A sedimentological and ichnological data set that covers the Lower-Upper Miocene sedimentary series of western Amazonian foreland basin indicates that widespread, restricted marine ingressions shaped western Amazonia throughout the Miocene. The late Lower–early Upper Miocene sedimentary series (Pebas Formation) consists of stacked, 3- to 10-m-thick, tidally influenced, brackish to freshwater, bay-margin sequences. The overlying Upper Miocene (“post-Pebas”) strata bear tidally influenced, low-salinity, channel deposits that are interbedded with continental deposits. The data suggest that several tens of high-frequency ingressions reached the basin during the Miocene. The ingressions were shallow and restricted, and were interspersed with rapid progradation. Along with the prograding shorelines, the continental environments—swamps, lagoons, floodplains and forests—constrained the extent of the marginal marine embayment. Consequently, the Miocene marginal marine and continental strata are closely interbedded throughout the basin. These results refine the recent depositional models for Miocene Amazonia, and challenge the theory that marine ingressions shaped the area only during one brief time interval (late Middle-early Late Miocene) during the epoch.
Much of recent literature has documented fossils of mangrove pollen, brackish-euryhaline fish and brackish-water ostracods, brackish-water trace fossil assemblages, and tidal deposits from various Miocene stratigraphic levels. Commonly, these data sets are collected from the same outcrops as those for which data sets imply freshwater conditions. We propose that these seemingly contrasting data sets can be unified, if the repetitive nature of the ingressions is considered, and all the paleoenvironmental data are presented in a detailed lithological and stratigraphical context.