Some parasequences in the interior of the Early Cretaceous isolated carbonate platform, Croatia, which formed under a greenhouse climate, lack the typical regressive tidal flat laminites. Instead, these bioturbated emergent parasequences have burrowed and rooted upper parts, capped with thin greenish paleosols, and are reminiscent of Triassic “Lofer cycles.” We propose that the bioturbated cycle tops reflect coastal salinities that are normal marine, brackish, or metahaline, whereas the transgressive (rare) and abundant regressive tidal flat laminites formed under hypersaline coastal waters. Thus, these features may be used to track gross salinity changes of coastal waters on the platform through time. In addition, we suggest ways to evaluate whether the salinity changes relate to hypersaline embayments on the platform or changes in the climate at the parasequence scale.
We propose that the bioturbated emergent parasequences could have formed under semiarid conditions, seaward of subtle, shallow embayments on the platform. Contemporaneously, in the bayheads, microbial laminites developed—these would require time-equivalent updip and downdip laminate-capped and bioturbated emergence–capped parasequences. However, the parasequences could also have been controlled by climate changes. The laminite-capped parasequences could have resulted from salinity increase with shallowing of the platform interior under semiarid conditions (stable climate). In contrast, the bioturbated emergence–capped parasequences could have formed during times of more humid climate punctuating the overall semiarid climate. The humid phase would have favored brackish to normal marine salinities in the coastal zone, along with macrophytes, and intense animal and plant bioturbation, which would suppress development of laminite caps. Thus, these parasequences provide a means of tracking gross salinity of coastal waters, and if climate induced, then they have implications for fluctuating climates in greenhouse worlds.