Abstract

Palynological investigations of the mid-Cretaceous, delta-influenced Malha Formation and superjacent transgressive Galala Formation exposed at Gebel El Minshera, north Sinai, Egypt, have yielded a sparse but biostratigraphically useful record of spores, pollen, and rare dinoflagellate cysts. A representative of the pollen genus Tricolporites, recovered 18 m above the base of the Malha Formation, is post-Aptian in age. An interval comprising the upper Malha Formation and lower Galala Formation is dated as middle Albian/middle Cenomanian based on the occurrence of Elaterosporites klaszii at the base and Afropollis jardinus at the top. A palynoflora from the upper Malha Formation, which includes ephedroids as well as Elaterosporites, has affinities with the Albian–Cenomanian Elaterates Province. The presence of palynomorphs associated with active fluvio-deltaic settings supports a proximal deltaic environment for the deposition of the Malha Formation, with the superjacent Galala Formation representing a subsequent marine flooding of the delta. A distinctive monospecific assemblage of the dinoflagellate cyst Subtilisphaera senegalensis in the upper part (Cenomanian) of the Galala Formation reflects an ecologically stressed, marginal-marine environment. This assemblage constitutes the first record of the mid-Cretaceous Subtilisphaera ecozone in Egypt and indeed east of Morocco, and in deposits as young as Cenomanian. The Malha and lowermost Galala Formations are characterized by type III–VI kerogen, which is gas prone but having little potential to produce hydrocarbons. Spore-pollen color indicates thermal maturity at the transitional to over-mature level, which is anomalously high when compared with equivalent deposits in the region.

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