The Middle Jurassic basinal deposits of the Surmeh Formation in the Central Zagros Mountains, southwest Iran: Facies, sequence stratigraphy, and controls

Y. Lasemi, A. H. Jalilian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lower part of the Lower to Upper Jurassic Surmeh Formation consists of a succession of shallow marine carbonates (Toarcian-Aalenian) overlain by a deep marine basinal succession (Aalenian-Bajocian) that grades upward to Middle to Upper Jurassic platform carbonates. The termination of shallow marine carbonate deposition of the lower part of the Surmeh Formation and the establishment of deep marine sedimentation indicate a change in the style of sedimentation in the Neotethys passive margin of southwest Iran during the Middle Jurassic. To evaluate the reasons for this change and to assess the basin configuration during the Middle Jurassic, this study focuses on facies analysis and sequence stratigraphy of the basinal deposits (pelagic and calciturbidite facies) of the Surmeh Formation, referred here as 'lower shaley unit' in the Central Zagros region. The upper Aalenian-Bajocian 'lower shaley unit' overlies, with an abrupt contact, the Toarcian-lower Aalenian platform carbonates. It consists of pelagic (calcareous shale and limestone) and calciturbidite facies grading to upper Bajocian-Bathonian platform carbonates. Calciturbidite deposits in the 'lower shaley unit' consist of various graded grainstone to lime mudstone facies containing mixed deep marine fauna and platform-derived material. These facies include quartz-bearing lithoclast/intraclast grainstone to lime mudstone, bioclast/ooid/peloid intraclast grainstone, ooid grainstone to packstone, and lime wackestone to mudstone. The calciturbidite layers are erosive-based and commonly exhibit graded bedding, incomplete Bouma turbidite sequence, flute casts, and load casts. They consist chiefly of platform-derived materials including ooids, intraclasts/lithoclasts, peloids, echinoderms, brachiopods, bivalves, and open-ocean biota, such as planktonic bivalves, crinoids, coccoliths, foraminifers, and sponge spicules. The 'lower shaley unit' constitutes the late transgressive and the main part of the highstand systems tract of a depositional sequence and grades upward to platform margin and platform interior facies as a result of late highstand basinward progradation. The sedimentary record of the 'lower shaley unit' in the Central Zagros region reveals the existence of a northwest-southeast trending platform margin during the Middle Jurassic that faced a deep basin, the 'Pars intrashelf basin' in the northeast. The thinning of calciturbidite layers towards the northeast and the widespread Middle Jurassic platform carbonates in the southern Persian Gulf states and in the Persian Gulf area support the existence of a southwest platform margin and platform interior source area. The platform margin was formed as a result of tectonic activity along the preexisting Mountain Front fault associated with Cimmerian continental rifting in northeast Gondwana. Flooding of the southwest platform margin during early to middle Bajocian resulted in the reestablishment of the carbonate sediment factory and overproduction of shallow marine carbonates associated with sea-level highstand, which led to vertical and lateral expansion of the platform and gradual infilling of the Pars intrashelf basin by late Bajocian time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-295
Number of pages13
JournalCarbonates and Evaporites
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Basinal facies
  • Calciturbidite
  • Middle Jurassic
  • Pars intrashelf basin
  • Sequence stratigraphy
  • Zagros Mountains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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