Microfossil assemblages (Diatoms, calcareous nannofossils, and silicoflagellates), paleoenvironment, and hydrocarbon source rock potential of the oligocene ruslar formation at karadere, Bulgaria

Emilia Tulan, Reinhard F. Sachsenhofer, Jakub Witkowski, Gabor Tari, Stjepan Ćorić, Achim Bechtel

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The Oligocene Ruslar Formation, an equivalent of the Maykop Suite, is a potential hydrocarbon source rock in the western
Black Sea Basin. In contrast to the offshore areas, the depositional environment and hydrocarbon source rock potential of onshore
Bulgaria sediments are largely unknown. Hence, a 14-m-thick section of the Ruslar Formation, exposed near Karadere (Black Cape)
along the Black Sea coast, provides an excellent opportunity to study the upper part of the Ruslar Formation. Here, laminated diatomrich
mudstones with frequent thin sandstone beds and a prominent concretion horizon are exposed. Furthermore, the fossil diatom
assemblages provide a key component to understand the paleoenvironment. Overall, Paleogene diatoms are understudied in the Black
Sea Basin and therefore only a genus-level study is undertaken here. The studied Ruslar Formation contain remarkably diverse and wellpreserved
diatom assemblage with 23 different genera. The most frequent genera are Paralia, Distephanosira, and Stephanopyxis. Common
genera include Coscinodiscus, Hemiaulus, Pseudopodosira, Rouxia, and Xanthiopyxis. Rare taxa include Actinoptychus, Asterolampra,
Azpeitia, Delphineis, Distephanosira, Diploneis, Eunotogramma, Eurossia, Lyrella, Liradiscus, Plagiogramma, Radialiplicata, Rutilaria,
Saeptifera, and Triceratium. The diatom assemblages together with calcareous nannoplankton, silicoflagellates, and the presence of rare
foraminifera indicate a fully marine neritic environment without major salinity variations. The calcareous nannoplankton investigated
can be assigned to biozone NP23 (Early Oligocene). The exposed fragment of the Ruslar Formation was deposited after the low salinity
“Solenovian event”, which represents the maximum isolation of the Paratethys present in the lower part of the NP23. Bulk geochemical
parameters from 35 samples (avg. TOC: 1.80% wt.; avg. HI: 226 mg HC/g TOC) show that the exposed part of the Ruslar Formation
contains type II-III kerogen and a fair to good hydrocarbon potential. The Ruslar Formation is immature (avg. Tmax: 424 °C), but may
generate about 0.5 tons of hydrocarbons per square meter if mature. Biomarker proxies support the low maturity and are characterized
by diatom-related biomarkers (24-norcholestane; C25HBI alkanes and thiophenes). Land-plant-derived biomarkers suggest a significant
input of angiosperms. Based on biomarker ratios, the depositional environment was oxygen-depleted but probably not strictly anoxic.
Reworking of biomass by chemoautotrophic bacteria is suggested by the presence of 28,30-bisnorhopane.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-169+Anhang
Number of pages21
JournalTurkish Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • Black Sea
  • Calcareous nannofossils
  • Diatom assemblages
  • Hydrocarbon source rock
  • Oligocene
  • Ruslar Formation

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