Paleogene Larger Benthic Foraminiferal Stratigraphy and Facies distribution: implications for tectonostratigraphic evolution of the Kohat Basin, Potwar Basin and the Trans Indus Ranges (TIR) northwest Pakistan
Thick Paleogene sequences occur in the southern deformed fold and thrust belt of the Himalayas. In this thesis I describe detailed litho- and biostratigraphy from ten key stratigraphic sections in the Kohat Basin, the Potwar Basin and the Trans Indus Ranges (TIR). These stratigraphies combined with microfacies analysis resulted in a new interpretation of the tectono-stratigraphic history of the area, which is dominated by India-Asia collision but where eustatatic effects can also be identified. Of particular interest is documenting the timing of the final closure of the northern rim of the Tethys caused by this collision. The Kohat and Potwar Basins represent foreland basins within the collision zone. Their stratigraphies document effects of local tectonics and eustatic sea level. The biostratigraphy is based on occurrences of larger benthic foraminifera. Taxonomy of the species is included in the thesis. The Paleogene rocks of the study area are divided into local larger benthic forminiferal biozones: BFZK 1- BFZK 6 in the Kohat Basin and BFZP 1-BFZP 3 in the Potwar Basin and the TIR. These local biozones are correlated to the global standard biozonation schemes of Höttinger (1960), Schaub (1981), and Serra Kiel et al. (1998). The ages of the sequences are Late Paleocene (Thanitian) to Middle Eocene (Upper Lutetian) in the Kohat Basin, and Late Paleocene (Thanitian) to Early Eocene (Middle Cuisian) in the Potwar Basin and the TIR. The sediments were deposited along a carbonate ramp platform in both areas (sensu Read, 1982, 1985). The sequence stratigraphic histories of the two basins are described as follows. In the Kohat Basin, Thanitian to Middle Cuisian strata record the first Transgressive-Regressive cycle (TRK 1). The first sequence boundary (SBK 1) is followed by Middle Cuisian-Upper Cuisian lowstand progradational deposition that marks the end of TRK 1 cycle. Middle Lutetian 1-Upper Lutetian strata represent the second Transgressive-Regressive cycle (TRK 2). The second sequence boundary (SBK 2) ends TRK 2 deposition, after which no more deposition took place. In the Potwar Basin and the TIR, Thanitian strata comprise the first Transgressive- Regressive cycle (TRP 1), whilst Lower Lllerdian-Middle Lllerdian 1 strata constitute the second Transgressive-Regressive cycle (TRP 2). Middle Lllerdian 2 to Middle Cuisian strata mark the third Transgressive-Regressive cycle (TRP 3). Three sequence boundaries (the SBP 1, the SBP 2 and the SBP 3), marked by exposure surfaces, separate the three depositional cycles. The SBP 1 and SBP 2 sequence boundaries are controlled by local tectonics. In contrast the SBP 3 and SBK 1 sequence boundaries are synchronous at 49.5 Ma, and represent a phase of significant relative sea level fall, possibly driven by the combined effect of uplift (collision tectonics) and eustatic sea level fall (e.g. Haq et al., 1987). This implies that proto-closure of the northern rim of the Tethys occurred around 49.5 Ma. Reestablishment of marine conditions in the Kohat Basin occurred in the Middle Lutetian 1 around 45.8 Ma, possibly caused by a combination of flexural loading of the Indian plate (Pivinik & Wells, 1996) and eustatic sea-level rise (e.g. Haq et al., 1987). The final closure of the Tethys, marked by the end of marine sedimentation in the Kohat Basin, occurred in the Upper Lutetian (41.2 Ma). Finally, Himalayan foreland molasses sedimentation occurred during Miocene to Pliocene.