Palaeoenvironmental interpretation of a sand-dominated coastal system of the Upper Miocene of eastern Guadalquivir Basin (south Spain): fossil assemblages, ichnology and taphonomy

Matias Reolid, Fernando Garcia-Garcia, Jesus Reolid, Arancha de Castro, Jose Bueno, Elvira Martín-Suárez


The palaeontological study of fossil assemblages from the Upper Miocene (Tortonian) marine deposits of the eastern sector of the Guadalquivir Basin allows interpreting palaeoenvironmental and depositional conditions when this basin acted as a connection between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Arroyo Escobar section represents a sand-dominated coastal system in transition to offshore deposits located on the northern margin of the basin. The materials are constituted by alternations of highly bioturbated fine sands (Skolithos ichnofacies) and bioclast-rich cemented coarse sands. In this context, several fossil remains of vertebrates have been recorded, corresponding to marine mammals, mainly cetaceans and pinniped. The remains are incomplete due to different factors, mainly the action of large scavengers. The palaeoenvironmental interpretation of these deposits has been based on the analysis of lithofacies, as well as the study of trace fossils and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages. Background dynamic was affected by the input of high energy deposits coming from shallower and more proximal environments which incorporates allochthonous faunas with different preservation. In addition, this work is the first study of fossil marine mammals in the eastern sector of the Guadalquivir Basin.


Bernasconi, M.P., Robba, E. (1993): Molluscan palaeoecology and sedimentological features: an integrated approach from the Miocene Meduna section, northern Italy. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 100, 267–290. doi: 10.1016/0031-0182(93)90058-Q

Berta, A., Sumich, J.L., Kovacs, K.M., Folkens, P.A., Adam, P.J. (2006a): Sirenians and other marine mammals: evolution and systematics. In: Marine Mammals: Evolutionary Biology, San Diego, Elsevier, pp. 89–110.

Berta, A., Sumich, J.L., Kovacs, K.M., Folkens, P.A., Adam, P.J. (2006b): Musculoskeletal system and locomotion. In: Marine Mammals: Evolutionary Biology, San Diego, Elsevier, pp. 165–212.

Beynon, P.B., Pemberton, S.G. (1992): Icnological signature of a brackish water deposit: an example from the Lower Cretaceous Grand Rapids Formation, Cold Lake Oil Sands area, Alberta. In: Pemberton, S.G. (ed.), Application of ichnology to petroleum exploration. Society of Sedimentary Geologists, p. 199–221. doi: 10.2110/cor.92.01.0199

Buatois, L., López-Angriman, A. (1992): The ichnology of a submarine braided channel complex : The Whisky Bay Formation, Cretaceous, James Ross Island, Antarctica. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 94, 119–140.

Buatois, L.A., Gingras, M.K., MacEachern, J., Mángano, M.G., Zonneveld, J.P., Pemberton, S.G., Netto, R.G., Martin, A.J. (2005): Colonization of brackish-water systems through time: evidence from the trace-fossil record. Palaios 20, 3321–347. doi: 10.1016/00310182(92)90116-M

Buatois, L., Mángano, M.G. (2011): Ichnology. Organism-substrate interactions in space and time. Cambridge University Press, 358 pp. Bustillo, M.A., López-García, M.J. (1997): Age, distribution and composition of Miocene diatom bearing sediments in the Guadalquivir Basin (Spain). Geobios 30, 335–350. (97)80193-3.

Cigala-Fulgosi, F. (1990): Predation (or possible scavenging) by a great white shark on an extinct species of bottlenosed dolphin in the Italian Pliocene. Tertiary Research 12, 17–36.

Cope, E.D. (1896): Sixth contribution to the knowledge of the marine Miocene fauna of North America. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 35,139–146.

Crimes, P.T. (1977): Trace fossils of a Eocene deep-sea sand fan. In: Crimes, P.T., Harper, J.C. (eds.), Trace Fossils 2, Geological Journal Special Issue 9, 71–90.

Crimes, P.T., Goldring, R., Homewood, P., Van Stuijvenberg, J., Winkler, W. (1981): Trace fossil assemblages of deep-sea fan deposits, Gurnigel and Schlieren flysch (Cretaceous-Eocene), Switzerland. Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae 74, 953–995.

Demèrè, T.A., Cerutti, R.A. (1982): A Pliocene shark attack on cetotheriid whale. Journal of Paleontology 56, 1480–1482.

Ehret, D.J., MacFadden, B.J., Salas-Gismondi, R. (2009): Caught in the act: trophic interactions between a 4-million-year-old white shark (Carcharodon) and mysticete whale from Peru. Palaios 24, 329–333.

Ekdale, A.A. (1992): Mudcraking y mudslinging: the joys of depositfeeding. In: Maples, C.G., West, R.W. (eds.), Trace Fossils, Short Courses in Paleontology 5: 145–171. Knoxville: Paleontological Society.

Encinas, A., Finger, K.L., Nielse, S.N., Lavenu, A., Buatois, L.A., Peterson, D.E., Le Roux, J.P. (2008): Rapid and major coastal subsidence during the late Miocene in south-central Chile. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 25, 157–175. doi: 10.1016/j.jsames.2007.07.001

Esperante, R., Muñiz Guinea, F., Nick, K.E., 2009. Mysticeti taphonomy of a whale in the Lower Pliocene Huelva Sands Formation (Southern Spain). Geologica Acta 7: 489-504.

García-García, F., Corbí, H., García-Ramos, D.A., Soria, J.M., Tent- Manclús, J.E., Viseras, C. (2014): El sector nororiental de la cuenca de antepaís del Guadalquivir (Cordillera Bética, Mioceno Superior): Estratigrafía, cronología y evolución sedimentaria. Revista de la Sociedad Geológica de España 27, 187–204.

Gibert, J.M., Martinell, J. (1999): Proximal-distal variations of trace fossil assemblages in a Pliocene ria, Baix Llobregat, Northeastern Spain. Revista Sociedad Geológica de España 12, 209–214.

González-Delgado, J.A., Civis, J., Dabrio, C.J., Goy, J.L., Ledesma, S., Sierro, F.J., Zazo, C. (2004): Cuenca del Guadalquivir. In: Vera, J.A. (ed.), Geología de España. SGE-IGME, Madrid, 543–550.

López-García, M.J., Bustillo, M.A. (1994): Los sedimentos con diatomeas del Mioceno en la cuenca del Guadalquivir: edad y composición litológica. Estudios Geológicos 50, 71–90. doi: 10.3989/egeol.94501-2309

Martín, J.M., Puga-Bernabéu, A., Aguirre, J., Braga, J.C. (2014): Miocene Atlantic-Mediterranean seaways in the Betic Cordillera (Southern Spain). Revista de la Sociedad Geológica de España 27: 175–186.

Mayoral, E., Pendón, J.G. (1986-1987): Ichnofacies y sedimentación en zona costera. Plioceno superior (?), litoral de Huelva. Acta Geológica Hispánica 21–22, 507–513.

Mayoral, E., Muñiz, F., Sendra, J. (2001b): Sondeo estratigráfico de urgencia en el Cabezo del Tío Parra, Lepe (Huelva). Anuario Arqueológico de Andalucía 97: 370–374.

Mayoral, E., Muñiz, F., Sendra, J., Bajo, I., Cárdenas, J. (2001a): Prospección paleontológica superficial en las márgenes del Río Guadaira, en el término municipal de Alcalá de Guadaira (Sevilla). Anuario Arqueológico de Andalucía 97 II: 1651–159.

Miller, W.III, Aalto, K.R. (2008): Rosselia ichnofabric in the Miocene Pullen Formation, Northwestern California: implications for the interpretation of regional tectonics. Palaios 23, 329–335. doi: 10.2110/palo.2007.p07-011r

Mocho, P., Póvoas, L. (2010): Contribuição para a revisão sistemática de un crãnio de Cephalotropis Cope, 1896 (Cetacea: Cetotheriidae) do Miocénico superior (Tortoniano inferior) da Adiça (Sesimbra, Portugal). Jornadas de la Sociedad Española de Paleontología, Lisboa, Portugal, 180–183.

Muñiz, F., Toscano, A., Bromley, R.G., Esperante, R. (2009): Excepcional caso de interacción trófica entre tiburones hexanchiformes y una ballena Balaenoptera en el Plioceno inferior de Huelva (SO de España). Libro de Actas XXV Jornadas de la Sociedad Española de Paleontología, Ronda, pp. 242–244.

Nagy, J., Rodríguez-Tovar, F.J., Reolid, M. (2016): Environmental significance of Ophiomorpha in a transgressive-regressive sequence of the Spitsbergen Paleocene. Polar Research 35, 24192. doi: 10.3402/polar.v35.24192

Netto, R.G., Buatois, L.A., Mángano, M.G., Balistieri, P. (2007): Gyrolithes as a multipurpose burrow: an ethologic approach. Revista Brasileira de Paleontologia 10, 157–168.

Pemberton, S.G., Spila, M., Pulham, A.J., Saunders, T., MacEachern, J.A., Robbins, D., Sinclair, I.K. (2001): Ichnology & sedimentology shallow to marginal marine systems: Ben Nevis and Avalon reservoirs, Jeanne d’Arc Basin. Geological Association of Canada, Short Course Notes 15, 1–343.

Pervesler, P., Uchman, A. (2004): Ichnofossils from the type area of the Grund Formation (Miocene, Lower Badenian) in northern lower Austria (Molasse Basin). Geologica Carpathica 55, 103–110.

Pierce, S.E., Clack, J.A., Hutchinson, J.R. (2011): Comparative axial morphology in pinnipeds and its correlation with aquatic locomotory behavior. Journal of Anatomy 219, 502–514.

Purdy, R.W. (1996): Paleoecology of fossil white sharks. In: Klimley, A.P., Ainley, D.G. (eds.), Great White Sharks: the biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic Press, San Diego, 67–78.

Reolid, M., Molina, J.M., (2015): Record of Carcharocles megalodon in the Eastern Guadalquivir Basin (Upper Miocene, South Spain). Estudios Geológicos 71 (2), 1-14. doi: 10.3989/egeol.41828.342

Reolid, M., García-García, F., Tomašových, A., Soria, J.E. (2012): Thick brachiopod Shell concentrations from prodelta and siliciclastic ramp in a Tortonian Atlantic-Mediterranean strait (Miocene, Guadix Basin, southern Spain). Facies 58: 549–571. doi: 10.1007/s10347-012-0296-2

Reolid, M., Reolid, J. (2015): Vertebrados fósiles de Jaén. Interpretación paleoecológica. Servicio Publicaciones Universidad Jaén, 149 pp.

Reolid, M., Rivas, P., Rodríguez-Tovar, F.J. (2015): Toarcian ammonitico rosso facies from the South Iberian Paleomargin (Betic Cordillera, southern Spain): paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Facies 61: 22. doi 10.1007/s10347-015-0447-3.

Santisteban-Navarro, J.I., Martín-Serrano, A. (1991): Neogene fan deltas in the northern Guadalquivir basin (Andújar, Jaén, Spain). Cuadernos de Geología Ibérica 15, 163–183.

Santos, A., Mayoral, E., Campina, A. (2015): Nueva cita de Piscichnus en el Mioceno superior de la cuenca del Guadalquivir. XXXI Jornadas de Paleontología, Baeza, pp. 282-284.

Sendra, J., Muñiz, F., Mayoral, E. (1999): Primeros datos sobre misticetos (Mammalia, Cetacea, Balaenopteridae) en el Plioceno Inferior de la Cuenca del Guadalquivir (Lepe, Huelva). Temas Geológico-Mineros ITGE 26: 356–361.

Tjalsma, R.C. (1971): Stratigraphy and foraminifera of the Neogene of the Eastern Guadalquivir Basin (Southern Spain). Utrecht Micropaleontological Bulletins 4, 1–161.

Toscano, A., Abad, M., Ruiz, F., Muñiz, F., Álvarez, G., García, E.X., Caro, J.A. (2013): Nuevos restos de Scaldicetus (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Physeteridae) del Mioceno superior, sector occidental de la Cuenca del Guadalquivir (sur de España). Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas 30: 436–445.

Uchman, A. (1995): Taxonomy and paleoecology of flysch trace fossils: The Marnosso-arenacea Formation and associated facies (Miocene, Northern Apennines, Italy). Beringeria 15, 1–115.

Uchman, A., Hanken, N.M. (2013): The new trace fossil Gyrolithes lorcaensis isp. n. from the Miocene of SE Spain and a critical review of the Gyrolithes ichnospecies. Stratigraphy and Geological Correlation 21, 312–322. doi: 10.1134/S0869593813030088

Uchman, A., Krenmayr, H.G. (1995): Trace fossils from Lower Miocene (Ottnangian) molasses deposits of Upper Austria. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 69, 503–524. doi: 10.1007/BF02987810

Uchman, A., Krenmayr, H.G. (2004): Trace fossils, ichnofabrics and sedimentary facies in the shallow marine lower Miocene molasses of Upper Austria. Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundensanstalt 144, 233–251.

Waite, R., Strasser, A. (2011): A comparison of recent and fossil large, high-spired gastropods and their environments: the Nopparat Thara tidal flat in Krabi, South Thailand, versus the Swiss Kimmeridgian carbonate platform. Facies 57, 223-248. Doi:10.1007/s10347-010-0236-y

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Iberian Geology
ISSN 1698-6180
ISSN-e 1886-7995

© . Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Biblioteca Complutense | Ediciones Complutense