10. Palaeoenvironmental Significance of Oligocene–Miocene Coralline Red Algae – a Review

  1. Maria Mutti4,
  2. Werner Piller5 and
  3. Christian Betzler6
  1. Juan C. Braga1,
  2. Davide Bassi2 and
  3. Werner E. Piller3

Published Online: 3 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118398364.ch10

Carbonate Systems during the Oligocene-Miocene Climatic Transition

Carbonate Systems during the Oligocene-Miocene Climatic Transition

How to Cite

Braga, J. C., Bassi, D. and Piller, W. E. (2012) Palaeoenvironmental Significance of Oligocene–Miocene Coralline Red Algae – a Review, in Carbonate Systems during the Oligocene-Miocene Climatic Transition (eds M. Mutti, W. Piller and C. Betzler), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118398364.ch10

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften Universität Potsdam, Postfach 60 15 53 D-14415 Potsdam, Germany

  2. 5

    Institute for Earth Sciences (Geology & Paleontology) University of Graz, Heinrichstrasse 26, A-8010 Graz, Austria

  3. 6

    Geologisch-Palaeontologisches Institut, Bundesstr. 55, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany

Author Information

  1. 1

    Departamento de Estratigrafía y Paleontología, Universidad de Granada, Campus de Fuentenueva, E-18002 Granada, Spain

  2. 2

    Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Via Saragat 1, I-44122 Ferrara, Italy

  3. 3

    Institut für Erdwissenschaften - Geologie und Paläontologie, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Heinrichstrasse 26, A-8010 Graz, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 APR 2012
  2. Published Print: 5 APR 2012

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 42 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis7,8

Series Editor Information

  1. 7

    School of Geography, Geology and the Environment Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research, Kingston University London, UK

  2. 8

    Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444337914

Online ISBN: 9781118398364



  • Coralline red algae;
  • Oligocene;
  • Miocene;
  • palaeobiogeography;
  • palaeoenvironment


Coralline red algae are common in Oligocene and Miocene marine shallow-water carbonate and siliciclastic rocks, as well as deep-water re-deposited sediments containing particles removed from platforms. Corallines are mostly reported in reef-related carbonates but are also the main components in shallow-water heterozoan carbonates from temperate regions. The known distribution of Oligocene coralline assemblages does not suggest any palaeobiogeographical differentiation. In contrast, for the Miocene, the occurrence of taxa still living today with restricted geographic distribution supports an actualistic approach and the rough differentiation of palaeobiogeographic regions as follows: (a) a tropical region (characterised by thick Hydrolithon plants and Aethesolithon); (b) a subtropical Mediterranean (with common Spongites and Neogoniolithon species); and (c) a temperate region with shallow-water assemblages dominated by Lithophyllum.

In a few examples from the northern margin of the western Tethys, the correlation of Oligocene carbonate-facies and algal assemblages indicates a dominance of Lithothamnion species in the shallower environments, while Mesophyllum is most abundant in deeper platform settings. The taxonomic composition of Miocene coralline assemblages and growth forms changes with depth, having patterns similar to those in the algal associations in present-day marine platforms. Mastophoroids and lithophylloids (Aethesolithon, Hydrolithon, Neogoniolithon, Spongites, and Lithophyllum species) characterize the shallower assemblages, whereas the melobesioids Lithothamnion and Mesophyllum and the sporolithacean Sporolithon are dominant in deeper-water settings. The common algal nodules (rhodoliths) comprise thick plants of few species in the shallowest palaeoenvironments, while in deeper platform areas they are composed of more diverse algal assemblages, with thin encrusting and protuberant-branching growth forms.