The Aptian—Albian Carbonate Episode of the Basque—Cantabrian Basin (Northern Spain): General Characteristics, Controls and Evolution

  1. Maurice E. Tucker2,
  2. James Lee Wilson3,
  3. Paul D. Crevello4,
  4. J. Rick Sarg5 and
  5. J. Fred Read6
  1. J. García-Mondéjar

Published Online: 15 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303834.ch10

Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution

Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution

How to Cite

García-Mondéjar, J. (1986) The Aptian—Albian Carbonate Episode of the Basque—Cantabrian Basin (Northern Spain): General Characteristics, Controls and Evolution, in Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution (eds M. E. Tucker, J. L. Wilson, P. D. Crevello, J. Rick Sarg and J. F. Read), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303834.ch10

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Durham, UK

  2. 3

    New Braunfels, Texas, USA

  3. 4

    Littleton, Colorado, USA

  4. 5

    Midland, Texas, USA

  5. 6

    Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Author Information

  1. Departamento de Estratigrafía, Geodinámica y Paleontología, Universidad del País Vasco, 48080 Bilbao, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 22 DEC 1986

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632027583

Online ISBN: 9781444303834



  • Aptian – Albian carbonate episode of Basque – Cantabrian Basin;
  • limestone deposition;
  • carbonate bioherms;
  • terrigenous sediments;
  • Ramales and Bilabo sectors


The Mesozoic and Caenozoic sedimentary and tectonic history of the Basque–Cantabrian region of northern Spain was linked to the appearance and evolution of the Bay of Biscay. During the Aptian and Albian the Urgonian Complex of > 4000 m of rudistid limestones accumulated in places and shows rapid lateral facies changes into siliciclastic sediments. The influence of a warm and wet climate is indicated by the occurrence of a reefal fauna and local lignite deposits. Sedimentary environments were of the following types: fluvial, coastal plain, deltaic and siliciclastic shelf, carbonate platform, platform margin, carbonate talus and basin, and terrigenous talus. The Aptian section is characterized by only small bathymetric differences across the basin areas. The succeeding Albian carbonates are composed of thick platform and isolated bank limestones containing large reef mounds. Along some straight bank margins megabreccias were deposited as the result of tectonism and probable eustatic changes of sea-level. Carbonate deposition was interrupted by two periods of terrigenous deposition, which were widespread over the basin and occurred in the middle and the late Albian.

Four depositional sequences related to tectonic pulses and relative sea-level changes are identified. They are bounded by lowstands in the earliest Aptian, middle Aptian, early Albian, middle Albian and late Albian. Some of the lowstands coincide with terrigenous influx and the deposition of megabreccias and can be considered influenced by eustasy.

Tectonism was the most important factor controlling carbonate facies distribution. Halokinesis exerted a local control and block faulting caused differential subsidence. Limestone deposition was dominant over the highs and siliciclastic deposition occurred in the troughs. The NW–SE and SW–NE orientation of troughs and highs is interpreted to be the result of extensive movements related to the opening of the Bay of Biscay, with the major bounding faults probably coincident with basement faults.