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ABSTRACT: An Overview of Miocene Reefs

C. F. Jordan, Jr., M. W. Colgan, S. H. Frost, E. C. Glenn, D. Bosence, M. Esteban

Miocene reefs (over 250 mapped occurrences) lived approximately within the latitudes of 27°S to 48°N compared with 25°S and 32°N for Holocene reefs. This expansion of reef-growing environments was the result of warm Miocene climates, aided by a eustatic sea level rise and tectonic styles that provided numerous foundations for reef development. The majority of Miocene reefs are found in three main areas: (1) Southeast Asia and the western Pacific, (2) the Mediterranean-Middle East, and (3) Middle America and the Caribbean. These regions, with their distinctive suites of coral and foramineral species, formed three biological provinces; respectively, they are the Indo-Pacific, Tethyan, and Western Atlantic provinces.

Tectonic styles are different in each of these provinces. Miocene reefs in Southeast Asia occur in several foreland basins as patch reef complexes on paleohighs and as barrier reefs in back-arc basins. Those reefs in the Mediterranean occur as fringing reefs, middle-shelf patch reefs, or as barrier reefs on the edges of tectonic blocks associated with Alpine thrust belts. Most reefs in the Caribbean grew on isolated open-ocean highs of volcanic origin. Miocene reefs display a diversity of framework types: (1) coral-encrusting, red algal boundstones with diverse coral faunas, (2)

branching coral-encrusting, red algal boundstones with a limited Poritid fauna, (3) encrusting red algal boundstones. Barrier reef systems are especially rich in encrusting red algae and robust corals; grainstones are common as interbedded sediment. Patch reef complexes, however, display muddy carbonate textures, may have less diverse coral faunas, and commonly have larger foraminifera.

An understanding of the global distribution of Miocene reefs is important from both a scientific and economic standpoint because (1) it provides insight into a paleoclimatic view of the earth during a major greenhouse stage and (2) Miocene buildups, such as the Arun (EUR of 14 tcf) and Bima fields (EUR of about 100 MMBO), are exploration targets.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990