The Carboniferous of the Western Karakoram (Pakistan)

M. Gaetani*, A. Zanchi, L. Angiolini, G. Olivini, D. Sciunnach, H. Brunton, A. Nicora, R. Mawson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The results of the study of the Carboniferous successions in the western part of the Northern Karakoram during three geological expeditions are summarized here. Rocks of that period are not uniformly preserved in the several thrust sheets forming the Northern Karakoram. In most of them only the basal part of the Carboniferous, up to the Visean, is preserved, whilst in the Karambar thrust sheet a more complete section-previously almost unknown-is preserved. Four new lithostratigraphic units, time-constrained by brachiopod and conodont biostratigraphy, are described, from bottom to top: (1) the Margach Formation: prevailing dark shales with subordinate fine subarkoses and quartzarenites, up to 300 m thick (mid-Famennian to middle Tournaisian); (2) the Ribat Formation: grey crinoidal limestones passing upwards to dark marly limestones and marls, at least 300 m thick (middle Tournaisian to Serpukhovian); (3) the Lupsuk Formation: subarkoses to feldspathic quartzarenites in thick beds, alternating with dark shales and siltstones, up to 400 m thick (Serpukhovian to uppermost Carboniferous); (4) within the Lupsuk Formation a local member, the Twin Valleys Member, up to 100 m thick, a bioclastic limestone intercalation of post-Moscovian age, is distinguished. The Carboniferous successions are invariably sealed by the arkoses to quartzarenites of the Gircha Formation, 133 m above the base of which, in the Karambar area, an Asselian brachiopod fauna was recovered. The Carboniferous succession is interpreted as recording the evolution of the passive margin of the Northern Karakoram Terrane, from early rifting stage in the Late Devonian to syn-rift events during the Late Carboniferous. The basal part of the Gircha Formation, of latest Carboniferous-earliest Permian age, is considered to have been deposited above a break-up unconformity, linked to the early drifting in the seaway bordering the Karakoram.In the palaeontological appendix the most significant brachiopod taxa (19 species, one new) are described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-305
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


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