A bio- and litho- stratigraphic study of the Ecca-Beaufort contact in the southeastern Karoo basin (Albany District, Eastern Cape Province)
The rocks of the Carboniferous to Jurassic aged main Karoo Supergroup of South Africa preserve an internationally significant and stratigraphically continuous retro-arc foreland depositional sequence. This succession documents environmental change from glacial-marine, through fluvio-deltaic to continental fluvial and aeolian, culminating in rift associated continental flood basalt extrusions. The fluvio-deltaic transition from marine to continental deposition has been the subject of much recent research and corresponds with the position of the Ecca-Beaufort contact. Over the entire basin this transition comprises three separate lithofacies associations deposited in the prodelta, deltafront and delta plain environments. Anomolously the southeastern contact is currently mapped as reflecting fluvial deposits of the Koonap Formation lying unconformably on prodelta deposits of the Fort Brown Formation. Detailed study across the Ecca-Beaufort contact in this part of the basin now reveals the same lithological transition as is present in the rest of the basin. Contrary to previuos work, this has shown that the Waterford Formation is indeed present in this part of the basin. This in effect means that the Grahamstown map sheet (1:250 000, Map 3326) requires modification to include this Formation and the new contact placement of the Ecca-Beaufort contact occurs some 70 to 120m above the presently mapped contact. Fossils collected during this and previous studies show that biostratigraphically Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone fauna occurs in the rocks of the Koonap Formation in this part of the basin, indicating that the Ecca-Beaufort contact in the southern part of the basin youngs towards the east. This supports the prograding shoreline deposition model that has been previously proposed for the Ecca-Beaufort contact.
Ecca, Beaufort, biostratigraphy, lithostratigraphy, Karoo