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Lithofacies, depositional environments, and regional stratigraphy of the lower Eocene Ghazij Formation, Balochistan, Pakistan

August 1, 1999

The coal-bearing, lower Eocene Ghazij Formation is exposed intermittently over a distance of 750 kilometers along the western margin of the Axial Belt in north-central Pakistan. Underlying the formation are Jurassic to Paleocene carbonates that were deposited on a marine shelf along the pre- and post-rift northern margin of the Indian subcontinent. Overlying the formation are middle Eocene to Miocene marine and nonmarine deposits capped by Pliocene to Pleistocene collision molasse.

The lower part of the Ghazij comprises mostly dark gray calcareous mudrock containing foraminifers and rare tabular to lenticular bodies of very fine grained to finegrained calcareous sandstone. We interpret the lower portion of this part of the Ghazij as outer-shelf deposits, and the upper portion as prodelta deposits. The middle part of the formation conformably overlies the lower part. It comprises medium-gray calcareous mudrock containing nonmarine bivalves, fine- to medium-grained calcareous sandstone, and rare intervals of carbonaceous shale and coal. Sandstone bodies in the middle part, in ascending stratigraphic order, are classified as Type I (coarsening-upward grain size, contain the trace fossil Ophiomorpha, and are commonly overlain by carbonaceous shale or coal), Type II (mixed grain size, display wedge-planar cross stratification, and contain fossil oyster shells and Ophiomorpha), and Type III (finingupward grain size, lenticular shape, erosional bases, and display trough cross stratification). These three types of bodies represent shoreface deposits, tidal channels, and fluvial channels, respectively. Mudrock intervals in the lower portion of this part of the formation contain fossil plant debris and represent estuarine deposits, and mudrock intervals in the upper portion contain fossil root traces and represent overbank deposits. We interpret the middle part of the Ghazij as a lower delta plain sequence. Overlying the middle part of the Ghazij, possibly unconformably, is the upper part of the formation, which comprises calcareous, nonfossiliferous, light-gray, brown, and red-banded mudrock, and rare Type III sandstone bodies. Much of the mudrock in this part of the formation represents multiple paleosol horizons. Locally, a limestone-pebble conglomerate is present in the upper part of the formation, either at the base or occupying most of the sequence. We interpret all but the uppermost portion of the upper part of the Ghazij as an upper delta plain deposit.

Thin sections of Ghazij sandstones show mostly fragments of limestone, and heavy-liquid separations reveal the presence of chromite. Paleocurrent data and other evidence indicate a northwestern source area.

During earliest Eocene time, the outer edge of the marine shelf off the Indian subcontinent collided with a terrestrial fragment positioned adjacent to, but detached from, the Asian mainland. This collision caused distal carbonateplatform deposits to be uplifted, and an intervening intracratonic sea, the Indus Foreland Basin, was created. Thus for the first time, the depositional slope switched from northwest facing to southeast facing, and a northwestern source for detritus was provided. We conclude that the Ghazij was deposited as a prograding clastic wedge along the northwestern shore of this sea, and that the formation contains sedimentologic evidence of a collisional event that predates the main impact between India and Asia.

Publication Year 1999
Title Lithofacies, depositional environments, and regional stratigraphy of the lower Eocene Ghazij Formation, Balochistan, Pakistan
DOI 10.3133/pp1599
Authors Edward A. Johnson, Peter D. Warwick, Stephen B. Roberts, Intizar H. Khan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1599
Index ID pp1599
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse