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A new early Visean coral assemblage from Azrou-Khenifra Basin, central Morocco and palaeobiogeographic implications

  • Rodríguez, Sergio1, 2
  • Somerville, Ian D.3
  • Cózar, Pedro2
  • Sanz-López, Javier4
  • Coronado, Ismael5
  • González, Felipe6
  • Said, Ismail1
  • El Houicha, Mohamed7
  • 1 Universidad Complutense de Madrid, c/José Antonio Novais. 12, Madrid, 28040, Spain , Madrid (Spain)
  • 2 Instituto de Geociencias (CSIC, UCM), c/ José Antonio Novais 12, Madrid, 28040, Spain , Madrid (Spain)
  • 3 University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland , Dublin 4 (Ireland)
  • 4 Universidad de Oviedo, Arias de Velasco s/n, Oviedo, 33005, Spain , Oviedo (Spain)
  • 5 Institute of Paleobiology, Warsaw, Poland , Warsaw (Poland)
  • 6 Universidad de Huelva, Avda. Fuerzas Armadas s/n, Campus de El Carmen, Huelva, 21071, Spain , Huelva (Spain)
  • 7 Université Chouaïb Doukkali, El Jadida, 24000, Morocco , El Jadida (Morocco)
Published Article
Journal of Palaeogeography
Springer Singapore
Publication Date
Feb 11, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s42501-019-0051-5
Springer Nature


A new early Visean coral assemblage has been recorded from turbidite facies in the southern part of the Azrou-Khenifra Basin, northwest of Khenifra, central Morocco. The newly discovered Ba Moussa West (BMW) coral fauna includes Siphonophyllia khenifrense sp. nov., Sychnoelasma urbanowitschi, Cravenia lamellata, Cravenia tela, Cravenia rhytoides, Turnacipora megastoma and Pleurosiphonella crustosa. The early Visean age of the coral assemblage is supported by foraminiferal and conodont data, with the recognition of the basal Visean MFZ9 Zone. This confirms that the first transgression in the Azrou-Khenifra Basin was during the earliest Visean. The allochthonous coral assemblage was recovered from coarse-grained proximal limestone debris flow and turbidite beds within a fault-bounded unit, lying to the west of a thrust syncline containing upper Visean limestones. No evidence exists of the former early Visean shallow-water platform from which the corals were derived. All other in situ platform carbonate rocks around the southern margin of the Azrou-Khenifra Basin are probably of late Visean (Asbian–Brigantian) age. The early Visean Ba Moussa West coral fauna can be compared with that at Tafilalt in eastern Morocco, as well as in other Saharian basins of Algeria. Many of the genera and species in the Ba Moussa West assemblage are identical to those in NW Europe, with which it must have had marine connections. The new rugose species described, Siphonophyllia khenifrense, is probably endemic to North Africa. Its ecological niche in NW Europe was occupied by S. cylindrica or S. aff. garwoodi.

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