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  Geological Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 842 26 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

(Manuscript received October 14,1996; accepted in revised form March 18, 1997)


  The profile through the Turonian in the area of Hammam Mellègue together with perfectly exposed Coniacian

and Santonian formations is one of the best in Tunisia. It was proposed by the author as the stratotype profile for the
Tethyan realm (Salaj 1986). We stress that planktonic and benthonic foraminifers are perfectly preserved here. The Lower
Turonian is characterized by the upper part of the Whiteinella gigantea Zone (W. archaeocretacea Pessagno l967 which
is a synonym of Whiteinella inornata Bolli is not present in the uppermost Cenomanian to the Lower Turonian) with the
Dicarinella imbricata and Dicarinella hagni Zones with abundant species of the genus Whiteinella Pessagno 1967. The
Helvetoglobotruncana helvetica Zone of the Middle Turonian is characterized by the Dicarinella oraviensis trigona,
Dicarinella biconvexa and Sigalitruncana turona Subzones (Salaj l976; Salaj & Bellier 1978). The appearance and
explosive development of the species Whiteinella inornata (Bolli) and Whiteinella repanda (Bolli) in the uppermost part
of the Sigalitruncana turona Subzone together with various representatives of the genus “Gabonella” de Klasz, Marie
& Meijer 1960, which are also abundant in the Upper Turonian is interesting. The uppermost Turonian is characterized
by Dicarinella primitiva (Dalbiez) and Dicarinella paraconcavata (Hofker). The Lower Coniacian is defined by the
Dicarinella concavata–Helvetoglobotruncana cachensis Zone, whilst the Middle–Upper Coniacian is determined by the
Globotruncanella praehavanensis Zone. The uppermost Coniacian is determined by Sigalia deflaensis (Sigal) and the base
of the Santonian is determined by Sigalia carpathica Salaj & Samuel (Salaj & Maamouri l995).

Key words:

  Tunisia, Dj. Fguira Salah, El Kef, Turonian-Santonian, standard zonation, planktonic foraminifers.


The aim of this note is to point to the significance of the Tu-
ronian-Santonian hypostratotypes of Tunisia (loc.: Dj Fguira
Salah, El Fahs and Hammam Mellegue, El Kef; Fig. 1) in
function of stratotypes for the Tethyan realm.
The subdivision of these stages in Tunisia is based above all
on the macrofauna and foraminifers. The relationship with
the foraminiferal zones is shown on Fig. 3.


As standard profiles for the Turonian, three were chosen: a

profile in the area of El Fahs (Salaj 1986, p. 486) a further
profile in the area of Enfidaville (Dj. Abid - Dj. Bayada,
Salaj l973, 1980) and especially the profile in the area of El
Kef (Hammam Mellègue) (Salaj 1980, 1986, p. 490–491,
1987a, 1989).

The uppermost Cenomanian–Lower Turonian is character-

ized by the Bahloul Formation (l7 m thick). A new detailed
subdivision of this formation was carried out by Maamouri et
al. (1994). The base of the Lower Turonian is determined and
proved by appearance of Dicarinella imbricata (Mornod)
(Salaj & Maamouri 1995). The middle and upper part of the
Bahloul Formation (Lower Turonian) is defined by the mi-
crofauna of the Dicarinella hagni Zone. In some places
(Hammam Mellègue, Burollet  & Sainfeld l956) the Lower

Turonian is documented by the presence of the Inoceramus

 Schloth. The top of the Bahloul Formation and Bi-

reno Formation correspond to the Helvetoglobotruncana hel-
vetica Zone (thickness 57 m, Salaj 1986) with the Dicarinella
oraviensis trigona, Dicarinella biconvexa (definition of these

Fig. 1.

 Localization of the studied sections (see Salaj 1995).

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172                                                                                                 SALAJ

zones see Salaj & Samuel 1966) and Sigalitruncana (syn. Ca-
ronita — Salaj & Gašpariková 1983) turona Subzones.

The Upper Turonian corresponding to the Falsomargino-

truncana schneegansi Zone (see Salaj l987b) is characterized
by the Whiteinella inornata–Falsotruncana maslakovae, Di-
carinella renzi and Dicarinella primitiva Intervale Subzones
or Zones (Fig. 3).

The profile through the Turonian in the area of Hammam

Mellègue together with the perfectly exposed Coniacian and
Santonian formations is one of the best in Tunisia. It was
proposed by the author as the stratotype profile for the Tethy-
an realm (Salaj 1980, 1986). The knowledge of Turonian
stratigraphy from this and other profiles is summarized in
other works by the author (Salaj 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980,
1986, 1987a, b, c, 1989, 1995), to which we also refer. In this
place we stress that benthonic and planktonic foraminifers
are perfectly preserved here. The samples, either taken from
the profile of Hammam Mellègue or from the profile of Dj.
Fguira Salah, not only for the Turonian, but for all stages of
the Upper Cretaceous (Salaj l973, l984, 1986), have made
detailed studies of foraminifers, from the individual zones,
the study of their phylogeny (Salaj l987b), and of detailed
taxonomic problems possible.

Interesting explosive development of the species

Whiteinella inornata 

(Bolli), Whiteinella repanda (Bolli) and

representatives of the genus Falsotruncana Caron 1981 was
found (Pl. I: Fig. 6) in the uppermost part of the Helvetoglo-
botruncana helvetica Zone (Salaj 1996, p. 252–253), in the
upper part of the Sigalitruncana turona Subzone defined by
Salaj (1975). At the same time explosive development of
various representatives of the genus “Gabonella” de Klasz,
Marie & Meijer (1960) was also taking place (Fig. 2), proved
by the author (Salaj 1996) at the profile of Hammam
Mellègue. They are also abundant in the Whiteinella inornata-
Falsotruncana maslakovae Subzone defined by Salaj & Gaš-

pariková (1983, p. 598). The oldest occurrence of this genus
Gabonella laevis 

de Klasz, Marie & Rerat is mentioned by

de Klasz & Rerat (1963) from the Cenomanian of Gabon.

Turonian-Coniacian boundary (Fig. 3)

The uppermost Turonian with Dicarinella primitiva (Dal-

biez) (Salaj 1986, p. 495) and Dicarinella paraventricosa
(Hofker) is documented in the Dj. Fguira Salah area mainly
by the presence of Hemiaster verneuilli Desor and Hippu-
rites recquieni 

Matheron (Castany 1951; Jauzein 1967; Salaj

1976, 1996). The Coniacian base is documented by the pres-
ence of the species Dicarinella concavata (Brotzen), Hel-
vetoglobotruncana cachensis 

(Douglas) (Pl. I: Figs. 9–11),

Dicarinella asymetrica 

(Sigal) (Pl. I: Figs. 14–15) and Fal-

somarginotruncana angusticarinata 

(Gandolfi). At this lo-

cality the lowermost Coniacian from the faunistic point of
view is documented by the presence of abundant rudists and
Holaster desloiseauxi 


The same planktonic foraminifers at the base of the Conia-

cian are present in the Hammamm Mellègue area. Here the
author found some specimens of the Ammonites (?= Forres-

sp.). The author noted that the appearance of the Dica-

rinella concavata 

(Brotzen) in the Upper Turonian

(Robaszynski & Caron 1995, p. 686) is not confirmed.

The Coniacian Working Group led by Kauffman in Brus-

sels (Kauffman 1955, p. 154, Kauffman et al. 1996, p. 84–
94) proposed the definition of the Turonian-Coniacian strato-
type boundary on the bases of the first occurrence (FO) of
Forresteria (Harleites) petrocoriensis 

(Coquand) (=Barroi-

siceras habelfellneri

, see Kennedy 1984a,b, cf. Kauffman et

al. 1996) at the locality Wagon Mound (New Mexico, U.S.A.)
or the Salzgitter-Salder Quarry Section, Lower Saxony, Ger-
many (Kauffman et al. 1996,  p. 90). The Tunisian El Kef sec-

Fig. 2.

 a — Gabonella laevis de Klasz, Marie & Rerat, 


420. b — ”Gabonella” discorta irregularis de Klasz, Marie & Rerat, 


380. c —

Gabonella” parva de Klasz & Meijer, 


375. d — “Gabonella” spinosa de Klasz & Meijer, 


400. Sample 2–33. Loc.: Hammam

Mellègue (El Kef area). The Sigalitruncana turona Subzone of the Middle Turonian.

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Fig. 3.

 Biozonal division of the Turonian-Santonian in the Hammam Mellègue and Dj. Fguira Salah areas (El Kef, El Fahs), after Salaj

1995, modified.

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174                                                                                                 SALAJ

Plate I: Figs. l–3

 — Helvetoglobotruncana helvetica (Bolli);






200. Sample 2–33. Loc.: Hammam Mellègue. Upper

part of the Helvetoglobotruncana helvetica Zone (Sigalitruncana
turona Subzone). Figs. 4, 5 — Sigalitruncana turona (Olbertz);




175. Sample 2–33. Loc.: Hammam Mellègue (El Kef

area). Uppermost part of the Middle  Turonian. Fig. 6 — Fal-
sotruncana maslakovae 



275. Fig. 7 — Heterohelix ameri-




280. Sample 2–33. Figs. 9–11 — Helvetoglo-

botruncana cachensis 



130. Sample Z-38. Loc.: Dj.

Fguira Salah. Helvetoglobotruncana cachensis–Falsotruncana an-
gusticarinata Zone of the  Lower Coniacian. Figs. 12, 13 — He-
terohelix striata 





120. Figs. 14, 15 — Dica-

rinella asymetrica 



150. Sample Z-38.

tion was not recommendated by the Working Group at the
Brussels Meeting for consideration as a viable candidate for
the Stratotype Turonian-Coniacian boundary (see Birkelund et
al. 1984; Salaj l984). The main reason, as some collegue not
correctly mentioned at the session is that the political situation
in Tunisia is not stable. As a matter of fact, from the point of
view of macrofauna this boundary is not sufficiently dated, but
this macrofauna is found at this place.

We stress that the disadvantage of the Wagon Mound lo-

cality, as was shown in the lecture by  Kauffman, is that not
far below the Turonian-Coniacian boundary in the uppermost
Turonian there is a stratigraphic hiatus. The occurrence of
Durania texana 

2 m above the Coniacian base is also inter-

esting. There is obviously the same stratigraphic rudist hori-
zon as at the locality Dj. Fguira Salah Tunisia, however, this
is about 15 m above the Coniacian base (Salaj 1986, p. 495).
So the question arises, whether the Lower Coniacian at the
locality Wagon Mound is represented by condensed sedi-
ments or accompanied by hardground.

Another stratotype Turonian-Coniacian boundary, as pro-

posed by Cobban (in Kauffman 1995, p. 155) could be de-
fined at the locality Pueblo (Colorado) where at the base of
the Coniacian representatives of the genus Forresteria are
much more abundant than at the locality Wagen Mound and
so this locality becomes more important.


   The Lower Coniacian is defined by the Dicarinella con-

cavata–Helvetoglobotruncana cachensis Zone while the Mid-
dle–Upper Coniacian is determined by the Globotruncanella
praehavanensis Zone, which was defined by Salaj & Gaš-
pariková (1983).

The author verified its Middle Coniacian age at the locality

El Baiada (l km NNW of elev. p. 506, NW area on map sheet
El Kef 1:50,000, near the road leading to Souk-Ahras). There
is alternation of marly linestones and marls, from macrofau-
na representatives of the genera Inoceramus sp. and Pero-

are found here. Burrolet & Sainfeld (1956, p. 12)

mention from there Inoceramus cf. broghniarti Airachi and
Peroniceras subtricarinatum 

d’Orbigny, a typical represen-

tative of the Middle Coniacian zone (Kennedy 1984a, p. 153)
of the same name.

The Upper Coniacian age of this species at map sheet El

Kef is also unambigously documented by the localities with
macrofauna at the Coniacian-Santonian boundary. They are
the localities Kat es Sekouma (by the road) and Oued Chella.
The Upper Coniacian (lower part) is proved here by occur-
rences of specimens of the species Paratexanites ser-

(Redt.). The uppermost Coniacian is deter-

mined microfaunistically by the Sigalia deflaensis Zone, in
which at the locality Dj. Fguira Salah scarcely representa-
tives of the genus Protexanites are found (Salaj 1984,
p. 200). It is necessary to mention that mainly at the locali-
ties Dj. Fguira Salah besides echinoids, benthonic foramini-
fers, ostracods and, of course, also nannoplankton are un-
commounly abundant.

Coniacian-Santonian boundary (Fig. 3)

In Tunisia as well as in Algeria the base of the Santonian is

determined on the basis of appearance of the species Inocer-

(Platyceramus)  siccensis  Pervinquiere. It is found at

the profile Dj. Fguira Salah (Salaj l980, 1984) as well as in
the area of Hammam Mellègue and at many other localities
on  the map sheet El Kef (1:50,000). In addition at the former
locality (Dj. Fguira Salah) 5 m higher up from the Santonian
the species Texanites olivetti (Blanckenhorn) was found. In
fact it corresponds to the species Texanites collignoni (Lam-
olda 1995, p. 156). From the index species, which unambigu-
ously determines the Santonian base, is Sigalia carpathica
Salaj & Samuel (Pl. II: Figs. 4–7), as it was proved at many
localities in Tunisia (Maamouri & Maamouri l969; Salaj &
Maamouri 1971; Salaj l970, 1980; Sigal l977). It should also
be mentioned that in the upper part of the Sigalia carpathica
and Ventilabrella decoratissima (Middle Santonian) Zones at
the locality Dj. Fguira Salah rudists (Vaccinites div. sp.) are
abundant. The Ventilabrella decoratissima Zone in the Ham-
mam Mellègue area is documented by the Texanites olivetti
(Blackenhorn). The Upper Santonian with ammonites (Wied-
mann in Salaj 1980, p. 92) is defined by foraminifers of the
Contusotruncana manaurensis–Radotruncana elevata Zone.

Similar stratigraphical conditions to those of the locality

Dj. Fguira Salah are also at the locality 1 km NWW of Ham-
mam Mellègue and at the locality Chabet et Bagrat as well as
at the already above mentioned localities on map sheet El Kef:
Oued Chella, Koudiat es Sekouma and in the synclinal struc-
ture formed by Upper Coniacian to Lower Campanian sedi-
ments, at the localities Draa Sebatache, Kat Kassar (along the
road) and Oued Felja three up to 1 m thick layers of micrite
limestones are found within the range of about 15 m, separated
by layers of grey marls. The uppermost of them contain ex-
traordinarily abundant specimens of the species Inoceramus
(Platyceramussiccensis Pervinquière. In this layer, as de-
scribed by Burollet & Sainfeld (1956) at the localities Koudiat
Sekouma and Chabet et Bagrat (maps sheet El Kef 1:50,000,
Burollet & Sainfeld l956), well preserved specimens of the
Texanites texanum 

Roemer are found and, moreover, at the lo-

calities: Oued Chella, Oued Felja, Draa Sebatache, echinoids,
represented by the species Plesiaster peini Coquand, are ex-
traordinarily abundant in this uppermost layer.

As far as  the index fossil for establishing the Coniacian-

Santonian stratotype boundary is concerned the Santonian
Working Group led by Lamolda (1995, p. 156) in the first

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176                                                                                                 SALAJ

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place propose the appearance of representatives of the subge-
nus  Inoceramus  (Cladoceramus)  undulatoplicatus  and from
foraminifers the species Sigalia carpathica Salaj & Samuel.
The author notes the  appearance of the species Gavelinella

(Marie) (Pl. II: Figs. 8–9) from the base of the San-

tonian as well. As further representatives of other groups for
establishing the Coniacian-Santonian stratotype boundary,
mainly Inoceramus (Platyceramus) siccensis (Lamolda l995,
p. 157) should be mentioned. The definitive locality for the
Coniacian-Santonian stratotype boundary has not been
choosen so far. The Santonian Working Group suggests (San-
tonian Working Group — Circular 5, Brussels l995) three
condidates for the Coniacian-Santonian boundary stratotype:
Olazagulia Quarry (Navarra, Spain), Seaford Head (Sussex,
England) and Ten Mile Creek (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.).

We stress that another three localities for the Coniacian-

Santonian boundary stratotype are proposed and are being
taken  into consideration (see Lamolda & Hancock et al.
1996, pp. 99–100): a) The El Kef area, b) The West-central
Alberta, Canada (Cold Temperate Province), c) and The
Mangyshlak area (Kazakhstan).


The author would like to thank Prof. Dr.

Fr. Robaszynski and Dr. L. Hradecká for their valuable con-
structive remarks, which contributed to the form of the pre-
sented article being completed and adjusted in comparison
with the original text.


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Plate II: Figs. 1–3

 — Globotruncanella praehavanensis Salaj &



120. Sample Z-1861. Loc.: Dj. Fguira Salah. Glo-

botruncanella praehavanensis Zone of the  Middle Coniacian.
Figs. 4–7

 — Sigalia carpathica Salaj & Samuel; 








140. Sample Z-1193/30. Loc.: Dj. Fguira Salah. Zone of the Siga-

lia carpathica 

of the Lower Santonian. Figs. 8, 9 — Gavelinella




80. Sample Z-1193/30. Figs. 10–12 — Gave-

linella moniliformis 







350. Sample 2–33.

Loc.: Hammam Mellègue. Sigalitruncana turona Subzone.

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178                                                                                                 SALAJ

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