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Biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental interpretation of

Middle Eocene sequences from Darende-Balaban Basin

(Eastern Anatolia, Turkey)


Çukurova University, Engineering and Architecture Faculty, Department of Geological Engineering, 01330 Adana, Turkey;

(Manuscript received November 19, 2004; accepted in revised form October 6, 2005)

Abstract: The Middle Eocene sequence in the Darende-Balaban Basin (Eastern Turkey) characterized by shallow and deep
marine benthic and planktonic foraminiferal assemblages. Nummulites and other benthic foraminifers are common in its
lower part (mainly in the conglomerates and sandstones) while the planktonic foraminiferal assemblages are abundant in
middle and upper parts (generally fine-grained sediments). Acarinina bulbrooki Zone is identified within Middle Eocene
strata in the study area. This biozone correlated with other Mediterranean, southern mid- to high-latitude successions where
some similar species are recorded. Paleontological and sedimentological data presented in this study suggest that the Middle
Eocene sequences are dominated by siliciclastic and carbonate sediments that were deposited in various environments
ranging from very shallow (Korgantepe, Asartepe and Darende Formations) to deep marine (Yenice Formation) ones.

Key words: Middle Eocene, Turkey, paleoenvironment, biostratigraphy, Ostracoda, Foraminifera.


Closure of the neo-Tethys as a result of collision of the Ana-
tolian and Arabian plates during the Middle Eocene is rep-
resented by narrow and elongated sedimentary basins
located on the marginal parts of these plates, mostly on the
foreland and the southern flanks of the Anatolian plate. The
Darende-Balaban Basin is one of those basins, located geo-
logically in the Eastern Taurus Mountain segment and geo-
graphically 50 km north-northwest of Malatya, around and
south of Darende town, Eastern Turkey (Fig. 1).

General geological and petroleum exploration related

studies about the Darende-Balaban Basin have been done
since 1938 (Blumenthal 1938; Baykal 1944; Demirta lô  &
Ayan 1963; Ürgün 1963; Ayan & Bulut 1964; Wirtz
1965; Akku  1970, 1971; Kurtman & Akku  1974; Sirel
1976; Kurtman 1978). Those followed by some sedimen-
tological and paleontological studies authored by Nazik
(1993), Gürbüz & Taptôk (2001), Erdoûan & Nazik (2003).

The study of this well exposed Middle Eocene se-

quence represented in the Darende-Balaban Basin was an
important key to understand the paleoenvironmental his-
tory of this basin. Thus, this research has been done: a) to
define planktonic foraminiferal zones in the Middle
Eocene sequence of the Darende-Balaban Basin and b) to
interpret its paleoenvironmental conditions based on the
lithological features and planktonic/benthic foraminifer-
al features and ratios.

Geological setting

Paleogene deposits are widespread in the Sivas-Zara-

Hafik, Darende-Balaban and Mu -Hônôs-Malazgirt Basins,

Fig. 1. Location map of the study area with simplified geological
map (after Kurtman & Akku  1974).

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in Eastern Turkey. The Darende-Balaban Basin is sur-
ounded by pre-Cretaceous and Cretaceous basement
highs from the north and south (Fig. 1). The basement of
the Darende-Balaban Basin is represented by Upper Ju-
rassic—Lower Cretaceous carbonate and ophiolitic rocks
forming structural highs in the north and the south of the
basin. The Eocene sediments discordantly and transgres-
sively overlie Cretaceous basement rocks (Fig. 2).

The Eocene succession consists of four lithostratigraph-

ic units (from the base upwards), namely the Korgantepe
Formation (Lutetian), the Yenice Formation (Lutetian), the
Asartepe Formation (Lutetian) and the Darende Formation

The Korgantepe Formation overlies Maastrichtian aged

limestones and siliciclastics with an erosional unconfor-
mity (Fig. 3). The maximum thickness of this unit of
100 m was measured in the northern part of the Darende-
Balaban Basin. The lower parts of the Korgantepe Forma-
tion consist of conglomerates deposited on Cretaceous
fine-grained sediments. The bed thickness of conglomer-
ates changes between 2 to 4 m. Conglomerates pass into
pebbly sandstones (1—1.2 m thick), then sandstones and fi-
nally sandstones with shale intercalations.

The Korgantepe conglomerates gradually pass upwards

into the Yenice Formation which is characterized by fine-
grained sediments. The Yenice Formation consists of two

main facies which were described previously as two mem-
bers of the Yenice Formation by Akku  (1971). These are
the Yenice marls and the Yenice calcarenites. The Yenice
marls are characterized by white to beige coloured, thin
bedded siltstone and marl alternations. The Yenice cal-
carenites occur mainly in the middle parts of the Yenice
Formation as lenticular geometries (Fig. 3). They consist
of carbonates clasts and some fossil (corals, algae and
nummulits) fragments.

The Yenice marls gradually passes upwards into Asartepe

Formation (Fig. 3). The Asartepe Formation consists of white-
yellow coloured, fine crystallized limestone and marly lime-
stone in the basal parts. This part contains fossils with
extrabasinal and intrabasinal clasts derived from underlying
units. Higher up the sections it gradually passes into pale
grey-green coloured, uniform medium- to thick-bedded lime-
stones. This part of the formation is characterized by corals,
algae, and other macro- and microfossils with less extrabasi-
nal fragments. A 120 m of limestone thickness has been mea-
sured from this area by Akku  (1971), but this thickness
laterally decreases down to 5 m and to even less because of
the lenticular geometry of the unit.

The Darende Formation is mainly composed of con-

glomerate, pebbly sandstone, sandstone-siltstone-marl al-
ternations interbedded with gypsum beds. The lower part
of the formation mainly consists of the coarse-grained sed-

Fig. 2. Generalized stratigraphy of the study area (modified after Kurtman & Akku  1974).

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Fig. 3. Field photographs from the southern part of the study area showing relationships of the lithostratigraphic units. a – Location of
the Asar hill section, looking towards to the east. b – Location of the Yenice section, looking towards to the west. Note the lenticular
shape and total thickness changes of the Yenice and Asartepe Formations.

Fig. 4. A field photograph from the east of Darende town, showing relationships between Asartepe and Darende Formations, looking
towards the south.

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iments. The middle part of the sequence is characterized
by, coarse- to fine-grained sandstones and marl intercala-
tions. All the sequence then fines upward into the fine- to
medium-grained sandstones with marls, then finally into
the marls towards to the central parts of the basin. Gypsum
beds were observed some parts of the formation (Fig. 4).

Material and method

The data presented here is derived from three different

projects done by the authors. Sections (Alidede Tepe,
Mercimek Tepe, Darende, Ayvalô, Dervi bey, Boztepe
and Polat) measured by Nazik (1993) around Darende
town – in the northern part of the study area, Sarôcakaya,
Gedik-Musu, Çatôkkaya, Haremi, Asar sections measured
by Erdoûan & Nazik (2003) from the southern part of the
study area were studied for foraminifers and ostracods.
Two representative sections, the Yenice section measured
by Gürbüz & Taptôk (2001) and the Asar section measured
by Erdoûan & Nazik (2003), were selected and used in this
paper to show the relationships between lithostratigraphic
units and foraminiferal abundance. One hundred grams of
rock material was washed from 80, 130 and 270 mesh
sieves for paleontological examinations. Total planktonic
and benthic foraminifers were counted for each sample for
all sections. Planktonic and benthic foraminiferal abun-
dancy diagrams are prepared for Middle Eocene units. Ad-
ditionally, benthic microfossil content from the thin
sections of Yenice calcarenites has also been identified.
Planktonic foraminiferal species identification was based
mainly on Stainforth et al. (1975) and Bolli et al. (1985).

Scanning electron microscope images (Figs. 5, 6) of se-

lected species were taken with Jeol JSM 5600 at ASSAN
(Tuzla-Istanbul). The fossil materials are housed in the De-
partment of Geology, Faculty of Engineering & Architec-
ture, Çukurova University in Adana/Turkey.

Beside the paleontological analysis of the measured

sections indicated here, the sedimentological properties of
each unit were also evaluated with their field and thin sec-
tion examinations from the sections measured by Gürbüz
& Taptôk (2001).


Fossil assemblages of Eocene sediments in the study

area consist of planktonic/benthic foraminifers and ostra-
cods (Figs. 7, 8).

Benthic foraminifers have been found within the Kor-

gantepe, Yenice and Darende Formations. Assilina ex-
ponens (Sowerby), Nummulites beaumonti d’Archiac et
Haime,  Nummulites millecaput Boubée, Nummulites aturi-
cus Joly et Leymerie are found in the Korgantepe Formation
and calcarenite levels of Yenice Formation whereas Asteri-
gerina rotula (Kaufmann),  Discocyclina sp., Fabiania cas-
sis (Openheim), Operculina sp., Planorbulina sp. occur in
calcarenite levels of Yenice Formation. Rotalia trochidifor-
mis Lamarck, Sphaerogypsina globulus (Reuss), Halk-
yardia minima Liebus, Quinqueloculina sp., Cibicides sp.,
Nonion sp., Nodosaria sp., Uvigerina sp., and Eponides  sp.
are found in the Darende Formation.

The planktonic foraminiferal assemblages from the Yenice

Formation consist of Acarinina bullbrooki (Bolli), Acarinina

Fig. 5. 1 – Acarinina bullbrooki (Bolli); a –umbilical view, b – spiral view, c – peripheral view; Sarôcakaya section, sample number  14.
2 – Acarinina matthewsae (Blow); umbilical view, Çatôkkaya section, sample number  9. 3 – Acarinina spinuloinflata (Bandy); umbilical
view, Çatôkkaya section, sample number 9. 4 – Subbotina cryptomphala Glaessner; umbilical view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number 14.
5  –  Subbotina eocaena Guembel; umbilical view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number  4. 6 – Globigerina venezuelena Hedberg; spiral
view, Çatôkkaya section, sample number  5. 7 – Globigerinatheka index (Finlay); umbilical view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number 1.
8 – Globigerinatheka mexicana mexicana (Cushman); umbilical view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number  9. Note: scale bar is equal to 100 µm.

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matthewsae  (Blow), Acarinina primitiva (Finlay), Acarinina
spinuloinflata  (Bandy), Subbotina cryptomphala (Subboti-
na), Subbotina eocaena (Guembel), Globigerina venezuela-
na  Hedberg, Globigerina yeguaensis Weinzierl et Applin,
Globigerinatheka index (Finlay), Globigerinatheka mexica-
na mexicana (Cushman), Globigerinatheka subconglobata
curryi  (Bolli), Globigerinatheka luterbacheri Bolli, Globi-
gerinatheka subconglobata subconglobata (Shutskaya),
Subbotina higginsi (Bolli), Truncorotaloides libyaensis El-
Khoudary, Truncorotaloides rohri Brönnimann et Bermü-
dez, Truncorotaloides topilensis (Cushman), Turborotalia
centralis  (Cushman et Bermüdez), Turborotalia cerroazulen-
sis cocoaensis (Cushman), Turborotalia cerroazulensis fron-
tosa  (Subbotina), Turborotalia cerroazulensis pomeroli
(Toumarkine et Bolli), Turborotalia cerroazulensis possag-
noensis  (Toumarkine et Bolli).

In addition, the ostracods Bairdia cymbula (Deltel),

Cytherella triestina (Kollmann), Cytherella ihsaniyensis
(Sönmez-Gökçen),  Krite rutoti (Keij) are found in the Yen-
ice Formation. The following ostracod species have been

Fig. 6.  1 – Globigerinatheka luterbacheri Bolli; spiral view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number 1. 2 – Globigerinatheka subconglobata
subconglobata (Shutskaya); spiral view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number 14. 3 – Subbotina higginsi Bolli; spiral view, Sarôcakaya section,
sample number 3. 4 – Truncorotaloides topilensis (Cushman); a – spiral view, b – umbilical view; Sarôcakaya section, sample number 14.
5 – Turborotalia centralis (Cushman et Bermüdez); a – spiral view, b – umbilical view; Sarôcakaya section, sample number 10. 6 – Tur-
borotalia cerroazulensis frontosa (Subbotina); a – umbilical view, b – peripheral view; Sarôcakaya section, sample number 1. 7 – Turboro-
talia cerroazulensis pomeroli (Toumarkine et Bolli); umbilical view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number 14. 8 – Turborotalia cerroazulensis
possagnoensis (Toumarkine et Bolli); spiral view, Sarôcakaya section, sample number 14. Note: scale bar is equal to 100 µm.

found in the Asartepe Formation: Bairdia (Bairdiopplata)
gliberti  Keij,  Echinocythereis isabenana Oertli, Echi-
nocythereis scabra (Munster), Krite rutoti (Keij), Xestole-
beris subglobosa (Bosquet), Pokornyella ventricosa
(Bosquet) and Uroleberis striatapunctata (Ducasse).
Quadracythere orbignyana (Bosquet), Nucleolina multi-
costata (Deltel), Pokornyella osnabrungensis (Lienen-
klaus) and Neocyprideis apostolescui (Keij) occur in the
Darende Formation (Nazik 1993).

The composition of the planktonic foraminiferaal as-

semblages allow us to distinguish the Acarinina bullbroo-
ki Zone in the Middle Eocene of the Darende-Balaban
Basin (Eastern Anatolia, Turkey).

Acarinina bullbrooki Zone

C a t e g o r y :

 Taxon range zone.

A g e :


A u t h o r :

 Krasheninnikov, 1965a,b, 1969.

D e f i n i t i o n :

 Range of zonal marker.

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Fig. 7. Microfaunal composition with the planktonic/benthic foraminiferal ratio of the Korgantepe and Yenice Formations, from the
Asar section.

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Fig. 8. Microfaunal composition with the planktonic/benthic foraminiferal ratio of the Korgantepe, Yenice and Asartepe Formations, from
the Yenice section. # – Thin section examinations, no planktonic/benthic foraminiferal ratio study has been done from the calcarenites.

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C o r r e l a t i o n   a n d   i n t e r p r e t a t i o n :



bullbrooki was used as zonal marker by Krasheninnikov
(1965a,b, 1969) for the base of the Middle Eocene. Bolli
(1957) used Hantkenina aragonensis as the zonal marker
of the Middle Eocene (P 10). The Hantkenina aragonen-
sis Zone is renamed the Hantkenina nuttalli Zone by
Toumarkine (1981). The characteristic taxa for the Mid-
dle Eocene and Late Eocene are Hantkenina,  Clavigerinel-
la,  Globigerinatheka and Turborotalia cerroazulensis
group.  Hantkenina and Clavigerinella have not been
found, whereas Acarinina bullbrooki,  Globigerinatheka
and  Turborotalia cerroazulensis group species are abun-
dant in the Darende-Balaban Basin. In higher latitudes,
some of the Middle and Late Eocene zonal marker are of-
ten missing (Toumarkine & Luterbacher 1985). For this
reason, an alternative zonal scheme from mid-latitudes
based on the evolution of the Turborotalia cerroazulen-
sis Lineage instead of parts of the Hantkenina nuttalli
Zone and the Globigerinatheka  subconglobata subcon-
globata Zone in the Eocene was proposed by Toumark-
ine & Bolli (1970). Alternative criteria for recognition of
the base of the Middle Eocene are the appearance of the
common and typical Acarinina bullbrooki according to
Stainforth et al. (1975).

Therefore,  Acarinina bullbrooki Zone is identified with-

in the Middle Eocene sequence in the study area. A. bull-
brooki Zone of Krasheninnikov (1965, 1969) is correlated
with Zone P10-11 of Blow (1969), Berggren & van Cou-
vering (1974) and the upper part of the Turborotalia cer-
roazulensis frontosa and Turborotalia cerroazulensis
possagnoensis Zone of Toumarkine & Bolli (1970)
emended Toumarkine (Toumarkine & Luterbacher 1985).

The  Acarinina bullbrooki Zone has an interregional im-

portance. It has been described in Egypt by Beckmann et
al. (1969), in the Haymana Basin (Middle Anatolia) by
Toker (1977) and Yôldôz & Toker (1991), in the Antakya
Basin (Southern Anatolia) by Yôldôz & Toker (1993) and

afak (1993) and in the Mut-Karaman Basin (Middle Tau-

rus) by  afak (1999) (Table 1).

Paleoenvironmental interpretations of the Middle


The paleoenvironmental interpretations of the Middle

Eocene formations described here are based on the ratio of
planktonic/benthic foraminiferal associations, other fossil
content, sedimentological characteristics of the sequences
and examinations of thin sections from the study area. The
planktonic/benthic ratio of foraminiferal associations
used for environmental studies is based on Murray (1991).

Korgantepe Formation

The Middle Eocene sedimentation starts with a transgres-

sive sequence and is represented by the Korgantepe Forma-
tion which discordantly overlies the basement rocks (Fig. 3).
This formation starts with an erosive basal conglomerates,
passes upward into pebbly sandstones and finally sand-

Fig. 9. A close-up view to the upper parts of the Korgantepe For-
mation, showing abundance of Nummulites fossils. Lens cap for
scale. From the Yenice section.

Fig. 10. Thin section photomicrograph from the Yenice marls.
Note to the abundance of the planktonic foraminifers. From the
Yenice section.

stones. It consists of ophiolitic and carbonate rock fragments
which were derived from the basement rocks.

The Korgantepe Formation contains large benthic fora-

minifers (Nummulites,  Assilina), which are abundant in
some levels; specimens of the genus Nummulites represent
up to 80—90 % of the fossil assemblages (Fig. 9). The
planktonic foraminiferal ratio is very low in this formation
(Figs. 7, 8).

The erosional base, lenticular geometry of whole strata,

sequence characteristics of this unit and paleontological
evidence derived from the Korgantepe Formation show
that this unit was deposited under nearshore, shallow ma-
rine (shoreline—shore face) conditions.

Yenice Formation

After the deposition of the Korgantepe Formation, trans-

gression is continued in this area and deposition repre-
sented by Yenice Formation. The Korgantepe Formation
gradually passes upward into the Yenice Formation.

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Table 1: A comparision chart for Acarinina bullbrooki Zone according to different authors.

Fig. 11. Thin section photomicrograph from the Yenice calcareni-
tes. Note to the intraclasts from the underlying marls with extra-
clasts from the basement rocks (a) and benthic foraminifers (b).
From the Yenice section. i – intraclast, e – extraclast, bf – benthic
foraminiferal (Discocyclina sp.).

Fig. 12. Thin section photomicrograph from the Asartepe lime-
stones. Note to the red Algea fragment and planktonic foraminiferal
rich intraclast (seen in the upper left corner of photo) derived from
the Yenice marls. From the Asar section. i – intraclast, ra – red
Algea, bf – benthic foraminifer.

It consists of marls alternated with fine-grained sandstones
and siltstones at the lower parts. This part of the sequence
consists of less rock fragments and some macrofossils
compared to the Korgantepe Formation. The middle and
upper part of the Yenice marls represented by beige co-
loured marls with abundant microfossils (Fig. 10).

This marly part then passes upward into the Yenice cal-

carenites which are deposited as lenticular geometry within

the Yenice Formation. They consist of thin- to medium-  in
the lower, medium- to thick- in the middle and thin- to
medium-thick beds in the upper parts. Extrabasinal (ophi-
olitic and carbonate grains) and intrabasinal (especially
reworked from underlying units, for example: from the
Yenice marls) grains, Nummulites, coral and algea have
been established from thin sections (Figs. 11, 12).

The Yenice calcarenites are overlain by the upper part

of the Yenice marls. These marls again have very similar
characteristics to the lower marl levels.

The fossil assemblages of the Yenice Formation gener-

ally consist of planktonic foraminifers and rare specimens
of ostracods. Specimens of Acarinina,  Truncarotaloides,
Globigerinatheka  and Subbotina are abundant in this for-
mation.  Krithe and Cytherella (marine ostracods) are
found together with planktonic foraminifers. The plank-
tonic/benthic foraminiferal ratio in the Yenice marls is the
highest among all the studied lithostratigraphic units. The
planktonic foraminiferal ratio is lower within the Yenice
calcarenites if compared to the one in the Yenice marls
(Figs. 7, 8).

All the data presented here show that the lower and up-

per Yenice marls were deposited under deep-marine condi-

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tions. A sea-level drop that took place after the first marl
level and deposition is reflected by the calcarenites. Their
lenticular geometry, paleocurrent data and abundance of
reworked grains from the lower part of the Yenice marls
show that the Yenice calcarenites were deposited above
and close to the wave base. The second phase of deepen-
ing of the sea is reflected by deposition of the upper part
of the Yenice marls.

Asartepe Formation

The Eocene sea started to become shallow again after

the upper levels of the Yenice marls. This event is repre-
sented by the occurrences of carbonates of the Asartepe
Formation. The Asartepe Formation is mainly represented
by coral and algal rich lenticular reef bodies within the ba-
sin. These reef carbonates show typical characteristics of
isolated platforms with their lenticular geometry.

Bairdia subdeltoidea (Muenster), Krithe rutoti (Keij),

Echinocythereis lutfullahi Sönmez-Gokcen, Legumi-
nocythereis sp., Pokornyella ventricosa (Bosquet) from
ostracods and Nummulites perforatus (Monfort), Nummu-
lites beaumonti d’Archiac et Haime, Nummulites aturicus
Joly et Leymerie, Fabiania cassis (Openheim),  Assilina
exponens (Sowerby), Dentalina communis d’Orbigny
from benthic foraminifers are observed within marly
limestone levels of the Asartepe Formation (Nazik 1993).
The planktonic/benthic foraminiferal ratio in this lithos-
tratigraphic unit is lower than in the Yenice marls and
calcarenites (Fig. 8).

The extrabasinal (less fragment compared to the Yenice

calcarenites) and intrabasinal (intraclasts, corals and algae
with some benthic foraminifers) grains, lenticular shape
and the geometry of the formation indicate that the Asarte-
pe Formation was deposited as reef patches (isolated plat-
forms) in a shallow marine sea.

Darende Formation

Continued lowering of the sea level is represented in

this basin by the Darende Formation. The Darende Forma-
tion consists of sandstone, siltstone and marls alternations
with some conglomerates. There are some evaporitic oc-
currences in the northern and southern parts of the basin
intercalated with the clastics (Fig. 4).

Bairdia,  Nucleolina,  Quadracythere,  Pokornyella (os-

tracods) and Nodosaria,  Sphaerogypsina,  Halkyardia,
Quinqueloculina (benthic foraminifers) are found in marl
and fine-grained sandstone levels. All these data suggest
that this formation has been deposited under shallow ma-
rine conditions. Evaporite occurrences with shallow ma-
rine intercalations in the lower part of the formation may
also suggest a possible lagoonal environment in this area.


All the data presented in this study show that the Middle

Eocene sequences consist of siliciclastic and carbonate

sediments deposited in a range of environments from very
shallow (the Korgantepe, calcarenite levels of the Yenice,
Asartepe and Darende Formations) to  deep marine (marl
levels of the Yenice Formation).

The Acarinina bullbrooki Zone is identified within the

Middle Eocene planktonic foraminiferal assemblages.
This biozone is compared to the ones proposed by Blow
(1969), Krasheninnikov (1965a,b, 1969), Beckmann et al.
(1969), Toumarkine & Luterbacher (1985) and other stud-
ies from Turkey.


The authors are grateful for financial

support provided by the Research Fund of Çukurova Uni-
versity (Grants FBE.2002.YL.79 and MMF.2001.17). We
are grateful to Prof. Dr. Niyazi Av ar (Çukurova Universi-
ty) for determination of benthic foraminifers. Thanks are
due to Prof. Dr. Engin Meriç (Istanbul University), Murat
Dündar and Hüsnü Öztürk (ASSAN-Tuzla-ùstanbul) for
SEM photographs. Thanks are also due to Dr. Zeki Billor
(Çukurova University) and Research Assistant Ula  ùnan
Sevimli (Çukurova University) for their help.


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Ayan T. & Bulut C. 1964: General geology of the area defined by

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