GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, FEBRUARY 2009, 60, 1, 35—41 doi: 10.2478/v10096-009-0004-5
The investigated area is situated in western Serbia, in an ex-
tremely complex geotectonic setting (Fig. 1). In the territory
of western Serbia, there are two belts of ophiolitic mélange
overlain by large ultramafic massifs. The more external belt is
known as the Dinaridic Ophiolites or Dinaridic Ophiolite Belt
(Pamić et al. 2002; Karamata 2006) or as the Central Dinaridic
Ophiolite belt (Lugović et al. 1991). The more internal belt is
referred to as the Vardar Zone Western Belt by Karamata
(2006), but also referred to under a variety of names such as
Inner Dinaridic ophiolite belt (Lugović et al. 1991), External
Vardar Subzone (Dimitrijević 1997, 2001) or simply Vardar
Zone (Pamić et al. 2002). These ophiolite belts are separated
by the Drina-Ivanjica Element. The majority of authors re-
garded the Drina-Ivanjica Unit as a continental terrane that
was originally located between two separate oceanic basins
(Dimitrijević & Dimitrijević 1973; Robertson & Karamata
1994; Dimitrijević 2001; Karamata 2006). Others postulated
that this element was formed by out-of-sequence thrusting
from the European margin (Pamić et al. 1998; Hrvatović &
Pamić 2005). According to Schmid et al. (2008), Drina-Ivanjica
is a thrust sheet which was probably emplaced in Early to mid-
Cretaceous times on top of the East Bosnian—Durmitor thrust
sheet. Like the East Bosnian-Durmitor composite thrust sheet,
the Drina-Ivanjica thrust sheet also carried passively the previ-
ously obducted Western Vardar ophiolites (Zlatibor ophiolites).
Early Senonian radiolarian microfauna and biostratigraphy
from the Western Vardar Zone (Western Serbia)
, NATAŠA GERZINA
, VIOLETA GAJIĆ
and NEBOJŠA VASIĆ
Department of Paleontology, Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade, Kamenička 6, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia;
Department of Geology, Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade, Kamenička 6, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia;
Department of Petrology and Geochemistry, Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade, Djušina 7, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia;
(Manuscript received February 21, 2008; accepted in revised form June 12, 2008)
Abstract: The studied deposits represent the sedimentary cover of ophiolitic mélange of the Western Vardar Zone Belt.
An association of sediments that correspond to a primary pyroclastic material occurs in the Upper Cretaceous carbonate
sediments near the village of Struganik (Western Serbia). This is an interlayer within mainly carbonate sediments
represented by limestone, clayey limestone and marlstone. It is made of the following succession: a lamina made of
crystalline quartz, sanidine, plagioclase and biotite and a layer of clay. The clay is of the smectite type, highly crystal-
line. The age of the radiolarian assemblage from the clay layer is assigned to Early Senonian, based on the co-occur-
rence of radiolarian taxa: Dictyomitra formosa Squinabol, Dictyomitra koslovae Foreman, Dictyomitra torquata Foreman,
Alievium sp. cf. A. superbum (Squinabol) and Pseudoaulophacus sp. cf. P. venadoensis Pessagno. The pyroclastic
material was brought into the water environment by a cloud that was formed after an explosive eruption whose exact
location cannot be determined at the moment. According to geological data, there are no indications of volcanic activity
before the Late Cretaceous in the wider studied area. Marine sedimentation continued after gravitational differentiation
of pyroclastic material. The results of petrological and sedimentological investigations reveal that Struganik Limestone
originated in a deep-water environment and that the sedimentation area was on the continental slope.
Key words: Upper Cretaceous, NW Serbia, Vardar Zone Western Belt, Radiolaria, pyroclastic, smectite.
Fig. 1. Sketch of the terranes of central and western Serbia (accord-
ing to Karamata et al. 2000) with the position of the studied locali-
ty. DHCT – Dalmatian-Herzegovinian Composite Terrane;
CBMT – Mid-Bosnian Mountains Terrane; EBDT – East-Bos-
nian-Durmitor Terrane; SUT – Sana-Una Terrane; DOB – Dinar-
idic Ophiolite Belt (Terrane); DIE – Drina-Ivanjica Element
(Terrane); VZWB – Vardar Zone Western Belt; JBT – Jadar
Block Terrane; KBR – Kopaonik Block and Ridge; MVZ – Main
Vardar Zone; SMCT – Serbo-Macedonian Composite Terrane;
black – ophiolite massifs: b – Borje; i – Ibar; Kk – Krivaja-
Konjuh; m – Maljen; o – Ozren; z – Zlatibor.
DJERIĆ, GERZINA, GAJIĆ and VASIĆ
The Jadar Block is considered (by the majority of Serbian
geologists) to be either an integral part of the Vardar Zone
(Dimitrijević 1997) or an exotic body pushed into the Vardar
Zone in the Late Cretaceous (Karamata et al. 1994). Accord-
ing to some recent interpretations, the Drina-Ivanjica and Ja-
dar units structurally underlie Neotethyan ophiolites of
Jurassic age that were obducted onto the Adria margin dur-
ing the Late Jurassic (Schmid et al. 2008).
The present-day tectonic contact between the Drina-Ivanjica
and the Jadar Block is very steep and has a strong dextral strike-
slip component (Gerzina & Csontos 2003). In the literature, this
contact is referred to as the “Zvornik suture” (Dimitrijević
1997) that is supposed to mark the ophiolitic suture between the
continental Drina-Ivanjica and Jadar Block Terranes (Karamata
2006). According to Schmid et al. (2008), the Zvornik “suture”
simply represents the northwestern continuation of the long belt
of Senonian flysch, which marks the tectonic boundary between
the Drina-Ivanjica and Jadar-Kopaonik thrust sheets.
There are opinions that the ophiolites in these two ophio-
lite belts resulted from the obduction of just one ocean (Pa-
mić 1998; Pamić et al. 2000; Csontos et al. 2003; Schmid et
al. 2008). The occurrence of ophiolites in two and not only
in one belt is due to out-of-sequence thrusting and later
nappe refolding during Cretaceous and Cenozoic orogenic
phases (Csontos et al. 2003). The majority of Serbian geolo-
gists, however, are of the opinion that these ophiolitic belts
represent remnants of two different oceanic environments.
In the wider studied area, Cretaceous sedimentation begins
with the Albian transgression. Terrigenous-carbonate and
carbonate sedimentation continued from the Albian to the
Maastrichtian, while flysch sediments were deposited during
the latest Senonian (Filipović et al. 1978).
The aim of this study was to present information on the
Upper Cretaceous radiolarian assemblage from the rocks
which cover the ophiolites of the Vardar Zone Western Belt.
The clay in which radiolarians were found is of volcanic ori-
gin and this is the first finding of smectite clay in Upper Creta-
ceous sediments of Serbia. Due to the tectonic position of the
investigated area, we consider that this paper is an important
contribution to better understanding of the geological evolu-
tion of the area during the Cretaceous, which will enable com-
parison with similar rocks in the surrounding regions.
The wider investigated area is situated in the Vardar Zone
Western Belt (Western Serbia), north of the large ophiolitic
complex of Maljen and Suvobor (Fig. 2). The underlying
ophiolitic mélange was formed due to the closure of the oce-
anic area during the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous (Cson-
tos et al. 2003, 2004; Schmid et al. 2008).
The sedimentary cover of the ophiolites in the wider area
of the village of Struganik is represented by the Albian-Cenom-
Fig. 2. Simplified and modified geological map of the wider surroundings of the investigated area with the position of the studied locality
(Struganik quarry), based on the Geological Map of Former Yugoslavia 1 : 500,000. VZWB – Vardar Zone Western Belt, JB – Jadar
Block, DIE – Drina-Ivanjica Element.
EARLY SENONIAN RADIOLARIAN MICROFAUNA AND BIOSTRATIGRAPHY (WESTERN SERBIA)
anian conglomerates, conglomeratic limestone and sand-
stone (Filipović et al. 1978; Rabrenović et al. 2002). Cenom-
anian sediments in the area of Struganik are represented by
conglomerate, conglomeratic-sandy limestone and sand-
stone. These sediments are concordantly overlain by grey
and bluish marlstone with abundant floral detritus, limestone
and marly sandstone. The uppermost part of the Cenomanian
is mostly made of marlstone with rare intercalations of lime-
stone. The Cenomanian age of the sediments was document-
ed paleontologically and it was based on macrofauna (Ostrea
carinata, Caprinella triangularis, Puzosia planulata, Acan-
thoceras mantelli, Turilites costatus, etc.; Marković & An el-
ković 1953) and microfauna (Rotalipora appenninica, R.
cushmani, Praeglobotruncana stephani, Globigerina infra-
cretacea; Filipović et al. 1978). Turonian sediments are rep-
resented by detritic limestone with intercalations of
marlstone, reddish layered cherty limestone, marly-sandy
conglomeratic limestone and reddish marly claystone with
limestone intercalations. Their Turonian age was document-
ed by microfauna (Praeglobotruncana helvetica, Rotalipora
sp., Globotruncana laparenti coronata etc.; Filipović et al.
1978). Senonian sediments are best exposed in the village of
Struganik. They are represented by the so-called Struganik
Limestone, a series mostly made of thin-layered limestone,
clayey limestone and marlstone. Chert concretions are
present in all levels. The Senonian age was documented on
the basis of macrofauna (Inoceramus balticus, Inoceramus
lamarcki; Marković & An elković 1953) and microfauna
(Globotruncana stuarti, G. tricarinata; Filipović et al.
1978). A layer of green-grey pelitic sediments, which corre-
spond to a primary pyroclastic material, occurs within the
Senonian limestone and marlstone (Vasić et al. 2005).
The pyroclastic material was brought into the aquatic envi-
ronment most probably by a cloud that was formed after a
volcanic eruption. Crystalloclasts, as the largest clasts, were
the first deposited from the cloud by gravitational differenti-
ation, forming a lamina. Finer grains, fragments of volcanic
glass in the first place, formed the overlying layer. The vol-
canic glass was transformed into smectite clay by diagenetic
processes (Vasić et al. 2001, 2005).
Petrological characteristics of the Struganik
The local lithological column, in which a layer of primary
pyroclastic sediments was noticed, was measured on the lower
level of a quarry in Struganik (coordinates: x – 7428643,
y – 4894326, z – 366 m). The thickness of the column is
11.5 m (Fig. 3).
The autochthonous sediments are platy and bedded car-
bonate rocks with contents of CaCO
(calcite) from 50 to
88 %, which classifies them as marlstone-marly limestone in
the Bart classification. According to the Folk classification
(Folk 1959), the sediments correspond to micrite, fossilifer-
ous micrite and biomicrite with an association in which glo-
botruncanas, poorly preserved radiolarians and silicisponge
spicules (calcified) are conspicuous. Laminas (up to 5 mm
thick) that represent biomicrite with dominant globotrun-
canas were found in marly limestone and marlstone in the
lower part of the column made of micrite. Traces of life ac-
tivity, namely biogenic structural forms, are present on bed-
ding surfaces in these rocks.
The column is composed of four beds (30—75 cm) of lime-
stone, which is defined as biosparite, biointrasparite, cal-
carenite and calcirudite (Fig. 2). These limestones are
characterized by gradation, horizontal and wavy lamination.
A thick limestone bad is characterized by continuity of the
structures from the lower to the upper bedding surface,
which corresponds to the Tb-c succession of the Bouma se-
quence (Bouma 1962) (Fig. 4).
In a lithological sense, graded limestone begins with
coarse-grained varieties (calcirudite-calcarenite), and ends
with fine-grained allochemical-sparry varieties (biosparite
and biointrasparite). Paleodictyon structure (Seilacher 2007)
was noticed on the lower surface of a layer made of al-
lochemical-sparry limestone (Fig. 5). All the types of car-
bonate rocks contain concretionary cherts in the form of
lumps, lenses and concretionary interlayers (Fig. 3).
In the lower part of the column, within the sequence of
marly limestone, there is an association of sediments, which,
according to all its characteristics, corresponds to primary
pyroclastic material. The association is composed of a lami-
na (1 mm) made of crystalloclasts (crystalloclastic tuff) and
a layer of clay (10 cm) (Fig. 6).
Fig. 3. Local lithologi-
cal column of a part of
the Struganik quarry,
DJERIĆ, GERZINA, GAJIĆ and VASIĆ
Crystalloclasts of quartz, feldspars, and biotite are petro-
genetic components in the lamina of crystalloclastic tuff.
Quartz is completely transparent (vitrified). Quartz grains
are usually broken. Bipyramidal grains, which undoubtedly
point to the volcanic origin, are present as well. Feldspars are
represented by transparent sanidine with clearly visible fis-
sility and acid to intermediate plagioclases of milky-white
colour. The most abundant coloured mineral is biotite.
Clay occurs in the form of a 10 cm thick layer which direct-
ly overlies the lamina of crystalloclastic tuff. XRF analyses
identified three crystal phases. Clay minerals of the smectite
group prevail, while calcite and quartz are subordinate. The
results of differential thermal and thermal gravimetric investi-
gations show that the clay is made of smectite and about 10 %
of calcite. The analysed smectite corresponds to Al-montmo-
rillonite with Ca and Mg, as interlayer cations, which was con-
firmed by chemical analyses (Table 1).
Fig. 4. Bouma sequence in allochemical-sparite: interval of parallel
lamination (b) and interval of wavy lamination (c), Struganik quar-
ry, western Serbia (photo V. Gajić).
Fig. 5. Paleodictyon structure in allochemical-sparry limestone,
Struganik quarry, western Serbia (photo V. Gajić).
Fig. 6. Upper Cretaceous layers in the Struganik quarry: A – Crys-
talloclastic tuff laminae; B – Smectite clay and C – Marly lime-
stone Struganik, western Serbia (photo V. Gajić).
Fig. 7. Microphotograph of 0.063—0.125 mm fraction separated
from smectite clay, Struganik quarry, western Serbia. A – Apatite;
R – Radiolarians; S – Spongi spicules, and C – Zircon.
Table 1: Chemical composition of smectite clay (fraction separated
minor off 5
µm) from the Struganik quarry section.
EARLY SENONIAN RADIOLARIAN MICROFAUNA AND BIOSTRATIGRAPHY (WESTERN SERBIA)
Optical analysis of the fraction separated from the clay by
wet sieve analysis (sieve size 0.063 mm) was performed.
The content of this fraction is smaller than 5 %. About 80 %
of the fraction is made of tiny monoclinic crystals of calcite.
A concentrate of non-carbonate constituents, composed of
organic and inorganic part, was attained by removal of cal-
cite (quick treatment by dilute hydrochloric acid). The inor-
ganic part is mostly made of quartz crystalloclasts and small-
er amounts of sanidine and plagioclase. Accessory minerals
are represented by zircon, apatite, amphibole and tourmaline.
The organic part is made of silicisponge spicules and of bro-
ken (to a lesser extent) or well-preserved radiolarians (Fig. 7).
It is important to emphasize that the size of crystalloclasts in
the clayey layer decreases in the upward direction.
Fig. 8. The Early Senonian radiolarian assemblage from the Struganik quarry (Sample 212). 1 – Pseudoaulophacus sp.; 2 – Pseudoaulo-
phacus sp. cf. P. venadoensis Pessagno; 3—5 – Alievium sp. cf. A. superbum (Squinabol); 6—8 – Dictyomitra koslovae Foreman; 9 – Sti-
chomitra sp.; 10—11 – Dictyomitra formosa Squinabol; 12 – Dictyomitra sp. cf. D. formosa Squinabol. Scale bar for all specimens = 50
DJERIĆ, GERZINA, GAJIĆ and VASIĆ
All the radiolarian specimens presented in this study were
obtained from a single clay sample (Figs. 3, 6). The produc-
tive sample 212 is from grey, soft clay and it was treated
only with water. The clay intercalations of carbonate sedi-
ments from Struganik contain well preserved but relatively
diverse radiolarian fauna. Radiolarians occur together with
abundant sponge spicule fragments and sponge carcasses.
The radiolarian fauna of sample 212 comprises (Fig. 8): Dic-
tyomitra formosa Squinabol, Dictyomitra koslovae Foreman,
Dictyomitra torquata Foreman, Alievium sp. cf. A. superbum
(Squinabol), Pseudoaulophacus sp. cf. P. venadoensis Pes-
sagno, Pseudoaulophacus sp. and Stichomitra sp.
According to Schaaf (1985) and Bandini et al. (2006) the
range of Dictyomitra formosa Squinabol is Late Albian to
Early Campanian. According to several authors (Nakaseko
& Nishimura 1981; Mizutani et al. 1982 and San Filippo &
Riedel 1985) Dictyomitra koslovae Foreman characterizes
the interval Santonian—Campanian. However, data of Vish-
nevskaya (2001) and Deschamps et al. (2000) suggest that
Dictyomitra koslovae Foreman indicates the interval Conia-
cian—Early Campanian. The presence of Dictyomitra torqua-
ta Foreman and Pseudoaulophacus sp. cf. P. venadoensis
Pessagno, confirms that the fauna cannot be younger than
the Early Campanian (O’Dogherty 1994; Vishnevskaya
2001). Ohmert (2006) suggested that Alievium superbum
(Squinabol) indicates the interval Turonian to Coniacian,
sometimes to Santonian. Therefore the age of the fauna
could be assigned to Early Senonian.
This assemblage is similar to the Late Cretaceous assem-
blage of Romania (Vishnevskaya 2001), Great Caucasus
(Vishnevskaya 2001) and Nicoya Complex, Costa Rica (De-
nyer & Baumgartner 2006).
The radiolarian assemblage derived from a single sample,
thus the vertical distribution of radiolarian taxa in the section
could not be studied. Therefore, only basic data on these fos-
sils are presented here and they were used for new biostrati-
When we talk about the environment of deposition of the
investigated rocks and marine sediments, there could be two
explanations. The first refers to the environment and condi-
tions of deposition of the autochthonous rocks in which the
lamina made of crystalloclastic tuff and the layer of clay are
found. The mechanism of inflow and deposition of pyroclas-
tic material should also be explained.
Autochthonous sediments are represented by marly lime-
stone and marlstone of micritic to biomicritic composition,
in which badly preserved radiolarians and silicisponges are
found. The presence of well-preserved silicisponge spicules
and radiolarians in clay should also be mentioned. The Early
Senonian age of the analysed clay is based on radiolarians.
Concretionary cherts indicate the presence of organogenic
siliceous remains. Such an association of rocks and fossils is
characteristic for a deep-marine sedimentation area. The dis-
tinct predomination of silicisponge spicules over radiolari-
ans in clay (noticed in carbonate sediments and particularly
in clay) points to a moderately deep-water environment
(Vishnevskaya 1984). A finding of Paleodictyon is another
indicator of a deep-water environment, to the boundary of
bathyal-abyssal. Presence of layers of allochemical-sparite,
calcarenite and calcirudite with the characteristic textures
from the Bouma sequence points to occasional inflow of
shallow-water material by turbiditic flows along the conti-
nental slope, that is through the bathyal zone. According to
these data, it can be concluded that the Struganik Limestone
originated in a deep-water environment, in a sedimentation
area on the continental slope.
The mineralogical characteristics of the crystalloclastic tuff
and clay show that the primary material was of volcanic origin
– the pyroclastic material, from which these sediments origi-
nated, was a product of acid-to-intermediary volcanism (quartz-
sanidine-plagioclase-biotite). The pyroclastic material is, for the
most part, made of fragments of volcanic glass (vitroclasts) with
some crystalloclasts (fragments, most probably of phenocrysts).
The largest crystalloclasts occur in the lamina made of crystal-
loclastic tuff, while smaller crystalloclasts are present in the lay-
er of clay with a tendency towards upwardly decreasing
grain-size. This fact is very important because it indicates that
the primary accumulated pyroclastic sediment was graded. Dif-
ferentiation of the pyroclastic material by size was gravitational,
that is the largest clasts were deposited first and accumulation of
finer clasts followed. A rather transparent pyroclastic cloud was
blown by wind above the Upper Cretaceous Ocean. Due to
slower movement of the cloud, gravitationally differentiated fall
of clasts started and it continued through the aqueous environ-
ment all the way to the sedimentation area on the continental
slope where the material was eventually deposited as a graded
layer. This event was very short in a geological sense and it
was followed by sustained deep-water sedimentation. In an
early phase of diagenesis, fragments of volcanic glass were
transformed into clay minerals from the smectite group due to
reaction with the intergranular sea water. Geochemical charac-
teristics of the environment in which the transformation oc-
curred, resulted in the formation of montmorillonite with Ca
and Mg, as interlayer cations.
Acknowledgments: We wish to thank Prof. Valentina Vish-
nevskaya for her kind contributions during the preparation of
this paper. The authors gratefully acknowledge Ugur Kagan
Tekin and Jozef Michalík for their constructive comments on
the manuscript. The work was supported by the Serbian Min-
istry of Science and Technological Development (Projects
No. 146009 and 146013).
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