ABSTRACT: The Kurdistan region of northern Iraq contains world-class outcrops that make it possible to examine the Cretaceous deep and shallow marine Tethyan faunal succession. Six separate sections covering the Shiranish, Bekhme, Mergi and Qamchuqa formations have been investigated in this study from the Shiranish Islam area. A number of papers have been published on this area, but no comprehensive biostratigraphic record has been published that fully documents the Cretaceous stratigraphy and the chronostratigraphic interpretation of the succession. As a result, this has led to significant lithostratigraphic and chronostratigraphic uncertainties. The upper part of the Qamchuqa is pervasively dolomitized. Rare occurrences of foraminifera are found in less dolomitized intervals in thin-section indicating an early - middle Albian age for the top of the formation. A thin interval comprising the Gir Bir Formation is Cenomanian in age and is present between the top of the Qamchuqa Formation and the overlying conglomerate. Historical studies indicate that the Turonian Mergi Formation occurs between the Qamchuqa and Bekhme formations, but our field and analytical data does not support it as a discrete lithostratigraphic entity, as Turonian aged faunas were not recognized. The conglomerate separating the top of the Gir Bir and base of the Bekhme is subdivided into three units (A, B & C). Units A and B are late Cenomanian to early Turonian age, whilst Unit C is of Campanian age. A significant hiatus separates the Gir Bir and the Bekhme, which encompasses the intra Turonian to Santonian. The limestone facies of the lower part of the Bekhme Formation contains rich benthic foraminiferal faunas (miliolids, Pseudedomia, Cuneolina) of early - early middle Campanian age. This lower - lower middle Campanian section at Shiranish Islam is considered to be equivalent of the upper part of the Sa'di Formation in central Iraq and is therefore re-assigned on the basis of chronostratigraphic attribution to the Sa'di (equivalent) herein. The top of the early - early middle Campanian biofacies is abruptly truncated by an omission surface, marked by an erosive base, an influx of clastic material and a major up-section biofacies change characterized by an influx of Pseudosiderolites and Orbitoides representing an intra-Campanian hiatus. The bioevent sequence suggests that this hiatus at Shiranish Islam comprises at least the middle Campanian (upper part of the G. elevata Zone) into the late Campanian (intra R. calcarata Zone), from approximately 80.64 Ma to 76.09 Ma with 4.55 my missing. The middle part of the Bekhme Formation comprising the Pseudosiderolites - Orbitoides facies is thin (c. three meters) and is re-assigned to the Lower Bekhme Member. The boundary between the Lower Bekhme Member and the Upper Bekhme Member is conformable and marked by a gradual up-section reduction in the size and presence of larger benthic foraminifera (Orbitoides, Pseudosiderolites) and an increase in the planktic component (small planktics and calcispheres). This trend of gradually increasing water depth continues into the Shiranish Formation, with no apparent major breaks in deposition. The Campanian - Maastrichtian boundary falls within Unit A of the Shiranish Formation. Deposition of the Shiranish continued into the earliest late Maastrichtian and is unconformably overlain by the Danian Kolosh Formation. The hiatus between the top of the Cretaceous and the Paleocene extends from the early late Maastrichtian (c. 68.86 Ma) to the upper part of the Danian (62.2 Ma) with an estimated duration of 6.66 my.
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