The Greater Caucasus evolved in the Jurassic as a large elongated back-arc basin on the northern periphery of the Neo-Tethys Ocean. The semi-quantitative analysis of proportions between marine and continental facies for each of 67 time slices produced a detailed curve depicting transgressive and regressive episodes. Five remarkable peaks on this curve are interpreted as the maximum flooding surfaces (MFSs). They are established at the Sinemurian/Pliensbachian boundary (MFS1), in the upper Pliensbachian (MFS2), the lower Aalenian (MFS3), the upper Bajocian (MFS4) and the lower Tithonian (MFS5). All surfaces except for MFS4 occur within typical MFS-marking layers. The Jurassic MFSs of the Greater Caucasus Basin do not match transgression peaks of the 1st-order cycles of Western Europe and the MFSs of Arabia. Their correspondence to the global eustatic peaks also remains uncertain. The most unexpected event is found in MFS3, which occurs at a time of prominent global sea-level fall. Errors in constraints and interpretations as well as influences of regional tectonic activity explain a specificity of the regional MFSs. The use of the regional Jurassic MFSs from the Greater Caucasus Basin for correlation purposes, therefore, appears doubtful.
The evolution of sedimentary basins can be explored by analyzing the changes in their lithologies and lithofacies (i.e. predominant lithologies). The Greater Caucasus Basin, which was located at the northern margin of the Neotethys Ocean, represents a complete Sinemurian-Tithonian succession. A quantitative analysis of compiled datasets suggests that principal lithologies and lithofacies are represented by siliciclastics, shale and carbonates. The relative abundance of siliciclastics and shale decreased throughout the Jurassic, whereas that of carbonates increased. Evaporites are known from the Upper Jurassic, while volcaniclastics and volcanics, as well as coals, are known only in the Lower to Middle Jurassic. Siliceous rocks are extremely rare. Lithology and lithofacies proportions change accordingly. The Sinemurian-Bathonian sedimentary complex is siliciclastic-and-shale-dominated, whereas the Callovian-Tithonian sedimentary complex is carbonate-dominated. A major change in the character of sedimentation occurred during the Aalenian-Callovian time interval. Regional transgressions and regressions were more important controls of changes in the sedimentary rock proportions than average basin depth. Landward shoreline shifts were especially favorable for carbonate accumulation, whereas siliciclastics and shale were deposited preferentially in regressive settings. An extended area of the marine basin, its lower average depth, and a sharp bathymetric gradient favored a higher diversity of sedimentation. An orogeny at the Triassic-Jurassic transition was responsible for a large proportion of siliciclastics and extensive conglomerate deposition. An arcarc collision in the Middle Jurassic also enhanced the siliciclastic deposition. Both phases of tectonic activity were linked with an increase in volcanics and volcaniclastics. Volcanism itself might have been an important control on sedimentation. A transition to carbonate-dominated sedimentation occurred in the Late Jurassic, reflecting a tectonically calm period.
The Mesozoic stratigraphic record of northern Eurasia includes a total of 1,739 formations. The proportion of conglomerate, sandstone + siltstone, shale, carbonates, evaporites, siliceous rocks, and volcanics + volcaniclastics among sedimentary complexes are evaluated for each epoch of the Mesozoic. Sandstone, shale, and conglomerate occur in 86%, 71%, and 42% of formations respectively. Less common are carbonates (28%) and volcanics and volcaniclastics (24%), whereas evaporites and siliceous rocks are rare (< 5%). The proportion of particular sedimentary rock types fluctuates throughout the Mesozoic. The proportion of sandstone + siltstone changes quite similarly to that of shale. A comparison of stratigraphic data from northern Eurasia and North America reveals some similarities, including a Lower Triassic increase in the conglomerate proportion, a Middle-Upper Triassic increase in the proportion of siliceous rocks, Upper Triassic-Lower Jurassic and Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous “clastic spikes”, and a Middle-Upper Jurassic “carbonate-evaporite spike”. They may reflect any global-scale processes. Increases in clastic deposition coincided with eustatic lowstands, whereas voluminous accumulation of carbonates and evaporites tended to coincide with global sea-level rises. It remains unclear whether global climate was responsible for changes in the proportion of sedimentary rock types.
Analysis of continental-scale lithostratigraphic data may facilitate an understanding of global sedimentary processes. The number of carbonate-bearing formations established in northern Eurasia (430 in total), northern Africa and Arabia (47 in total), and India (98 in total) is calculated per epochs for the last 145 Ma. The results show maxima in the Late Cretaceous, the Eocene, and the Miocene and minima in the Paleocene, the Oligocene, and the Pliocene. The Quaternary records are somewhat ambiguous. The similarity of the patterns established in the three regions argues for a single globalscale mechanism of carbonate accumulation. The noted patterns also coincide well with some modeled changes in the global amount of carbonates accumulated by epoch. Moreover, increases in the amount of carbonates in the Late Cretaceous and the Eocene, and a decrease in the Paleocene, reflect true changes in the accumulation rates. The global process of carbonate accumulation might have been controlled, at least, by eustatic changes (sea-level rise led to broad transgressions on continental margins and consequently to expansion of shelfal paleoenvironments) and climate dynamics (warm water facilitated carbonate production). Interestingly, no dependence between the global carbonate accumulation and marine biodiversity dynamics is established.
The diversity of the brachiopods in the Northern Caucasus significantly fluctuated throughout the Paleozoic-Mesozoic. Weak diversifications occurred in the Middle Cambrian, Late Silurian - Early Devonian, and Late Devonian - Early Carboniferous. Since the Late Permian brachiopod assemblages became quite diverse. The maximum number of species was reached in the Rhaetian. The Permian/ Triassic mass extinction and enigmatic Ladinian crisis, on the other hand, led to regional brachiopod demises. In the Jurassic - Early Cretaceous interval the diversity of brachiopods generally decreased. The strongest drops of species numbers occurred in the Toarcian and Berriasian following the Pliensbachian-Toarcian and end-Jurassic global mass extinctions, and in the Kimmeridgian due to the regional salinity crisis. It is evident that some of the regional brachiopod diversifications coincided with the development of rimmed shelves.
The Uljanovsk-Saratov Basin, located in the southeast of the Russian Platform, presents an intriguing record of the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian sea-level fluctuations. In the Late Jurassic, this basin was a trough within the Interior Russian Sea. The data available from both outcrops and boreholes have permitted outlining a number of lithostratigraphic units and regional hiatuses in the northeastern segment of the Uljanovsk-Saratov Basin, thus permitting a precise reconstruction of transgressions/regressions and deepenings/shallowings. In total, three transgressive-regressive cycles and two deepening pulses have been established. These regionally documented changes were both related in part to global eustatic changes, and they also corresponded in part to the regional sea-level changes in some basins of Western Europe and Northern Africa, but not to those of the Arabian Platform. Differences observed between the global and regional curves as well as rapid Tithonian sea-level oscillations are explained by the influences of tectonic activity. It is hypothesized that the regional Tithonian oxygen depletion might have been a consequence from the rapid flooding of a densely vegetated land.