Two Barremian-Aptian sequences studied in Durango and Nuevo Leon States, northeastern Mexico include three lithic units which have been described as the Cupido Formation of Barremian-early Early Aptian age, its lateral equivalent, the Lower Tamaulipas Formation, and the La Pena Formation extending through the early Albian.
The present work improves the existing ammonite Aptian biozonation by considering constraints associated with a discontinuous spatial and temporal record of the different taxa within the La Pena Formation.
Four ammonite biozones are established: 1) The Dufrenoyia justinae Zone for the late Early Aptian, 2) The Burckhardtites nazasensis/Rhytidoplites robertsi Zone for the middle Aptian, 3) The Cheloniceras inconstans Zone for the early Late Aptian, and 4) The Hypacanthoplites cf. leanzae Zone for the late late Aptian.
Also, a detailed sedimentological analysis of the sections shed further light on the possible causes that controlled intermittent occurrences of the ammonites in relation to the prevailing paleoceanographic and paleoecologic conditions in northeastern Mexico during the late Barremian-Aptian.
Microfacies analyses show that the upper part of the Cupido facies are represented by biocalcirudite with rudists, biocalcarenites with oolites and algae, and rich benthonic foraminifera assemblages with ostracods. These facies are related to paleoceanographic conditions of sedimentation within a shallow-marine carbonate platform. Its lateral equivalent, deep-water facies extended to the southeast and it is represented by the Lower Tamaulipas Formation, which includes planktonic foraminifera, ostracods, and mollusk and echinoid fragments. The beginning of deposition of the La Pena Formation in the late Early Aptian is characterized by an increase in terrigenous materials and significant decrease in the abundance of benthic fauna. The La Pena Formation is recognized by an alternation of marls and shale limestones containing ammonites, planktonic foraminifera, ostracods, and radiolaria toward the top. Accumulation of the La Pena continued throughout the end of the Aptian and records changes in conditions of sedimentation and productivity in the water column, which abruptly terminated the carbonate deposition in the Cupido Platform. Results of carbon/carbonate content analyses show that changes from the Cupido to the La Pena facies are also characterized by an increase of organic carbon, which indicate the onset of enhanced dysoxic/anoxic conditions in the lower water column.