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6 Stratigraphy

The stratigraphy of the Surma Basin (SB) and surrounding areas is summarized in Table-
2. The stratigraphy of the Neogene Surma Group sediments of SB is presented on the
basis of core sample studies (n=188) and of palynological studies (74) of six exploratory
wells: AtgramIX, Fenchuganj2, Habiganj1, Kailastila1, Patharia5 and Rashidpur1.
The studied samples range in depth from 959m to 4735m.
Detailed description of the various lithologies composing the Surma Group are
provided in the measured cores of the wells (appendix-1) and also presented graphically
(Fig. 5).
The Surma Group (SG) is a thick sequence of clastic sediments consisting of an
alternation of sandstone, shale and siltstone that infilled the vast basinal area of the
Bengal Basin during Miocene-Pliocene time. In the subsurface, the unit is represented by
thick sand-shale sequences in all the wells drilled in the area. The Surma Group
unconformably overlies the Barail Group of the Oligocene age and is overlain by the
sandstone dominating the Tipam Group of the Pliocene age (Holtrop and Keizer 1970).
The SG is divided into a lower Bhuban formation and an upper Bokabil formation based
on gross lithology.

6.1 Lithofacies
Two major lithofacies were identified in the SG unit: sandstone lithofacies A and
combined facies B consisting of claystone, mudstone and shale. Facies B is the most
abundant, whereas facies A is less common. These lithofacies generally are defined on
the basis of grain size, clay content and depositional bedding characteristics. Facies A
consist of massive, thinly inter-bedded and inter-laminated, fine to medium-grained
sandstone.
Facies B consists of laminated bluish, bluish gray and gray to black shale from gray to
yellowish-gray siltstone to very fine grained sandstone. Lithofacies A may grade
vertically into the combined lithofacies and be interbedded with the combined lithofacies.
Facies B shows two types of lithofacies in the shaly layers. They are:
4
1
a) homogeneous shale and
b) shale with sand or sand partings. The first type shares the most abundant lithofacies.
Lithofacies B is composed of siltstone and sandstone lamine, layers are generally 1-
5mm thick. Thick intervals as much as 30-40cm are common in the lithofacies B.

6.2 Palynological study


Palynological studies based on 74 selected core samples from the wells of Atgram IX,
Fenchuganj 2, Habiganj 1, Kailastila 1, Patharia 5 and Rashidpur 1. Details of
the samples are given in appendix 1 and 2 (* marked). The samples were selected from
all the cores of the wells representing the various lithostratigraphic positions. From
individual cores, the samples were selected so that the top, bottom and the middle of the
cores are represented. The study was aimed to establish the age of the SG,
palynostratigraphy in order to better constrain reconstruction of palaeoenvironmental and
palaeoclimatic variations in Bangladesh during the Neogene.

6.3 Pollen data and pollen assemblage zone


Pollen analysis has been performed on selected samples. In order to make sense of the
considerable amount of data shown in a typical pollen diagram it is necessary to divide
the diagram into pollen-stratigraphic units characterized by distinctive groups of pollen
types. In this way, pollen zones were constructed from the samples of Fenchuganj-2 and
are presented in Figs 7 and 8.
Detailed palynological studies of this area is lacking because of poor preservation of
the palynomorphs. Palynomorph recovery from the cores of the wells drilled in the area
was few. In some parts the wells were almost void of specimen. Palynomorph content in
the prepared palynological slides for palynostratigraphic analysis were extremely poor for
the present study. No palynomorphs (other than fungal spores) were detected in 38 out of
the 74 slides. Due to this, the idea of a quantitative analysis of palynomorphs was
abandoned except for the Fenchuganj well 2. The results of this well allowed us to make
some quantitative analysis and a qualitative analysis was attempted for the remaining
wells. No palynological research paper has been published from this region yet.
Identification and comparison were made for the present study on the basis of published
literature on the Tertiary Palynology of the Assam and the Bengal Basin of India (Table 1
and Table 2).

6.4 Palynostratigraphic zonation


Among the wells studied, palynomorph recovery was predominantly good only for the
Fenchuganj well 2. Both the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the palynoflora was
possible only for this well. A total of 35 samples were selected from 12 cores of this well
for palynological study. The depth of the samples ranged from 957.6 m to 4095 m. The
palynoassemblages from sediments recovered from SG (Miocene) are rich in
pteridophytic spores and angiospermous pollen grains whereas the gymnospermous
pollen grains and fungal remains are comparatively less represented. The assemblage
consists of 63 genera and 95 species of palynomorphs. The SG sediments dominantly
consist of shale with some sandstones.
On the basis of the qualitative and quantitative analyses of the palynoflora, the SG
sequence of this well has been divided into three biostratigraphic zonations. The
following parameters have been taken into consideration to establish and recognize these
zones: a) Maximum development of various palynotaxa, b) the first and last appearance
of them, and c) decline, restricted occurrence and absence of certain palynotaxa.
Then comparisons with other similar palynoassemblages of surrounding areas (India)
were made along with interpretations regarding paleoclimate, environment of deposition
and age.

6.4.1 Palynostratigraphic zonation of Fenchuganj well 2


The three local palynostratigraphic zones in the SG sediments sequence of Fenchuganj
well 2 are as follows in ascending order of stratigraphy.
iii) Disaccate Zone, ii) Tricolpate-trilete zone, and i) Palmepollenite zone.
i) Palmepollenite zone. This zone constitutes the lower biostratigraphic unit of the SG.
The zone is characterized by Palmepollenites which are abundant.
Species restricted to this zone are lygodiumsporites, Trilete Cing 1a, Polypodiisporites
Oligocenisus, Monolites mawkmaensis, Texodium, Tsuga, Inaparturate L1a, Inapeturate
reticulate, Retipilonapites, Cl-grain 1a, Diporopollenites, Polycolpites sp, Monaporites
anulatus, Polyporina, Chamopodiacea, Tricolporates (C3P3)-Pet 2a and
Fusiformisporites.
The following characteristic palynotaxa have been identified - Cyathidites minor,
Lycopodium sporites, Cicatricosisporites macrocostatus, Schizacea, Trilete-L1a, Trilete-
ret 1a, Trilete-granu 1a, Trilete-verru 1a, Trilete sig+rug 1a, Iaevigatosporites 1a,
Verrucatosporites, Emparitus dissaccate, Inaperturate L1a, Couperipollis sp, Dicolpites
Tricolpats C3-4a, C3-L2a, C3-ret 1a, C3-ret 2a, C3-verru 1a, Marginipolis sp,
Meyeripollis naharilotensis, Carya, Betula, Triporopollenits sp, P3 L2a, P3 ret 2a, P3
grain 1a, Florschuetzia levipolli, Rhizophora, C3P3- L1a, C3P3 -L2a, C3P3-Pet 1a,
Hystriokiospheridum and Fungus remains.
Comments. The significant feature of this zone is that the Palmepollenite constitutes
31 % of the sequence. The dominance of this taxon, is, therefore, important and helps us
in distinguishing from the overlying Tricolpate-trilete zone.
Pteridophytic spores contains 48 % in this zone. Angiouspermous pollen grains
represent 50% while gymnospermous pollen grains are insignificantly represented by 3.8
%. Among the pteridophytic spores, triletes are very abundant. Trilete spores are
represented by Cicatricosisporites macrocostatus, Trilete levigates, Trilete reticulate,
Trilete granulate and Trilete verrulate. Monolete forms are mainly Laevigatosporites
Type-1.
Pollens of Graminidites have not been observed in this zone.
Presence of Rhizophora pollen provides a basis to interpret the paleoenvironment of
the drilled sequence.
Last appearance: Monolites mawkamaensis, Monoporites anulatus, Tsuga, Texodium
and Inaperturates L1a.
ii) Tricolpate - trilete zone. Tricolpates (C3) and Triletes (T) are the most common
forms of palynoforms. Some of the forms were restricted to this zone only.
Species restricted to this zone are Tricopates rug1a type, Carpinus, Triporopollenits
Scab 1a, Polygonacidites sp, Syncolporats sp, Trilete-rug 1a, Dandotriasporits sp. and
Eximispera.
Characteristics palynotaxa are Cyathidites minor, Triletes L1a type, Triletes ret 1a,
Triletes grain 1a, Triletes-verru 1a, Disaccate striat, Palmepollenites, Couperipollis sp,
Tricolpates (C3)-L1a type, C3-rat 2a, C3-scab 2a, C3-apl 1a, Marginipollis sp,
Triporopollenites ret 1a, Rhizophora, Tricolporates (C3P3) Pet 1a type, C3P3 -Fov 1a,
C3P3 - Scab 1a, Hystrichospheridum.
Comments. This zone is characterized by very high frequency of Tricolpate-Triletes
which is about 50% of the palynofossils. For this reason the zone is named after these
taxon. Graminitides is conspicuous by its complete absence in this zone.
Gymnospermous pollen grains are about 4%, the presence of Rhizopora pollen is
important for paleoenvironmental interpretation.
iii) Disaccate zone. This zone shows a clear dominance of Disaccate pollen. Ninety
eight forms of disaccate were present in the zone.
Species restricted to this zone are Sphagnum, Undulatisporites, Polypodiaceosprites,
Trilete-fov 1a type, trilete-apl 1a type, Striatopollis bellus, Florschuetzia levipoli,
Tricolporates granulates 1a, Tetracolporates L1a, Tetred and Alnipollenites.
Characteristic palynotaxa identified in this zone are Cyathidites minor, Lycopodium
sporites, Cicatricosisporites macrocostatus, Schizaccae, Trilete L1a, Tret 1a, Tgran 1a,
T -verru 1a, Laevigatosporites, Verrucatosporites, Emparitus, Monolet ret 1a,
Palmepollenites, Couperipollis sp., Tricolpate L1, C3 - L2a, C3 - ret 1a, C3 - ret 2a, C3 -
verru 1a, C3 - scab 2a, C3 - apl 1a, Marginipollis sp., Meyeripollis naharikotensis,
Carya, Betula, Triporopollenites, P3 - L2a, P3 - ret 1a, P3 - ret 2a, P3 - grain 1a,
Triolites L1a, Florschuezia meridonalis, Rhizophora, Nyssa pollenites sp.,
Triporopollenites - L1a, C3P3L2a, C3P3scab 1a, Hystrioispheridum.
Comments. Disaccate is the dominant pollen of this zone. Pteridophytes are usually
represented by the monolete forms such as Levigatosporites, and Verrucatosporites, as
well as by a few trilete spores like Cyathidites minor. Monocolpate pollen occur in low
frequencies and are represented by the genus palmepollenites.
The microfloral association of the Palynological zone I can be compared with the
palynological assemblage of the Simsang Palynological Zone IV of Meghalaya, India
(Baksi 1965) and the Bengal Palynological Zone (BPZ) V (Baksi 1971) and indicate
Lower to Middle Miocene age. The presence of Rhizophora pollen and the presence of
dynoflagillates provide a basis to interpret the paleoenvironment of the drilled sequence
as brackish to shallow marine deposits. Representative forms of Foraminifera also
indicate that sediments may be deposited in shallow marine condition.
The microflora of the Palynological zone II can also be compared with those of the
Simsang Palynological Zone IV of Meghalaya, India and BPZ V (Baksi 1971). Based on
these comparisons the Palynological Zone II is presumed to be of Middle to Upper
Miocene. It is interesting that the floral change from monolet pollen Palmepollines to
Tricolpate trilete could be recognized well by an increase in frequency by 50%. The
presence of mangrove pollen Rhizophora indicates the brackish environmental deposition
of this drilled sequence.
The microfloral assemblage of the Palynological Zone III may be compared with
Simsang Palynological Zone IV of Meghalaya, India (Baksi 1965) and BPZ Zone V of
Bengal (Baksi 1971). According to these comparisons, the age of Palynological Zone-III
is presumed to be Upper Miocene.
A significant floral change has been observed in this zone by the abundance of
dissacate pollen and a decline in the pteridophytic spores, particularly triletes. These
pollens might have migrated from the extra-peninsular region in the north, which would
have been sufficiently high during Lower Miocene.

6.4.2 Atgram well IX

In this well, 15 samples were taken from a depth ranging from 3 638 m to 4 735 m, but
the recovery of palynomorphs were from only four samples representing three different
cores. The qualitative analysis of palynoassemblage reveals the presence of following
taxa: Bisaccate, Laevigatosporites, Rhizophora, Disaccate, Gymnosperm, Cyathidites
minor, Verrutriletes, Cicatricosisporites, Palmepollenites, Couperipolies, Polypo-
diaexoisporites, Verrucatosporites, Simsangia, Meyerripollies Naharkotensis,
Polypodeace, and Florschuetzia trilobata.
Among Foraminifera, Hystrichosphaeridium and Veryhachium were present in the
area. Some dinoflagillete cysts were also identified in the sequence. The age of the
sequence has been identified as Miocene Foraminifera with Hystrichospheridium
indicates a marine- brackish environment. Hystrichospherida is a widely distributed facies
indicator. The presence of reworked microfauna elements and conifer pollens, together
with the transgression indicators, indicate an increased tectonic activity in the Surma
Basin during this period and they are related to the burial of the basin and the uplift of the
Himalayas.

6.4.3 Habiganj well 1


In this well, only three samples were productive out of 19 samples ranging from 1250 m
to 3125 m. The three samples were representing three different cores. The qualitative
analysis of palynoassemblage reveals the presence of the following taxa: Disaccate
pollen, Pteridophyte Monoletes, Cicatrieosisporites, Laevigatosporites, Tetracolpates,
Alnipollenites, Triporopollenites, Simsangia, Monocolpate, Triporate, Tricolpites,
Tricolporopollenites, Varrucosisporites sp., and Polypodiisporites. The samples were
identified as Pliocene to Miocene in age.

6.4.4 KailasTila well 1


In this well, ten samples ranging from 1 175 m to 3 969 m were taken for the study but
only four samples were productive. The following palynotaxa were identified: Disaccate
pollen, Pteridophyte Monoletes, Cicatricosisporites, Laevigatosporites, Tetracolpate,
Alnipollenites, Triporopollenites, Simsangia, Monocolpate, Triporates, Bissaccates,
Graminidites sp., Cyathidites, Polypodisporites, Trilete, Verrucosisporites,
Polypodiacoispoiretes, and Lycodiumsporites.
Some dinocysts (Indeterminate) were also observed. The samples were identified as
Pliocene to Lower Miocene in age.

6.4.5 Patharia well 5


The qualitative analysis of palynomorphs of the Patharia well-5 has been done on the
basis of 12 core samples ranging from 956,1 m to 2 833 m taken from 5 cores. Summary
of Palynostratigraphy of Patharia well-5 is given in Table 6.
The samples were identified as Lower Miocene in age (Lower Bhuban).
Characteristic palynomorphs are: Disaccate, Verrucatosporites, Simsangia,
Cicatricosisporites, Polypodiaceoisporites, Palmaepollenites, Couperipollis,
Gymnosperm, Triorite, Verrutriletes, Monocolpate, Meyernipollies Naharkotensis, and
Florschuetzia.
Forms of Foraminifera that were encountered in the core no. 3 and 4 are: Globogerine
bulloids, Globoretalia, Globigerinoides, and Haplophragioides.
The environment of deposition was brackish to shallow marine condition for this well.
The samples studied were identified as Lower Miocene age (Lower Bhuban).

6.4.6 Rashidpur well 1


Only few palynomorphs were recovered from the samples in this well. Five samples were
productive out of 10 samples ranging from 1 081 m to 2 477 m. The palynomorphs
encountered in this well were: Disaccate pollen, Pteridophyte monoletes,
Cicatricosisporites, Laevigatosporites, Tetracolpate, Alnipollenites, Triporopollenites,
Simsangia and Monocolpate. Some dinocyst (Indeterminate) were observed also.
6.4.7 Comparison with surrounding areas (from India)
The microfloral association of the Palynological zone I can be compared with the
palynological assemblage of the Simsang Palynological Zone IV of Meghalaya, India
(Baksi 1965) and the Bengal Palynological Zone (BPZ) V (Baksi 1971) and indicate a
Lower to Middle Miocene age. The presence of Rhizophora pollen and the presence of
dynoflagillates provides a basis for interpreting the palaeoenvironment of the drilled
sequence as brackish to shallow marine deposits. Representative forms of Foraminifera
also indicates that the sediments may be deposited in a shallow marine condition.
The microflora of the Palynological zone II can also be compared with those of the
Simsang Palynological Zone IV of Meghalaya, India and BPZ V (Baksi 1971). Based on
these comparisons, the Palynological Zone II is presumed to be of Middle to Upper
Miocene. It is interesting that the floral change from monocolpate pollen Palmepollines to
Tricolpate - trilete could be recognized well by an increase in frequency by 50 %. The
presence of mangrove pollen Rhizophora indicates the brackish environmental deposition
of this drilled sequence.
The microfloral assemblage of the Palynological Zone III may be compared with the
Simsang Palynological Zone IV of Meghalaya, India (Baksi 1965) and BPZ Zone V of
Bengal (Baksi 1971). According to these comparisons, the age of Palynological Zone-III
is presumed to be Upper Miocene.
A significant floral change has been observed in this zone by the abundance of
dissacate pollen and a decline in the pteridophytic spores, particularly triletes. These
pollens might have migrated from the extra-peninsular region in the north which would
have been sufficiently high during the Lower Miocene.

6.4.8 Comparison with other Miocene Assemblages

6.4.8.1 Assam and Meghalaya sequences


Baksi (1965) reported Simsang Palynological Zone IV from the southern Shillong
Plateau, Assam, now Meghalaya. That assemblage contained a few marine
hystrichosphaerids and microforaminifers in the lowermost part. Marine micro-organism
disappeared in the middle part of the zone. There are some common elements between
the Miocene assemblages of Simsang Palynological Zone IV and the well studied. The
abundance of bisaccate coniferous pollen belonging to Coniferipites Baksi and a
restricted occurrence of Coniferipites chattacharai are the characteristic features of
Simsang Zone IV assemblage. In the present study, bisaccates occur sporadically in the
Miocene assemblages but Podocarpidites pollen resembling Conferipites chattacharai is
restricted to the Miocene, as it is in Simsang Zone IV assemblage.
Also, Baksis Schizaeaceaesporites and Parkeriaceaesporites appear to be equivalent
to Magnastriatites howardi, but they are more abundant in the Simsang Zone IV (Sah and
Dutta 1967), as they are in the Miocene of the studied well.
In addition, the long-range taxa Spinosopites acolporata, and Polypodiaceaesporites
sp. of Baksi (= Verrucatosporites usmensis) and various palm pollen occur in both
assemblages. Sah & Dutta (1967) described the stratigraphic succession of the Tertiary
palynomorphs in Assam. They reported high abundances of Cicatricosisporites
macrocostatus (Baksi et al. 1967) in the Miocene.

6.4.8.2 Bengal Basin


In describing the Bengal basin Zone V and VI, Baksi (1971) points out that they indicate
a major shift of flora elements due to well recognized tectonic events related to the
Himalayan orogeny, involving the uplift of the South Shillong Front and the associated
development of progressively colder climates in the surrounding areas of the Bengal
Basin (including the Surma Basin). Baksi also states that the Simsang Palynological Zone
IV can be confidently correlated with the Bengal Palynological Zone V by the index
elements designated by him as Coniferipites Cicatricosisporites Assemblage Zone.
This assemblage appears to be equivalent to Zone - III.
Meyeripollis naharkotensis occurs sporadically in the Simsang palynological Zone IV
(Miocene) of Meghalaya (Baksi 1965). In this respect the study area bears a significant
resemblance to the Simsang Zone IV. Other resemblances are the presence of
Schizaeaceaesporites sp. of Baksi, 1962 (= Magnastriatites howardi), small tricolporate
pollen, Parkeriaceaesporites of Baksi, 1962 (= Verrucatosporites usmensis).
Comment. Palynomorph recovery was very poor. Only Fenchuganj well-2 slides allow
one to make quantitative analysis.