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IOSR Journal of Applied Geology and Geophysics (IOSR-JAGG)

e-ISSN: 23210990, p-ISSN: 23210982.Volume 3, Issue 5 Ver. I (Sep. - Oct. 2015), PP 01-08

First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation,

Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan Region, NE-Iraq
Kamal Haji Karim1, AmanjIbrahim Fattah2 and Fouad MohammedQader3

(Department of geology, School of Science/ University of Sulaimanie,Kurdistan Region, Iraq )

Abstract: Thick beds of detrital and stromatoliticlimestones are found for the firsttime inside Upper Bakhtiari
Formation in two different localities in the Sulaimani Governorate, NE-Iraq. The first locality is Dokan area at the
northwestern limb of Kosrat anticline while the second one is located in the Garmianarea betweenChamchamaland
QadirKaram towns.The limestones change laterally and vertically to conglomerate of the latter formation.The beds
are located on or inside the conglomerateof latter formation and only in one place it changes laterally to green marl.
Petrographically the limestones consistof alternation of limestone layers of intraclastic, oolitic and pisoidal
andoncoidallithology.The lithology indicates relatively sudden environment changes and unstable energy regime
which most possibly indicated deposition in freshwater lakes. The lakes are formed due fluvial activities such as river
cutoff (oxbow lake)and river damming by rock slides or river plugging. The paleogeography of the Upper Miocene
and Pliocene had assistedthe deposition of the limestone in the lakes due to compartment of source areas. In many
areas, the source area was consisted of limestone terrains during latter two ages and from these terrains the
carbonate rich solution and clasticsare supplied to the rivers and the lakes in which carbonates had deposited.
Keywords: Bai Hassan Formation, freshwater limestone, limestone beds,Upper Bakhtiari Formation, stromatolitic



The Upper Bakhtiari is well known for its polymictic conglomerate in Iran and Iraq and Turkey which
consist of mixture of gravels and boulders of cherts, limestones and Igneousclasts. While the record of occurrence of
bedded limestone in the Upper Bakhtiari Formation is the first one in the present study. But it does mean that it has
not some indirect background in the literatures as Karim and Taha (2012)[1] has studied in detail a succession of
limestone conglomerate that belong to Upper Bakhtiari (Bai Hassan) Formation.they cited that the succession is
about 300m thick and located around Dokan dam; therefore they call it Dokan Conglomerate. They attributed the
deposition of limestone conglomerate to nature of the source area which was consisted of exposure of limestone such
as Qamchuqa Formation. In Iran, Sahraeyan (2013)[2] has recorded clast-supported limestone conglomerate under
Bakhtiari Formation. He assigned it as a non-marine depositional system of braided rivers.
According to Jassim and Goff (2006)[3], the Bakhtiari Formation (including Upper and Lower Bakhtiary)
was first described from Iran by Busk and Mayo in 1918 and the formation was recognized by Bellen et al. (1959)[4]
with using same term in Iraq too. In Iraq the name of the Lower and Upper Bakhtiari formations are changed to
Mukdadiya and Bai Hassan formations respectively by Al-Rawiet al. (1993)[5].Buday (1980)[6] cited that the
formation in is largely made up of coarse and thick fluviatile and estuarine conglomerates, products of erosion of the
rising mountain ranges, deposited in one or more sinking troughs in front of those ranges. They added that in the
folded zones residual and terrace gravels of Recent and Pleistocene age rest with high angular discordance on deeply
eroded Upper Bakhtiari and older formations.The formation is composed almost purely of terrigenousclastics from
silt size to boulder conglomerates. In general, the grain size of the clastics increases upward. The prevalence of the
conglomerates in the upper part of the formation had been the main' reason for considering that part as an
independent formation (Bellenet al.1959)[4].
The Upper Miocene- Pliocene conglomerate consists of very thick pile of pebbles, pebbly sandstone and
interbedded with red claystone and erosional surfaces. This pile includes Mukdadyia and Bai Hassan (Lower and
Upper Bakhtiari) Formations.The thickness of the latter Formation(mainlyasconglomerate) is more than 1500m and
is located mainly in the Low folded Zones. The paleocurrent of this conglomerate is towards southwest (Karim et al.,
2009)[7]. In addition to conglomerate, Bai Hassan Formation containsthick beds ofclaystone and sandstone in fining
upwards cycles. The lower contact with Mukdadiyah Formation isconformable and marked at the base of the first
conglomerate bed (Al-Musawi, 2008)[8].


Locationand Geomorphology

During fieldwork, on the outcrops of the Upper Bakhtiari Formation,limestone beds arefound in two
different areas inside the formation. The first locality is located about 10 kms to the northwest of Dokan Town at 500
m to the southeast of Mewzha villageon the northeastern side ofKosratMountain(or anticline) inside the High Folded
Zone (Fig.1, 2 and 3).The latitude and longitude of thelocation are 36o06-28.52= N 44o48-04.46= E .Thislocation is
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First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation, Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan
looking (from the south) over the Dokan lake and Marga plain.These beds are referred to in the ext as northern
The second one is located between the three villages of Hanara(atsouthwest), Mordana (at the west) and Hama Sherif
(at northeast). These villages are located at 18 and 3kms to the south of and northwest of Chamchamal
andTakyiayJabary townsin the side Low Folded Zone (Fig.4and 5). At this location, two outcrops are found which
are separated by 700mand the latitude and longitude of the outcrops are 35o22-38.3= N 44o45-47.5= E.and 35o22-0.3=
N 44o46-19.5= E. These beds (two outcrops) are referred to in the text as southernlimestone.

III. MaterialsandMethod of The Study

The study depends both on the field work and microscopic study of the samples by which the lithology and
fossils of the samples are studied. Fifteen thin sections are prepared for petrographic study and three samples are
prepared and sent to England for nannofossils analysis by Nannofossils Consultancy Ltd, London. The location of
the limestone beds are plotted on topographic maps which later changed to geological map. The previous studies
reviewed and used to find the previous study about Bakhtiari Formation. The main material of this study is beds of
limestone that are apparently associated with the conglomerate of Upper Bakhtiari Formation.

Fig.(1)Tectonic map of the Northern Iraq (Jassim and Goff, 2006)[3] on which the location of the limestone
outcrops are shown

Fig. 2: Geological map of the studied area (modified from Karim and Taha, 2012)[1]
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First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation, Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan

Fig.(3)Bedded (freshwater) limestone inside Dokan Conglomerate south and southeast of Mewzha village.

Fig.(4)Topographic map of the area between Chamchamal and QadirKaram towns shows the location of the two
outcrop of limestone inside Upper Bakhtiari Formation

Fig.(5)Outcrop of the limestone bed of the southern limestone near TakyaiJabari town. The gradation
of the limestone to conglomerate can be seen in the photo C.
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First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation, Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan
IV. Petrography of The Limestone
Both the northern and southern limestones are nearly similar in lithology as they consist of massive or well
bedded milky to grey limestones and they are hard and coherent. In both locality, they laterally and vertically change
to conglomerate and the transitional zone consist of pebbly limestone. In one locality, the southern limestone changes
to green marl from which samples are taken for age determination by nannofossils.
4-1-Detrital limestone
In the published work of Karim and Taha (2012)[1] a 300m of limestone conglomerate succession (Dokan
conglomerate) is found in the same area of the northern limestone. The latter two authors proved that Dokan
conglomerate is proximal sediment of Upper Bakhtiari Formation. This succession can be considered as the detrital
limestone of very coarse grain (in the size of gravels). Since the northern limestone of the present study is associated
with the Dokan conglomerate, therefore the detrital limestone of sand size is not strange to the studied area as both
derived from limestone terrain source area.
The detrital limestone beds are clearer in the northern limestone than the southern one and they consist of
crudely laminated beds about 30-100 cm thick.Under the 10X hand lens the detrital grain can be seen as white and
rounded grains more or less similar to cluster of rice grains.Perographically, they consist, under polarized
microscope,of fine grain of dark colorwhich are sorted and rounded with the sand size. The grains havemore or less
diffused boundaries and milkycolorandcalciticmatrix (Fig.6). The beds of the detrital limestone change laterally and
vertically to limestone conglomerate. No dolomite lithoclasts and fossilbioclasts are observed among the grain. This
may due to weakness (against reworking) of these two grain types while the pure limestone grains are most resistive
to breakdown especially in the fresh water. The detrital limestone contains of petrified plant roots fragments and
calcified plant debris. The fragment are dark brown in color and has the thickness of 5- 20 mm, the fibers and cortex
cell of the petrified root remains can be seen on the surface (Fig.7). The debris exists as elongate and randomly
arranged fragments which appear as scratches of knife on rocks (Fig.7).

Fig.(6)A) elongate superficial ooids and B) detrital limestone grains in the northern limestone.

Fig.(7)A) plant debris that preserved the fibers and cortical cells of root. B) The limestone contains plant debris that
is replaced (by calcite) elongate plant debris, vugs and fenestrae. Both samplesare fromMewzha village
4-2-Stromatolitic limestone
Stromatoliticlimestone is nearly similar to detrital limestone in color and laminations but the lamination are
more crumpled and with lighter and darker color tones between the alternating lamina.Under polarized microscope
the limestone appear as alternation of dark and light color fine grain limestones which are crinkled and may be
associated with detrital limestone. These grains, as a lamina alternate with stromatolitic limestone lamina. Both types
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First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation, Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan
of limestones have the milky colorand have characteristics of lacustrine limestone that are given by Freytetand
Verrecchia(2002)[9] whom stated that they are varved, laminated, homogeneous, peloidal, brecciated, gravelly,
bioturbated (burrows), bioclastic, algal, and stromatolitic.They added that detrital beds are sometimes present and are
interpreted as bottomset deposits.
The stromatolitic limestone (Fig.9 B) containsfenestraltexturewhich determined by Flugel (2010)[10], that is
results from grain bridging and gas bubble Formation associated with decomposition or organic material. After that,
the open spaces of the fenestral fabrics are filled with sparite. Friedman (1995) observed same texture (or facies) in
the upper parts of tidal flatsof Arabian Gulf.
The Evidencethat UpperBakhtiari Conglomerate contain of fresh water limestone is the content of petrified
plant roots from which the fibers and cortex sell can be seen on the surface of petrified root remain (Fig. 7). These
limestones are deposited in the lakes that were formed due to streams channel abandonment or due to growth of
anticlines in front of streams or in front of alluvial fan.
4-3-Oolitic limestone
Ooids are one of the constituents of recent and ancient carbonate successions in the studied area since
Khanaqa et al (2013)[11],Ameen(2008)[12] and Karim et al. (2009)[7] found ooids in the recent, Cretaceous and
Jurassic rocks respectively. According to Davies et al., (1978),three conditions are usually considered necessary for
ooids formation which are (1) water supersaturated with aragonite or high-Mg calcite, (2) availability of a of nuclei,
and (3) presence of the above two condition in an agitation milieu.Pacton et al (2012)[13] discussed the role of the
microbs in formation of ooids.
In the southern and northern limestones, coatinggrains are abundant in the form of pisolite and irregular
oncoids. But well developed ooids are not found which notifies important signature which will be discussed in the
other sections. The observed ooids are radial ones which are consisting of the radial needles and have fibrous form.
The needles are needles are usually truncated by the next layer and arranged as concentric dark and pale grey laminae
within the cortex (Fig.8A).When the grain has only one dark micritic thin layer it called cortoid.According to
Flugel(2004)[10] the radial ooids are formed in quiet water of marine and nonmarineenvironment
4-4-Oncoid andpisoid
Oncoidsare generally similar to tangential ooids which havesize oflarger than 2mm in diameter. Ameen
(2008)[12], Daod and Karim (2010)[14] and Karim et al (2011)[15]hadfound oncoids in Cretaceous, Jurassic and in
recent sediments in the studied area.According to Boggs (2009)[16],pisoids are coated grains that resemble ooids but
they differ in theirinternal structures and they are generally less uniform in shape and larger (several millimeter to
centimeters). Most of them are non-marine in origin.
The thin sections study shows that both southern and northern limestonescontain large (more than 2mm in
diameter) irregular coatedgrainsthat satisfythe above characteristics of both oncoids and pisoids but they are more
close to the latter one (Fig.9). Under polarized microscope both limestone are similar to calcreteas they show signs
of both leaching, deposition and encrustation. In rare case the dripstones can be seen

Fig.(8A)Radial ooids and, B) with internal sedimentation (dark areas) limestone in the northern limestone, S6,

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First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation, Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan

Fig.(9)Highly amalgamated limestone with irregularpisoid in the southern limestone inQadirKaram area. B)
Stromatoliticlimestone withbirds eye


Origin of The Limestone Bed

The record of the limestonebeds inside the Upper Bakhtiari Formation is extraordinary event since this
formation is known for its prevalence of conglomerate and other clastics. However, Karim and Taha (2012)[1] found
300 meters of limestone conglomerate in Dokan area and they proved that it belongs to Upper Bakhtiari Formation.
The proving was based correlationof the limestone conglomerate withits equivalent inside proper Upper Bakhtiari
Formation near Taqtaq town. In Iran,Sahraeyan et al. (2013) [2] havefound limestone in the southwest Iran inUpper
Fars (Aghajari) Formation which is equivalent to Lower Bakhtiari Formation of Iraq. They cited that the limestone
exists in a section which is about 2221 m thick and consisted of sandstone, claystone and conglomerate.
The deposition of limestone beds in side Upper BakhtiariFormation is due to the fact that in many places
the source area was compartmentalized during Upper Eocene Pliocene to different drainage basins with different
rocks outcrops. Some basins were consisted oflimestone source area while others were consisted of mixed rocks
(sedimentary and ophiolite) source area. According to Karim and Taha(2012)[1], from the limestone outcrops
limestone conglomerates were deposited in the proximal areas (High and Imbricated Zones) while the cherts and
ophioliteswere derived from the Thrust Zone and deposited as mixedsediments in the distal areas. The sediment area
transported from source areas to the side of deposition by river.
It was possible that these rivers are suffered from one of two processes, the first is natural damming by mass
wasting (large slides and debris flows) the second is oxbowcutoff of meandering river. The developed fresh water
lake was site of deposition of detrital and stromatolitic limestone on the previous coarse clastics. The lateral gradation
to pebbly limestone and then to ortho- conglomerate is the evidence to its deposition in fluviatile environment
(Fig.5C). In theslides, desiccation cracks (Fig.11 left), bioturbated and highly amalgamation limestone (Fig.12), can
be seen which denote deposition in variable flow regime and terrestrial environments.
The accurate age determination of the limestone inside Upper Bakhtiari Formation is difficult. As
mentioned before, marlstone occurs with the southern limestone from which three samples are taken and send to
England for age determination. Only one sample was contained index fossils and it gave the age of Middle Miocene
to LateMiocene (Fig.10).

Fig.(10)The nannofossils in the green marl that is associated with limestone beds in the southern area (near

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First record of bedded limestone inside Upper BakhtiariFormation, Sulaimani Governorate, Kurdistan

Fig.(11) Left) cracks in detrital limestone which may be formed by desiccation, Right) vugyand pisoidal limestone
of southern limestone

Fig.(12) A)Vugs and bioturbationclasts (dark pieces near the finger) in malgamated limestone beds in the southern
limestone. B) Iron rich laminae
VI. Conclusion
1-The limestone beds are found in two different localities inside Upper Bakhtiari for the first times.
2-The limestone bed are consist of massive to crudely laminated layers that are composed of detrital or stromatolitic
or oolitic beds.
3-They derived from limestone source areas during Upper Miocene and Pliocene
4-They are deposited in fresh water (Fluviatile) environment of unstable and high energy condition.
5- The paleogeography of the Upper MiocenePliocene was of different contrast topography of high mountain, low
land with dominate of fluvial and fresh water lakes deposits.



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