Integrated multi-proxy source-to-sink analysis of Late Barremian (Lower Cretaceous) clastic systems in the Essaouira-Agadir Basin

Emmanuel Roquette, James Lovell-Kennedy, Leonardo Muniz Pichel, Stefan Schröder, Rémi Charton, Ian Millar, Camille Frau, Jonathan Redfern

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This study investigates the provenance of the continental and marine Late Barremian clastics of the Bouzergoun Formation, exposed in the Essaouira-Agadir Basin (EAB). Thin section petrography, Scanning Electron Microg- raphy, heavy minerals analysis, and detrital zircon dating were conducted and integrated with a large dataset of published Low-Temperature Thermochronology (LTT) studies to reconstruct the associated source-to-sink system (s). The results constrain the source and size of the system, and composition of deposited clastics, and investigate the mechanism for delivery of coarse clastics into the offshore domain, a key target for hydrocarbon exploration.
The homogeneity of rock composition fingerprints throughout the basin indicates a common provenance for both the northern and southern studied transects. Hinterland analysis based on LTT data identifies the Western Meseta and Massif Ancien de Marrakech (MAM) regions as the only possible source candidates exhuming during the Late Barremian, confirmed by detrital zircon geochronology. Heavy mineral populations reveal partly recycled sediment including a probable igneous source. Rock fragment populations comprise limestones, sand- stones, and volcanic composition, which correlate with lithologies of the MAM.
The integration of all data suggests a best-fit model for the Late Barremian of a source-to-sink system of moderate size (200–300 km long), dominantly sourced from the MAM (western High Atlas). This provided a sand-rich mix of sediment resulting from the erosion of exhuming Triassic continental basins, with associated clays from the weathering of basalts and Triassic/Jurassic mudstones.
Late Barremian eustatic sea level fall, together with regional uplift in the hinterland, is interpreted to have resulted in a forced regression that allowed the system to prograde towards the slope margin, offering enhanced potential for sand delivery into the deep offshore domain. Seismic imaging offshore provides tentative inter- pretation of synchronous high reflectivity deepwater channels located in structural lows controlled by diapiric salt movement.
The Mesetian domain was likely undergoing denudation at the same time and shedding clastic-rich sediments to the northern part of the EAB, beyond the studied region. Sediment supply from the MAM may be mixed with the Mesetian sands to the northern part of the EAB and tentatively in the offshore Essaouira.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105205
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Early online date4 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Barremian
  • Bouzergoun formation
  • Detrital zircon geochronology
  • Essaouira agadir basin
  • Hinterland evolution
  • Low-temperature thermochronology
  • Lower cretaceous
  • Morocco
  • Paleogeology modelling
  • Provenance
  • Provenance analysis
  • Source-to-sink


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