Pre-Messinian Deposits of the Mediterranean Ridge: Biostratigraphic and Geochemical Evidence from the Olimpi Mud Volcano Field
This study presents the results derived from micropaleontological and organic geochemical analyses of mud breccia samples obtained (through gravity coring) from five mud volcanoes (Gelendzhik, Heraklion, Moscow, Milano, Leipzig) located at the Olimpi mud volcano field on the Mediterranean Ridge accretionary complex. A thorough calcareous nannofossil semi-quantitative analysis was performed to determine the biostratigraphic assignment of the deep-seated source strata. Mudstone/shale clasts of different stratigraphic levels were identified and assigned to the Miocene nannofossil biozones CNM10, CNM8–9, CNM7, CNM6–7, and Oligocene CNO4/CNO5. A single mudstone clast from the Gelendzhik plateau, assigned to the biozone CNM10, demonstrated unique micropaleontological and geochemical characteristics, suggesting a sapropelic origin. Subsequently, the total organic carbon (TOC) content and thermal maturity of the collected mud breccias was evaluated using the Rock-Eval pyrolysis technique, and their oil and gas potential was estimated. The pyrolyzed sediments were both organic rich and organic poor (TOC >0.5% or <0.5%, respectively), with their organic matter showing characteristics of the type III kerogen that consists of adequate hydrogen to be gas generative, but insufficient hydrogen to be oil prone. However, the organic matter of the late Serravallian (CNM10) sapropelic mudstone was found to consist of a mixed type II/III kerogen, implying an oil-prone source rock.