International Journal of Geosciences, 2012, 3, 195-205 Published Online February 2012 (
Palynomorphs and Oribatid Mites—From the Denwa
Formation, Satpura Basin, Madhya Pradesh, India
Vijaya, Srikanta Murthy
Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, India
Received June 22, 2011; revised September 7, 2011; accepted November 15, 2011
Palynological investigation of the Denwa Formation exposed along Denwa river succession at Saptadara picnic point
near village Jhirpa, Satpura Basin, Madhya Pradesh, has revealed the presence of spore-pollen, fungal remains and
Oribatid mites. Here, the mites are on record for the first time. Presence of fungal remains strongly depicts the preva-
lence of a very humid climate with high temperature and rainfall in the region. Poor occurrence of spore-pollen restricts
the age determination of the studied section; hence, its age assessment is relative. Thus, an over-view of spore-pollen
along with dinocysts and insects reported earlier from the subsurface strata comprising Denwa Formation, from other
two localities in the nearby area of village Anhoni, is dealt herein, and that had inferred an age—range from Carnian to
Rhaetic for the palynoflora and fauna.
Keywords: Spore-Pollen; Fungal Remains; Oribatid Mites; Denwa Formation; Upper Triassic
1. Introduction
Satpura Basin is the western most Gondwana Basin among
Gondwana basins in India that covers an area of 12,000
sq km (Figure 1). It is rhomb-shaped and elongated in
ENE-WSW direction. The basin is situated in between
Son-Narmada south fault in the North and Tan-shear in
the South. The Gondwana sequence in this basin starts
from Early Permian (Talchir Formation) to Lower Cre-
taceous (Jabalpur Formation). The Precambrian rocks be-
longing to Sausar Group occur as the basement of the
Satpura Basin. The Denwa Formation occupies the mid-
dle unit of the Mahadeva Group in the Satpura Basin,
Madhya Pradesh [1]. It is overlaid by Bagra conglomer-
ate and underlain by the Pachmarhi Formation. The Denwa
beds are charecterised by red mudstones and subordinate
yellow sandstones and are named by [1] to north of
Pachmarhi plateau, Madhya Pradesh.
The palynological studies had already been done in the
Permian and Triassic successions in scattered areas in the
Satpura Basin [2-7]. Moreover, data including the paly-
nomorphs, dinocysts and insect remains from the sub-
surface is on record only from Denwa Formation, Upper
Triassic [8,9].
Nandi [10] was pioneer worker studied palynologi-
cally from the subsurface carbonaceous sediments (bore-
core ANH-1) at Anhoni village and that is dated Carnian
to Norian in age. Lately, the spore-pollen dinocysts and
insects, have also been reported from the sediments ex-
posed in an artesian well, south of Anhoni village, and
that had suggested Norian to Rhaetian age [8,9,11].
Fossil fungal remains in the studied sedimentary de-
posits provide significant proxy records for palaeoenvi-
ronmental reconstruction, along with spores-pollen and
megafloral remains. However, the utility of fungal remains/
spores in palynostratigraphy of the deposits is rather un-
certain, as most of the fungal spore exhibits a wider dis-
tribution in the geological time that is from Precambrian
to Recent [6,12].
Present investigation in the exposed section along Denwa
River succession in study area (Figure 1) has provided
additional information about the fungal remains, and
fossil remains of a different kind of organism that is
Oribatid mites. Although, the mites in fossil records are
from middle Lower Devonian deposits [13-16], but there
is a “hiatus” until the mites began to formally described
in the mid Mesozoic.
2. Geology of the Area
In the study area (Figure 1), the beds charecterised by
red mudstones and sub-ordinate yellow sandstones in the
Denwa River, are named Denwa Formation [1], that is in
the north of Pachmarhi plateau, Madhya Pradesh. The
Denwa Formation is middle unit of Mahadeva Group; it
is overlain by the Pachmari Formation and underlain by
the Bagra Formation (Table 1). Denwa Formation com-
prises mainly alternating beds of sandstone and varie-
opyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
Figure 1. The geological map of Satpura Basin (in Nandi 1996, p. 80) showing three locations of samples—present study (),
Nandi 1994 (), and Kumar 2000 ().
Table 1. Generalised lithostratigraphy in the Satpura Basin, Madhya Pradesh.
Age Formation Lithology
Lower Cretaceous Bagra Conglomerate, pebbly sandstone, red mudstone, abundant calcareous nodules
Upper part of Lower
Triassic to middle Triassic Denwa Soft variegated clays interbeded with sandstone bands, conglomerate at place
Lower Triassic Pachmarhi Very coarse sandstone with minor grey/red mudstone. multi-storey sandstone with
large compound bed forms
gated clays which are always calcarious and contain nu-
merous calcarious nodules. And, this display a wide range
of colours between green red and buff, the red being most
characteristic [17-19] and [20]. Therefore, it is believed
that the Pachmarhi, Denwa and Bagra formations grade
into one-another laterally due to facies variation.
The Denwa Formation consists of three successive
lithological units. The basal unit occurring just above the
Pachmarhi Formation is sand dominated and poorly fos-
siliferous. The middle unit, consisting of violet mudstone
alternating with white to greenish calcareous, fine to me-
dium grained sandstone, has proved fossiliferous. The
upper part comprises brick red mudstone, subordinate white
sandstone and peloidal calcirudite [21].
3. Material and Methods
The rock samples for present study have been collected
from Denwa river bank, Saptadara picnic point (22˚354
N/78˚3015.1E) near village Jhirpa (Figure 1). The seven-
teen samples comprised of buff-half white shale, purple
claystone, siltstone, khaki-green claystone and arena-
ceous sandstones facies (Figure 2). From these rock sam-
ples, only twelve samples have proved productive in the
spore-pollen, fungal remains and Oribatid mites (Table 2).
The rock samples are processed by standard macera-
tion technique, that is 50 gms of sediments crushed, were
first treated with 40% Hydrofluoric acid for 3 - 4 days (to
remove silica material), and then followed by Nitric acid
for 5 days (digestion of humic matter). Further to this,
treated with 10% potassium hydroxide to release the hu-
mus. The maceral, were then mounted in polyvinyl alco-
hol and Canada balsam for each sample and five slides
were prepared. Microscopic observation (Olympus BX61
model) is done from each sample (Table 2) at species
level for microfloral analysis, and the species identified
are listed in Table 3.
4. Observations
Among the Seventeen samples (Table 2), spores and pol-
len are recovered in samples SPD-3, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 12;
but these are less in numbers. The productive residues con-
tain an abundance of fungal remains in samples SPD—1,
2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. Besides, Oribatid mites
are recovered only in two samples SPD—8 and 12. Other
remaining elements include wood tissues and root hairs in
samples SPD—2, 3, 15 and 17. Most of these elements are
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Table 2. Yield of spore-pollen, fungal remains, and oribatid mites from river section, Denwa formation near Saptadara picnic
point, Satpura Basin.
Sample No Lithology Remarks
SPD-1 Buff half white shale Palynomorphs absent, Fungal remains rare
SPD-2 Arenaceous sandstone Fungal remains fair. Woody tissues present
SPD-3 Arenaceous sandstone Fungal remains rich, Palynomorphs rare, Wood tissues present
SPD-4 Arenaceous sandstone Fungal remains rare, palynomorphs rare,
SPD-5 Arenaceous sandstone Unproductive
SPD-6 Purple clay stone Unproductive
SPD-7 Purple clay stone Unproductive
SPD-8 Purple clay stone Palynomorphs rich, Fungal remains rich and Oribatid mites rare
SPD-9 Purple clay stone Unproductive
SPD-10 Purple clay stone Palynomorphs rare, Fungal remains rich
SPD-11 Siltstone Fungal remains rare, Palynomorphs rare
SPD-12 Siltstone Fungal remains rich, Oribatid mites rich, Palynomorphs rare
SPD-13 Siltstone Fungal remains medium
SPD-14 Purple clay stone Fungal remains rare
SPD-15 Siltstone Wood tissues
SPD-16 Purple-reddish clay stone Unproductive
SPD-17 Purple-reddish clay stone Wood tissues and root hairs
Table 3. Occurrences of spore-pollen species taxa in the adjacent localities of village Anhoni and Jhirpa in Satpura Basin.
Palynotaxa Out-crop (Present study) Well-section (Kumar 2000) B.H. ANH-1 (Nandi 1994)
Haradisporites mineri + +
Haradisporites scabratus +
Osmundacidites sp. + +
Dictyophyllidites mortonii + +
Monolites anhoniensis +
Alisporites indicus + + +
Brachysaccus ovalis + +
Brachysaccus indicus +
Falcisporites australis +
Falcisporites nidpurensis
Falcisporites stabilis + +
Krempipollenites indicus + +
Minutosaccus crenulatus + + +
Minutosaccus maedleri
Samaropollenites speciosus + + +
Satsangisaccites triassicus + +
Satsangisaccites royii + +
Scheuringipollenites tentulus + +
Staurosaccites minutus + +
Arcuatipollenites ovatus +
Arcuatipollenites pellucidus +
Callialasporites sp. +
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Cycadopites cf stonei +
Corollina cf. simplex +
Laricoidites sp +
Aratrisporites fischeri + +
Rimaesporites potoniei +
Denwasporites + +
Convertubisporites +
Cyclogranisporites +
Cyathidites +
Verrucosisporites kazigaonensis +
Podocarpidites + +
Vitreisporites savitrii +
Ashmoripollis reducta +
Chordasporites sp. + + +
Infernopollenites + +
Nidipollenites monoletus +
Uvaesporites +
Camerosporites + +
Tethysispora +
Dictyotriletes +
Lundbladispora +
Densoisporites +
Convolutispora + +
Foraminisporis +
Converrucosisporites +
Guttatisporites +
Playfordiaspora +
Polycingulatisporites +
Lapposisporites +
Accinctisporites +
Nidipollenites +
Lueckisporites +
Podocarpidites + +
Sahnites punchetensis + +
Todisporites +
Leschikisporis +
Oribatid Mites +++
Dinoflagillate cysts +++
Fungal remains + +
Guttulapollenites hann oni cus +
Faunipollenites varius +
Striatopodocarpites dubrajpurensis +
Striatites cancellatus +
Protohaploxypinus sp. + +
Striatopodocarpites + +
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Table 4. List of Fungal spores recovered from present study.
1 Alternaria
2 Tetraploa
3 Curvularia
4 Nigrospora
5 Helminthosporium
6 Glomus
7 Entophlyctis
8 Microthyrium
9 cf. Microthyrites
10 Fungal hyphae
11 Fungal fruiting body
dicus, Satsangisaccites nidpurensis, Falcisporites stab ilis,
Minutosaccus maedleri, and Nidipollenites monoletus.
Trilete spores are few, represented by Convertubisporites
variabilis, Cyclogranisporites sp., Denwasporites anhonii,
Haradisporites sinuosus and Aratrisporites fischeri
(Figure 3).
4.2. Fungal Remains
The fungal remains are observed in high amount from the
buff coloured shales, arenaceous sandstones, purple clay-
stone and siltstones. The assemblage includes diverse fungal
spores—Alternaria, Tetraploa, Curvularia, Nigrospora,
Helminthosporium, Glomus, Entophlyctis , Microthyrium,
Cf. Microthyrites, etc. and fungal hyphae, etc. of un-
known affinities (Figure 4).
4.3. Oribatid Mites
Microscopic, elongated, oval, compact, dorso-ventraly,
flattened fossil specimens (Figure 4, No. a-d) of Oribatid
and Mesostigmatid mites have also been recovered from
the claystone. The fossilized mites belong to Kingdom-
Animalia, Phylum-Arthropoda, Class-Arachnida, Order-
Sarcoptiformes, Family-Oribatidae [6]. These hard bodied
mites with well preserved seletotized skeleton and dark
reddish brown in colour are known as beetle mites. The
specimens measure 35.4 - 51.3 mµ in length and 17.5 -
23.3 mµ in width. Their body with two segments is or-
ganised into two tagmata—the one Prosoma, cephalo-
thorax (unsegmented) which is fused head and thorax.
The other part is opisthosoma (idiosoma), abdomen that
is also unsegmented (Figure 4, a-d). The highly sele-
totized body suggest that these fossil specimens had pro-
bably lived on tree bark.
Figure 2. Lithological column along with the sample details.
The productive samples are marked with symbols. * = only
spore-pollen; = Fungal remains; = Oribatid
Mites; = woody matter.
vaguely structured, not identifiable and the preservation
of specimens makes specific determinations difficult. The
spore-pollen and fungal taxa identified are given in Ta-
bles 3, 4; and illustrated in Figures 3, 4.
4.1. Spore-Pollen
In the facies comprising arenaceous sandstones, clay-
stones and siltstones, the spore-pollen are very poor. The
assemblage contains non-striate bisaccate pollen Sama-
ropollenites speciosus, Brachysaccus indicus, Scheur-
ingipollenites sp., Alisporites opii, Krempipollenites in-
5. Discussions
Based on a small number of identified spore-pollen taxa
in the presently studied section (Figure 5, Table 2), their
Figure 3. Spore-pollen identified from Denwa River section near village Jhirpa in Denwa Formation (All figures × 500 ca): (a)
Convertubisporites variabillis Kumaran and Maheshwari 1980; (b) Cyclogranisporites sp.; (c) Denwasporites anhonii Kumar
1999; (d) Haradisporites sinuosus Kumar 1973; (e) Samaropollenites speciosus Goubin 1965; (f) Brachysaccus indicus Kuma-
ran and Maheshwari 1980; (g) Brachysaccus indicus Kumaran and Maheshwari 1980; (h) Krempipollenites indicus Tiwari
and Vijaya 1995; (i) Scheuringipollenites sp.; (j) Nidipollenites monoletus Bharadwaj and Tiwari 1969; (k) Chordasporites
austrauliensis de Jersey 1962; (l) Satsangisaccites nidpurensis Bharadwaj and Srivastava 1962; (m) Satsangipollenites sp.; (n)
Satsangipollenites nidpurensis Bharadwaj and Srivastava 1962; (o) Falcipollenites strabilis Balme 1970; (p) Alisporites opii
Daugherty 1971; (q) Minutosaccus maedleri Kumaran and Maheshwari 1970.
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Figure 4. All figures × 500 ca (a)-(d) Oribatid Mites; (e) cf. Microthyrites; (f) Microthyrium; (g) Alternaria; (h) Curvularia; (i)
Helminthsporium; (j) Ascospore; (k) Nigrospora; (l) Fungal fruiting body type-I (cf. Cleistothecium); (m) Fungal body type-II;
(n) Fungal body type-III; (o) Glomus; (p) Fungal fruiting body with spore type-IV; (q) Fugal mycellium; (r) Hype with Chla-
mydospore (s) and (t) Wood tissues (u) Root hairs; identified from Denwa River section near village Jhirpa in Denwa Forma-
tion, Satpura Basin.
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Figure 5. Relative occurrence of spore-pollen taxa in pro-
ductive samples in the present studied section in Saptadara
picnic point near village Jhirpa, Satpura Basin.
Figure 6. Relative placement of palynoassemblage identified
in the present section with those on record from the two
adjoining areas near village Anhoni, Satpura Basin. Occur-
rence of Callialasporites in the assemblage-II infers an
younger age to the strata in well-cutting (Kumar, P. 2000).
paucity and poor preservation, do not allow the precise
dating. The age assessment of the studied section is rela-
tive as compared with the palynological data available
from the other two localities in the nearby areas of vil-
lage Anhoni (Figure 1, [10,11]). For comparison, a rela-
tive count about the spore-pollen taxa and their species
from the other two localities has been given in Table 3
and Figure 6.
in [20], p. 96; [7], pp. 15-16 and [22], pp. 97-98. But, the
present assemblage in having paucity of the spore-pollen
taxa can only be placed within broader time-span of the
Late Triassic that had already been determined previously
for Denwa Formation (Figure 7). Furthermore, the
placement of these assemblages has been assessed with
those known from Upper Triassic successions in India
and Australia (Figure 8).
A rich spore-pollen assemblage is reported from bore-
core ANH-1 (650.00 m deep, drilled in the south of vil-
lage Anhoni). Here, the quantitative and qualitative as-
sessment of the palynoassemblage zones I and II, show
an abundance of non-striate bisaccate pollen. Moreover,
the presence of key-taxa—Polycingulatisporites, Uvae-
sporites, Camerosporites, Convolutispora, Foraminisporis,
Aratrisporites along with Infernopollen ites, Staurosac-
cites, and Brachysaccus had suggested Carnian to Norian
age for the studied strata [20]; p. 79. However, the pre-
sent assemblage is not so diversified. Henceforth, very
limited possibility of comparison exists with the two pa-
lynoassemblages that is from borehole ANH-1 and the
present one as is evident from Table 3 and Figure 6.
In the Satpura Gondwana Basin, sediments comprised
a series of lakes in fluviatile complex which were never
very deep [17]. Denwa clays vary in colours from that
green, red, mottled red, white and buff, but the red ones
are most chereterstic [17,23].
The strata representing the Denwa Formation in the
nearby villages Jhirpa and Anhoni, including the three
locations (Figure 1), has an estimated thickness of about
650.00 m. And it is divided into many units of lithofacies-
purple red clays, claystone pebbly and arenaceous sand-
stone, and carbonaceous buff shales; that are deposited in
a variety of environments. The spore-pollen occurs mainly
in carbonaceous shales, khaki-green clay, and purple-red
claystone. But their recovery has happened relatively
very less from that in carbonaceous facies to purple-red
facies (present study). That evidences the impact of de-
positional set-up on the quantitative presentation as well
as on their state of preservation.
Moreover, the palynoassemblages known from an ar-
tisian well-section near Anhoni village [10], contain an
abundance of non-striate along with striate bisaccate pol-
len. While these taxa are very low in counts in the present
assemblage (Table 3). Apart from this, dominance of
dinocysts had also been reported in the well-section [8],
which are lacking in the present assemblage. Therefore,
similarity between the two assemblages might be drawn
only in the broader aspect (Table 3, Figure 6). Ten out of seventeen samples investigated from
Denwa river section, Satpura Basin, Madhya Pradesh, have
shown a good assemblage of diverse fungal remains com-
Besides this, there are many other palynoassemblages
on record from the Upper Triassic horizons as discussed
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Figure 7. Relative occurrences of spore-pollen, fungal remains, Oribatid Mites and woody matter are displayed in the pro-
ductive samples in the presently studied section, Saptadara picnic point near village Jhirpa, Satpura Basin.
Figure 8. Stratigraphic placement of the spore-pollen assemblage (present study) in the Late Triassic sequence in India and
prising nine identified genera viz. identified extant ge-
nera viz., Alternaria, Tetraploa, Curvularia, Nigrospora,
Helminthosporium, Torula, Glomus, Entophlyctis and
Microthyrium, one form genus cf. Microthyrites and 8
fungal remains in the forms of such as ascospores, fungal
spore type, hyphae, fungal fruiting body, etc. of unknown
The retrieval of parasitic fungi viz., Alternaria, Tetra-
lpoa, Nigrospora, Helminthsporium and Curvularia of
herbaceous plants suggests the presence of plenty of un-
dergrowth around the investigating site owing to the pre-
vailing damp and moist condition during the period of
sediment deposition. Further, the sediments seem to be
accumulated in a ponding environment as evidenced from
the record of aquatic saprophytic fungi Entophlyctis and
Glomus, which dwells frequently along the lake margin
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
and in the lakes. During the course of sedimentation, the
region might have supported thick forest cover as indi-
cated by the considerable encounter of epiphyllous fungi,
Microthyrium and cf. Microthyrites, which flourish well
presently on the tropical trees. Their presence also strongly
depicts the prevalence of a very humid climate with high
temperature and rainfall in the region since they require
such climatic conditions for their optimal proliferation
and dissemination [24].
An overview of the other associated elements (woods
and cuticles), which are present in the twelve samples
(Figure 7), reveals that sediment deposition in the study
area had the impact of high energy flow of the source
material. That had major effect on the preservation of
these elements. Furthermore, sediments in pockets had
yielded—fungal remains, dinoflagellate cysts, and varied
types of insects as well as Oribatid mites. Dinocyst as-
semblage had been reported from the well cutting sam-
ples [7], p. 12, which suggest lacustrine environment for
Denwa Formation deposits [8], p. 103.
The mites are generally considered as an ancient line-
age of chelicerate arthropods but their fossil records are
mixed [25]. Acarina or Acari is taxon of arachnids which
contains mites and sticks. The mites are truly ubiquitous
with unsegmented and non-pediculated abdomen. And
the mites also inhabit all kinds of habitat such as aquatic,
fresh water, sea water and terrestrial. Hence, no particu-
lar environment can be inferred from their presence in
the studied section [26].
6. Conclusions
From the palynomorphs, other associated plant remains
(non palynomorphs) and fossil Oribatid mites recovered
from the exposed section along Denwa River, Saptadara
picnic point, Denwa Formation, Satpura Basin, it is in-
1) Absence of the key taxa—Camerospor ites, Fo rami -
nisporis, Uvaesporites, Staurosaccites, in the presently
studied palynoassemblage do not allow the precise age
2) Moreover, a age—range between Carnian to Rhaetic
is connoted from previous palynological dating in the
nearby areas of village Anhoni [1,11].
3) Abundance of fungal spores and bodies depicts the
prevalence of moist and damp condition around the in-
vestigation site.
4) Very low presentation of spore-pollen and relatively
high counts of fungal remains might be due to fluctuation
in humidity, water logging and mode of sediment deposi-
5) Record of fossil Oribatid mites in the study area;
perhaps indicate a favourable palaeoenvironment for their
existence/survival during this particular time span.
7. Acknowledgements
Authors are thankful to Dr. N. C. Mehrotra, Director,
BSIP, Lucknow for providing working facilities as well
as for permission to publish this data.
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