Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 2014, 2, 86-91
Published Online June 2014 in SciRes.
How to cite this paper: Likhacheva, O. Yu. (2014). Diatoms from Middle Miocene Continental Deposits of Primorye. Journal
of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 2, 86-91.
Diatoms from Middle Miocene Continental
Deposits of Primorye
Olesya Yu. Likhacheva
Far East Geological Institute Far Eastern Branch Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, Russia
Email: olesyalikh@gma
Received April 2014
Diatoms from Middle Miocene deposits of Khanka Lake’s northwestern shore (Primorye) were
studied using light and scanning microscopes. The analyses of diatom flora composition and spe-
cies diversity showed that there was a dominace of several taxa that made possible the recogni-
tion of two diatom complexes. The lower complex differs from the upper one by higher species
diversity, by presence of many subtropical diatoms and absence of pronounced dominant species.
Differences between the complexes can be explained by the progressing climatic cooling and pre-
dominance of fluvial-lakustrine sedimentation over the typically lake one due to development of a
wide system of river valleys.
Miocene, Diatoms, Stratigraphy, Paleoclimate
1. Introduction
Diatom unicellular algae with external siliceous frustules are widely used in biostratigraphy and paleoclimatic
reconstructions due to their sensitivity to environmental changes (Jousé, 1962; Douglas, Smoll, 1999; Pushkar,
Cherepanova, 2001; Pushkar et al., 2013). Not only ecological structure of diatom paleocenosis and number of
valves found in sediments, but also morphological features of phenotypes can at the same time be considered as
a reaction of taxa on variations in living conditions (Cherepanova et al., 2010).
The Middle Miocene diatoms-containing continental deposits are wide spread on the territory of the Russian
Federation. They have been studied in areas of the Russia’s east geographically close to Primorye: West Siberia
Lowland, near Lake Baikal, Transbaikalia and in the south of Far East Region (Glezer et al., 1974). The most
thoroughly investigated are diatoms from sedimentary rocks of the Vitim Plateau; here, Middle Miocene diatom
complex with dominating Aulacoseira Thwaites and Tetracyclus Ralfs has been recognized (Rasskazov, 2007).
Diatoms from the coeval deposits of Tunkinskaya basin were studied by Cheremisinova (1973). Among multi-
plicity of species found there, there were determined genera Aulacoseira and Coscinodiscus Ehrenberg. Lik-
hoshvay E.V. later carried out additional researches of diatoms from these deposits and has specified species
which were belonged to several taxa (Likhoshway et al., 1997).
The objective of the present study was diatom flora from sedimentary strata of the Khanka depression (Pri-
morye) which evolution was going in changing climate environments of the Middle Miocene.
O. Yu. Likhacheva
2. Materials and Methods
Material for studying represented 35 samples selected personally by the author from the Middle Miocene sedi-
mentary rocks of erosion scarp on the Khanka Lake’s western shore among settlements Turiy Rog and Novo-
kachalinsk (Figure 1), as well as samples which were kindly given by Prof. V.S. Pushkar. All of them are rich in
the well-preserved diatom flora.
The sedimentary rocks of the erosion scarp are composed of gravel, sandstone, thin-laminated tuffaceous silt-
stone and diatomite; they occur among underlying coal-bearing beds of Upper Oligocene age and the overlap-
ping Upper Pliocene clays.
The suggestion to reckon this new stratigraphic unit to the Miocene sedimentary complex was given by B.I.
Pavlyutkin (Pavlyutkin et al., 2004) based on the integrated study of sufficiently thick band of sediments (more
than 200 m) which were naturally outcropped on the Khanka Lake’s western shore. Stratigraphic thickness of
the strata is presented by the well-exposed suite of the same name. At the present time stratigraphic position of
the studied strata remains a subject of discussion between geologists and paleobotanists. According to Decisions
of the 4-th Interdepartmental stratigraphy meeting (The resolution…, 1994), this rock unit has been referred to
the Bikinsky stratigraphic unit rather than to the Tavrichansky or Prikhankaisky horizons.
Within the stratum, three types of rocks are distinguished: pebbles in a sandy clay matrix, composed weath-
ered rock and thin-layer tuffaleurolite with rare pebbles. Rock layers are gently bended (up to 2º) to the south
and southeast. They are underlain, with an uncertain contact, by the poorly carboniferous deposits of the Upper
Oligocene and are overlapped by red clays of the Upper Pliocene.
Technical processing of samples and their preparation for analyzing under a light microscope was in accor-
dance to a generally accepted procedure (Glezer et al., 1974). If there was a lack of diatom valves in sedi- ments,
the samples were exposed to heavy cadmium liquid treatment (density2.6).
Taxonomic analysis of diatom flora, investigation of ecological structure of paleocenosis, measuring of di-
ameter and height of bending valves have been conducted with the help of Axio Lab.A1 and Axioskop 40 Carl
Zeiss light microscopes, at magnification x 2000, and with the use of immersion liquid. Fine structure of diatom
shells was analyzed using the Carl Zeiss EVO 40 scanning microscope (magnification, up to x 15000) owned by
Institute of Soil Biology FEB RAS.
The author uses here a classification of diatoms accepted by Russian diatomologists (Glezer et al., 1992),
considering revision made for a number of species and genera (Kuzmin et al., 2009; Krammer, 1991; Krammer,
Lange-Bertalot, 1991; Khursevich, 1994; Williams, 1989, 1996).
3. Results and Discussion
The analysis of taxonomic composition of flora, its species diversity and a dominance of several taxa allows dis-
tinguishing two diatom complexes within the Novokachalinskaya suite (Figure 1).
The lower diatom complex is confined to the bottom and middle parts of the sequence (points 9146-9149) and
is characterized by relatively high diversity: 75 species that belong to 41 genera, lack of pronounced domination
of any kind of species except two: Aulacoseira praegranulata (Jousé) Simonsen var. praegranulata f. prae-
granulata (Figure 2(K)) and A. praegranulata var. praeislandica f. praeislandica (Simonsen) Moisseeva (Fig-
ure 2(M)), which form tuffaceous diatomite layers.
This complex has been first described by V.S. Pushkar and M.V. Cherepanova (Pavlyutkin et al., 2004). Re-
peated sampling and redefining of species diversity has given clearer view of stratigraphic occurrence of dia-
toms in the sequence. It concerned first of all the matter of distribution of curvata forms of ancient Aulacoseira.
In the Novokachalinsky complex, this form is represented by A. praegranulata var. prae islandica f. curvata
(Jousé) Moisseeva (A. praegranulata var. praegranulata f. curvata (Jousé) Simonsen (Figure 2(N))—to a lesser
extent) and by A. italica var. italica f. curvata (Pant.) Dav. which are first appeared in this stratigraphic interval.
Secondly, new species of genus Actinocyclus Ehrenberg (Figure 2(G)) and may be first Mesodictyon Theriot
et Bradbury (Figure 2(L)) are distinguished here. Mesodictyon were earlier referred to a genus Coscinodiscus
(Jousé, 1952; Moisseeva, 1971) and later to Pontodiscus Temniskova-Topalova et Sheshukova-Poretzkaya
(Temniskova-Topalova et al., 1981; Moisseeva, 1995) and were considered as typical representatives of late
Miocene and Pliocene only.
Characteristic complex of diatoms from the lower layers of stratigraphic sequence of Novokachalinskaya suite
is represented by: Actinella brasiliensis Grunow (Figure 2(C)), Aulacoseira praegranulata var. praegranulata f.
O. Yu. Likhacheva
Figure 1. The stratotype of Novokachalinskaya suite (by Pav-
lutkin et al., 2004) with this paper author’s modifying: 9145-
9151, L03/1-L03/3, L04/1—location of the sampling points; C-I
lower complex, C-II—upper complex.
praegranulata, A. praegranulata var. praeislandica f. praeislandica, Ellerbeckia arenaria var. teres (Brun) R.M.
Crawford (Figure 2(H)-(J)), Fragilariforma bicapitata (Mayer) D.M.Williams et Round (Figure 2(A)), Fragi-
laria miocenica Jousé var. miocenica (Figure 2(B)), Gomphonema miocenica Moiss., Melosira undulata (Ehr.)
Kütz. var. undulate (Figure 2(D)), Miosira jouseana (Moisseva) Krammer, Lange-Bert. et Schiller (Figure
2(O)), M. areolata (Moisseva) Khurs., Staurosira construens Ehrenb. (Figure 2(E)), S. venter (Ehrenb.) Koba-
yasi (Figure 2(F)), S. elliptica (Schumann) D.M.Williams et Round, Tetracyclus glans (Ehrenb.) Mills). Age
data obtained for this complex range in the interval of 18.1 14.9 Ma (Pavlyutkin et al., 1993, 2004).
The analysis of ecological structure of the complex suggests a conclusion about sublittoral environment of its
formation in a sufficiently warm running-water pond.
The upper diatom complex (points 9150, 9151, L03/1-L03/3, L04/1) differs from the lower one by the ab-
sence of many subtropical species (Actinella brasiliensis, Cymbella australica (A.Schmidt) Cleve, Desmogo-
nium guianense Ehrenb., D. rabenhorstianum Grunow) and the growth of diversity and frequency of bottom-
living diatoms, especially genera Tetracyclus (Figure 3(C), (F)-(H)), Staurosira Ehrenberg, Planothidium
Round et. L.Bukhtiyarova which are typical rheophil forms. Among Tetracyclus flora, there is a predominance
of Tetracyclus clypeus (Ehr.) Li Jia-Ying (Figure 3(D), (E)) (up to 62% - 70%). Another feature of the upper
complex is that planktonic Miosira jouseana is missed out here, whereas M. areolata (Figure 3(A)) is abundant
(frequency up to 4). In fact, this interval of sediments can be considered an acme-zone for Miosira areolata.
Dominant role belongs to planktonic species Aulacoseira praegranulata (Jouse) Moiss. and Melosira undulata
(Ehr.) Kuetz.
Compared to the lower complex, the upper one has got poor species diversity, indistinct morphological
boundaries within polymorphic species belonging to genera Aulacoseira, Melosira C. Agardh, Tetracyclus, and
a pronounced dominant species. All this is an evidence of more stable conditions for diatom living.
The both complexes are characterized by high polymorphism among Tetracyclus, which is rare for sedimen-
O. Yu. Likhacheva
Figure 2. Some representatives of the lower diatom complex. (A) External view of Fragilari-
forma bicapitata, SEM (scanning election microscope). (B) External view of Fragilaria mio-
cenica var. miocenica, LM (light microscope) × 1000. (C) External view of Actinella brasi-
liensis, LM × 1000. (D) External view of Melosira undulata var. undulate, LM. (E) External
view of Staurosira construens, SEM. (F) External view of Staurosira venter, SEM. (G) Inter-
nal view of Actinocyclus gorbunovii: a valve with a several labiate processes, SEM. (H) Eller-
beckia arenaria f. terresa valve mantle with a cingulum, SEM. (I) Ellerbeckia arenaria f.
terresinternal surface with a ring of tubulate processes, SEM. (J) External view of Eller-
beckia arenaria f. terres, LM. (K) Aulacoseira praegranulata var. praegranulata f. prae-
granulataa valve mantle, SEM. (L) External view of Mesodictyon fovis, SEM. (M) Aulaco-
seira praegranulata var. praeislandica f. praeislandicaa valve mantle, SEM. (N) Aulaco-
seira praegranulata var. praeislandica f. curvataa valve mantle, SEM. (O) External view of
Miosira jouseana, SEM.
Figure 3. Some representatives of the upper diatom complex. (A) External view of Miosira
areolata, SEM. (B) Aulacoseira taiganosicaa valve mantle, SEM. (C) External view of
Tetracyclus ellipticus var. lancea, LM. (D) Internal surface of Tetracyclus clypeus, SEM. (E)
Internal surface of Tetracyclus clypeus, LM. (F) External view of Tetracyclus lacustris var.
lacustris, LM × 1000. (G) Tetracyclus sp., LM. (H) External view of Tetracyclus excentricum,
O. Yu. Likhacheva
tary rocks of other age in Primorye, and by presence of only here found Aulacoseira taiganosica (Figure 3(B))
Lupikina et Ozorn., that can be considered as an important reference feature for these deposits.
From the position of paleogeography, a contrast between two complexes can be explained by the progressing
fall of temperature and predominance of fluvial-lakustrine sedimentation over the typically lake one due to de-
velopment of a wide system of river valleys. The low degree of absolute dominance under sufficient species di-
versity and high uniformity level is a marker of fast changing in environmental conditions. It is possible that at
this time span the winter monsoon starts prevailing under the summer one that affected the nature of lake basins
The author thanks two researches from Far East Geological Institute FEB RAS: Prof. Pushkar V.S. for his ideas
during implementation of this study and Prof. Pavlyutkin B.I. for his help in the organization of field works and
consultations about regional stratigraphy. Many thanks go also to Dr. Cherepanova M.V. from Institute of Soil
Biology FEB RAS for her invaluable assistance in identifying of diatoms valves, consultation on scanning mi-
croscopy and in the area of taxonomic analysis.
This work was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) grant №14-05-31195 and Far
Eastern Branch Russian Academy of Sciences (FEB RAS) grant №14-III-В-08-180.
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