Carbonate Platform Development in an Intraoceanic Arc Setting: Costa Rica’s Largest Limestone Sequence - The Fila de Cal Formation (Middle Eocene to Lower Oligocene)
The limestones of the Fila de Cal Formation build the largest carbonate platform sequence of Costa Rica extending over 180 km from southern Costa Rica into the Panamanian boarder area of David. The detailed limestone microfacies analysis and micropaleontologic dating based on the contained larger foraminiferal assemblages of 22 samples selected from the most representative exposures reveal three main carbonate facies: (1) Eoannularia eocenica-bearing spiculite facies from the Middle Eocene, (2) large lepidocyclinid-nummilitid facies from the Upper Eocene lead by the Lepidocyclina chaperi-Lepidocyclina tobleri panamensis assemblage and (3) dominant Lower Oligocene Lepidocyclina yurnagunensis-Lepidocyclina undosa assemblage. These three biostratigraphically successive facies record circa 14 to 19 m.y. of continuous shallow-marine carbonate sedimentation in the Pacific frontal arc region of southern Costa Rica. During this time large communities of benthic organisms: larger foraminifera, calcareous algae, corals, bryozoans, mollusks and equinoderms rapidly grew in warm tropical waters to build the largest and long-lasting carbonate platform on the Costa Rican arc. The carbonate sedimentation ended abruptly with accumulation of thick volcaniclastic marine platform-to-slope deposits of the Térraba Formation. Tectonically, the Fila de Cal carbonate platform development coincides with rapid convergence rates of the Farallón plate beneath southern Central America leading to strong arc uplift and new widespread neritic environments. The correlation with contemporaneous carbonate arc sequences clearly indicates that primarily their proximity to the inner volcanic arc areas and strong subsidence in response to emerging volcanic edifices are probably the main factors that controlled growing and persistence of carbonate environments within the arc setting.