Araripe Basin

The Araripe Basin (Portuguese: Bacia do Araripe) is a rift basin covering about 8,000 square kilometres (3,100 sq mi),[1] in Ceará, Piauí and Pernambuco states of northeastern Brazil. It is bounded by the Patos and Pernambuco lineaments,[2] and is situated east of the Parnaíba Basin, southwest of the Rio do Peixe Basin and northwest of the Tucano and Jatobá Basins.[3]

Araripe Basin
Bacia do Araripe
Araripe Basin map - formations and resources.jpg
Geologic map of the Araripe Basin
Map showing the location of Araripe Basin
Map showing the location of Araripe Basin
Chapada do Araripe.svg
Outline of the Chapada do Araripe in the basin
Coordinates7°23′12″S 40°9′11″W / 7.38667°S 40.15306°W / -7.38667; -40.15306Coordinates: 7°23′12″S 40°9′11″W / 7.38667°S 40.15306°W / -7.38667; -40.15306
EtymologyChapada do Araripe
LocationSouth America
Country Brazil
State(s)Ceará, Pernambuco, Piauí
CitiesCrato, Ceará
BoundariesPatos & Pernambuco lineaments
Part ofBrazilian onshore basins
Area~8,000 km2 (3,100 sq mi)
Basin typeRift basin
PlateSouth American
OrogenyBreak-up of Gondwana
AgeMiddle Jurassic-Albian

The basin has provided a variety of unique fossils in the Crato and Santana Formations and includes the Araripe Geopark, a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks since 2006.[4] The pterosaurs Araripesaurus and Araripedactylus (now considered a nomen dubium), crocodylian Araripesuchus, the turtle Araripemys, amphibian Arariphrynus, the fish Araripelepidotes and the insect Araripenymphes were named after the basin. The bituminous shales of the Ipubi Formation in the Araripe Basin have potential for shale gas development.[5]

Basin historyEdit

Schematic development of the depositional environments of the Santana Group
Lake level cyclicity in the Santana Group

The tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Araripe Basin, located in the Borborema Geologic Province, encompasses four stages, with five tectonostratigraphic phases:[6]
1) Syneclise phase - Silurian to Devonian - characterized by tectonic quiescence in the Borborema Province. It is represented by the deposits of the Cariri Formation, that include medium to coarse-grained quartz sandstones, locally conglomeratic, deposited in large braided fluvial systems
2) Pre-rift phase - Tithonian - characterized by the mechanical subsidence due to lithosphere thinning that preceded the rift. It is represented by the Brejo Santo Formation, that comprises red shales and claystones, and the Missão Velha Formation, constituted by medium to coarse-grained quartz-feldspathic sandstones, locally conglomeratic, that contains entire trunks and fragments of silicified wood (Dadoxilon benderi) conifer
3) Rift phase - Berriasian to Hauterivian - characterized by increasing mechanical subsidence that created a system of grabens and half grabens. It is represented by the Abaiara Formation, that includes shales, siltstones, sandstones and conglomerates
4) Post-Rift I phase - Aptian to Albian - characterized by thermal subsidence. The lowermost unit Barbalha Formation, represents a fluviolacustrine phase and is composed of red and gray shales, siltstones and claystones.

The Santana Group was formed during this stage and comprises three stratigraphic units:

  • Crato Formation that is composed of six intervals of laminated limestones (C1 to C6), interbedded with calciferous siltstones and marls, and is very rich in fossils of vertebrate and invertebrate organisms
  • Ipubi Formation, that is mainly composed of organic-rich, black greenish bituminous shales, claystones and algal limestones that are interbedded with gypsum-anhydrite beds
  • Romualdo Formation, that represents a calciferous siliciclastic succession composed of fine to medium-grained sandstones, argillaceous siltstones, calciferous shales, and limestones, very rich in fossils. This formation recorded the marine proto-Atlantic incursion that involved the Araripe Basin, and other interior basins and created a large seaway throughout the Borborema Province during the Albian

5) Post-rift II phase - Albian to Cenomanian - characterized by a major sag phase, and is formed by two stratigraphic units:

  • Araripina Formation, that occurs in the western region of the basin and is composed by rhythmites and heterolithic layers of reddish, purplish and yellowish fine-grained sandstone and mudstone
  • Exu Formation, that comprises medium-to coarse grained sandstones, fine grained clayey sandstones and local conglomeratic beds


Chapada do Araripe
Outcrop in the Araripe Basin
Age Group Formation Sequence Notes
Cenozoic alluvium
Albian Araripe Exu Post-rift [7][8]
Araripina [9]
Santana Romualdo [8]
Ipubi [8][10]
Crato [7][8]
Araripe Barbalha/Rio da Batateira [7][8][9]
Early Cretaceous Vale do Carirí Abaiara Pre- and syn-rift [8][9]
Missão Velha [7][8][9]
Late Jurassic
Brejo Santo
Middle Jurassic
Early Jurassic hiatus
Devonian Paleozoic sequence Mauriti
Ordovician hiatus
Precambrian Basement

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Neto et al., 2013, p.1
  2. ^ Bianca Carvalho Vieira; André Salgado; Leonardo Santos (2015-03-05). Landscapes and Landforms of Brazil. p. 232. ISBN 9789401780230.
  3. ^ Assine, 1992, p.290
  4. ^ (in Portuguese) Chapada do Araripe vira parque geológico
  5. ^ Neto et al., 2013, p.3
  6. ^ Fabin et al., 2018, pp.2051-2052
  7. ^ a b c d Bétard et al., 2017, p.10
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Assine, 1992, p.291
  9. ^ a b c d Scherer et al., 2013, p.28
  10. ^ Ribeiro et al., 2011, p.62


Further readingEdit