A microbial model for the Lower Devonian stromatactis mud mounds of the Montagne Noire (France)

Research paper by Gerd Flajs, Hansmartin Hüssner

Indexed on: 01 Dec '93Published on: 01 Dec '93Published in: Facies


Lower Devonian mud mounds and stromatactis fabrics are exceptionally well exposed in quarry walls and industrially sawed blocks in the Montagne Noire in southern France. Interlayered red biomicrites and white to grey sparitic calcites form mounds up to 70 m high. The red biomicrites contain predominantly bryozoans, sponges and echinoderms.The sparitic layers show typical features of stromatactis fabrics, as outlined byBathurst (1982). We recognize two types of stromatactis fabrics: (1) Stromatactis type A: exentsive cavity systems filled by multiple cement generations, which are interpreted to be related to microbial mats, and (2) Stromatactis type B: smaller patches of blocky spar which are mainly diagenetic in origin, but show characteristic features of stromatactis. Type A is far more important in terms of rock volume. The cyclic interlayering of red biomicrites and sparitic layers is supposed to result from frequent changes in the composition of the mound biota.The bryozoan/sponge community was displaced by short term propagations of microbial mats during times of extremely low sedimentation. Sedimentation and thus the biotic community was probably determined by high frequency (6th order) sea level changes. Despite these changes, mound growth continued, because once established the ecological advantage over the surroundings was maintained by both communities alternating with each other. The microbial mats and the cavities they left after their decay were important for the stabilization of the mounds, the latter allowing for enormous quantities of dissolved carbonate to be transported and precipitated. We anticipate a close interrelation between mound formation and stromatactis formation, and we believe that it is not incidential that both, mud mounds and stromatactis, are mainly restricted to the same interval, namely the Paleozoic.