Middle paleozoic waulsortian-type mud mounds in Southern Fergana (Southern Tien-Shan, commonwealth of independent states): The shallow-water atoll model

Research paper by Andrei V. Dronov

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


Several Waulsortian-type mud mounds nearly 500 m thick and about 5 km long occur in the Middle Paleozoic carbonate section of the Aktur nappe in the mountains on the right bank of Isfara river. These buildups form a well developed barrier system that stretches along the South Ferganian carbonate platform margin and divides the carbonate complex into a fore-reef and a back-reef part. The time of the mounds' most active growth was from the Late Silurian (Ludlow) to the Middle Devonian (Eifel).Three main facies types can be recognized in the mud mounds: 1. micritic core facies, 2. sparitic flank facies and 3. loferitic capping facies. The central massive or crudely bedded part of the mounds consists of white or light grey clotted micrite. Macrofossils are rare. The sparitic flank facies in contrast consists of coarse and densely packed crinoidal wackestone-floatstones with some brachiopod shell debris. Solitary rugose corals, tabulate corals, stromato-poroids and fragments of mollusks are also abundant. The tops of the mounds are usually covered with loferitic pelmicrites or oolitic grainstone caps. Stromatactis-like structures are very rare and poorly developed in the South Ferganian mud mounds. However, almostin all such mounds horizons of calcitic breccias can be found.In order to explain all the features found in the Fergana mounds an ‘atoll-like’ model has been proposed which starts the evolution of the mud mounds with a small nucleus bioherm. The main stage of the evolution corresponds to an atoll-like structure developing on the surface of shallow water platforms. White clotted micrite of the mound core facies is interpreted as a accumulation of fine-grained sediment in an inner lagoon flanked by crinoidal bar deposits. The mound flank facies represents the atoll rim deposits from where the carbonate mud is derived. The capping loferitic facies is considered as tidal flat deposit that developed on top of the buildups during the last stage of its evolution. The knoll shape of the mounds is explained by the retreat of the atoll flanking crinoidal bars back into the inner lagoon during the rise in sea level. Stromatactis-like structures of small cavities filled with sparry calcite owe their existence to burrowing organisms. Calcitic breccias are interpreted as paleokarst collapse breccias. They indicate that the tops of the mud mound became subaerially exposed. Other evidence for a subaerial exposure can be seen in the occurrence of Variscian ‘black and white’ limestone gravel on the tops of some mud mounds. According toWard et al. (1970) these sediments were produced above the sea level at the edge of hypersaline lakes situated on islands.