Mud mounds: A polygenetic spectrum of fine-grained carbonate buildups

Research paper by Gerd Flajs, Manfred Vigener, Helmut Keupp, Dieter Meischner, Fritz Neuweiler, Josef Paul, Joachim Reitner, Klaus Warnke, Helmut Weller, Patrick Dingle, Christian Hensen, Priska Schäfer, Pascale Gautret, Reinhold R. Leinfelder, Hansmartin Hüssner, et al.

Indexed on: 01 Dec '95Published on: 01 Dec '95Published in: Facies


This research report contains nine case studies (part II to X) dealing with Palaeozoic and Mesozoic mud mounds, microbial reefs, and modern zones of active micrite production, and two parts (I and XI) summarizing the major questions and results. The formation of different types ofin situ formed micrites (automicrites) in close association with siliceous sponges is documented in Devonian, Carboniferous, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous mounds and suggests a common origin with a modern facies found within reef caves. Processes involved in the formation of autochthonous micrites comprise: (i) calcifying mucus enriched in Asp and Glu, this type presumably is linked to the formation of stromatolites, thrombolites and massive fabrics; (ii) protein-rich substances within confined spaces (e.g. microcavities) result in peloidal pockets, peloidal coatings and peloidal stromatolites, and (iii) decay of sponge soft tissues, presumably enriched with symbiotic bacteria, lead to the micropeloidal preservation of parts of former sponge bodies. As a consequence, there is strong evidence that the primary production of micrite in place represents the initial cause for buildup development. The mode of precipitation corresponds to biologically-induced, matrix-mediated mineralization which results in high-Mg-calcites, isotopically balanced with inorganic cements or equilibrium skeletal carbonates, respectively. If distinct automicritic fabrics are absent, the source or origin of micrite remains questionable. However, the co-occurring identifiable components are inadequate, by quantity and physiology, to explain the enhanced accumulation of fine-grained calcium carbonate. The stromatolite reefs from the Permian Zechstein Basin are regarded as reminiscent of ancestral (Precambrian) reef facies, considered the precursor of automicrite/sponge buildups. Automicrite/sponge buildups represent the basic Phanerozoic reef type. Analogous facies are still present within modern cryptic reef habitats, where the biocalcifying carbonate factory is restricted in space.