Signatures of hydrocarbon venting in a Middle Devonian Carbonate Mound (Hollard Mound) at the Hamar Laghdad (Antiatlas, Morocco)

Research paper by Jörn Peckmann, Otto Heinrich Walliser, Walter Riegel, Joachim Reitner

Indexed on: 01 Dec '99Published on: 01 Dec '99Published in: Facies


The Middle Devonian Hollard Mud Mound is situated in the eastern Hamar Laghdad, which is a small mountain range in the Tafilalt in SE Morocco. In contrast to the well known Lower Devonian Kess-Kess mounds, the Hollard Mound is of Middle Devonian age. The facies in the core of this mud mound differs from that of the other parts of the mound, and exhibits signatures of ancient hydrocarbon venting. The carbonate phases of the core facies are derived from the oxidation of vent fluids and consist of clotted micrite, a cryptocrystalline carbonate associated with spheres of uncertain origin, and a calcitic rim cement (rim cement B). These vent carbonates show δ13C values in the range of −11 to −20% PDB indicating that some of their carbon is derived from isotopically light hydrocarbons. Fossiliferous micrite has been affected by hydrocarbon venting in the proximity of the vent site, which is indicated by intermediate δ13C values between vent carbonates and not affected sediments. Bivalves occur in dense populations within the core facies. They form autochthonous shell accumulations and are almost exclusively articulated. it is likely that these bivalves were dependent on chemosynthesis similar to their counterparts at modern vents. The vent deposits also exhibit an unusual prasinophyte assemblage, which might have been linked to the specific nutrient availability at the vent site.The ancient vent site is characterized by an enhanced carbonate precipitation and rapid lithification. The latter is corroborated by the three-dimensional preservation of phytoplankton (prasinophytes and acritarchs) and the occurrence of stromatactoid pores. An early phase of carbonate corrosion predating the formation of vent carbonates affected the fossiliferous micrite of the core facies and is thought to be related to a phase of H2S-rich venting.