During the Middle Pennsylvanian (Desmoinesian), the Paradox basin was an enclosed, evaporitic basin consisting of a deep trough with a shallow shelf rimming its south and west side. During Desert Creek deposition, at least two large phylloid algal-mound complexes flourished on or at the edge of the shelf. One complex is now delineated by Aneth field and the other is partly delineated by Bug and Papoose Canyon fields. In the Bug–Papoose Canyon algal-mound complex of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado, carbonate mud mounds grew by accumulation of platy algal fragments, by baffling and trapping of fine sediment by the algae, and by precipitation of botryoidal aragonite cement between fragments.
Extensive diagenesis of the accumulations began with syndepositional precipitation of botryoidal cement, inferred to have been aragonite, on phylloid algal plates, creating a topographically prominent, rigid framework containing abundant pore space. Brecciation during compaction created more pores. Parts of voids were subsequently filled by internal sediment and by calcite and gypsum cements. Finally, the algal-mound accumulations were extensively dolomitized and their porosity increased by dissolution.
The relationship of these algal mounds to the Desert Creek shelf edge suggests that delineation of the shelf edge holds the promise of further discoveries of algal mounds as it is traced to the west and east of Bug and Papoose Canyon fields.