The bromide “nothing is constant but change” could have been coined to describe the geological history of the Permo-Carboniferous—the Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, and Permian Periods. Global tectonics, fluctuations in atmospheric and oceanic chemistry, changes in global climate, and evolutionary changes in survivors of mass extinctions created the backdrop for the shifting panorama of this remarkable time in earth history.
Catastrophic extinctions during the Frasnian-Famennian crisis decimated global plant and animal populations, leaving survivors to initially struggle through the Devonian-Carboniferous transition. The ensuing evolutionary diversification into less-populated niches was brought to an abrupt end at the close of the Permian Period by the largest of all mass extinctions. Upheavals in plate motion changed the configuration of continents and oceans during this time, resulting in the docking of Gondwana and Euramerica to create the supercontinent Pangea and the “world ocean”, Panthalassa.
Within the evolving Permo-Carboniferous “landscape,” a wide diversity of carbonate platforms and reefs flourished. They ranged in size from small mounds a few square meters in size to mega-platforms occupying hundreds of square kilometers, some of which are important mineral and petroleum reservoirs. It is the diversity (carbonate sequence stratigraphy, platform architecture, diagenesis, reservoir characterization, and the composition of reefs and mounds) which Permo-Carboniferous rocks offer that has led to their intensive study by researchers from industry and academia around the globe.
This book stems mostly from presentations given at the SEPM-and IAS-sponsored research conference Permo-Carboniferous Carbonate Platforms and Reefs, held May 12-19, 2000, in El Paso, Texas. To an extent, the