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A New Synthesis Of Permo-Carboniferous Phylloid Algal Reef Ecology

By
Graham T. W. Forsythe
Graham T. W. Forsythe
Department Of Earth Sciences, University Of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, United Kingdom Present address: School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales Bangor, Menai Bridge, Anglesey LL59 5EY, United Kingdom, e-mail: cg.forsythe@bangor.ac.uk, e-mail: G.T.W.Forsythe.96@cantab.net
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Published:
January 01, 2003

Abstract

The phylloid algal genera Eugonophyllum and Archaeolithophyllum are common constituents of Virgilian and Wolfcampian reef limestones in the Hueco Mountains of Texas. These algae form bioherms and biostromes and are volumetrically important contributors to both the reef and offreef sediment budget. Reefs constructed by phylloid algae have long been considered as ecologically simple communities that lack dominant framebuilding organisms. The previously accepted constructional mechanism for reef formation has been inferred to be sediment baffling and trapping, mainly by erect phylloid algae. This new, detailed analysis of phylloidalgal growth framework, however, clearly shows that these algae were in fact capable of forming a rigid framework. Phylloid algae, mostly Eugonophyllum, together with the problematicum Tubiphytes and the red alga (?) Archaeolithoporella, formed complex, multiple encrustations (both in vivo and post mortem) and were a fundamental element of reef construction. Much of the micrite in these reefs, often regarded as a sediment, has been identified as microbialite; this microbialite is important in binding and stabilizing the initial reef framework created by the phylloid algae.

A dominant ecological succession was identified from the Eugonophyllum communities: 1. a pioneer community of phylloid algae would initially stabilize the substrate; 2. this would enable an encrusting community of mostly Tubiphytes, Archaeolithoporella, and microbialite to develop, followed by 3. a climax community of larger calcisponges.

In the Archaeolithophyllum communities, the thalli were largely constratal (organisms not substantially elevated above the substrate) and lacked any obvious microbialite association. The resultant Archaeolithophyllum communities therefore did not develop any significant depositional relief and thusformed biostromes.

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SEPM Special Publication

Permo-Carboniferous Carbonate Platforms and Reefs

Wayne M. Ahr
Wayne M. Ahr
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3115, U.S.A.
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Paul M. (Mitch) Harris
Paul M. (Mitch) Harris
ChevronTexaco E&P Technology Company, 6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, California 94583-0746, U.S.A.
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William A. Morgan
William A. Morgan
ConocoPhillips, Inc., P.O. Box 2197, Houston, Texas 77252-2197, U.S.A.
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Ian D. Somerville
Ian D. Somerville
Department of Geology, University College - Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
78
ISBN electronic:
9781565763340
Publication date:
January 01, 2003

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