Abstract

Following the collapse of the Early Cambrian archaeocyathan–calcimicrobial reef consortium, the Middle–Late Cambrian – Furongian was an interval dominated by purely microbial dendrolite and stromatolite reefs. However, among these latter, a few exceptional occurrences of metazoan reefs are known. One such reef complex occurs in the late Middle – early Late Cambrian – Furongian portion of the Mila Formation of northern Iran. In the otherwise low-energy interval of this formation, the anthaspidellid demosponge Rankenella hamdii sp. nov. is associated with encrusting Girvanella, eocrinoid plates, rhynchonelliformean brachiopod valves and subordinate hyoliths and trilobites in tempestite shell beds; these beds underwent synsedimentary cementation on the seafloor to form hardgrounds. In the succeeding, higher energy interval, a complex of metre-scale bioherms and (or) taphoherms incorporates toppled or transported Rankenella hamdii in association with brachiopods, echinoderm plates, trilobites and some red argillaceous lime mud. Among these, undoubted reefs were constructed from a framework of digitate Rankenella hamdii with thick Girvanella encrustations. These encrustations locally developed as subvertical columnar ministromatolites, which could also merge laterally to form more extensive masses. Subsequent pervasive cementation generated isopachous rinds that preserved the reef framework intact. Coeval and younger Cambrian anthaspidellid–calcimicrobial reefs are known from California–Nevada and Texas, USA. These were heralds of the Early Ordovician resurgence of metazoan reefs.

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