ABSTRACT

Lake-margin lacustrine carbonates of the Green River Formation, in the eastern Uinta basin of Colorado and Utah, occur interbedded with fluvial and shoreline-parallel sandstone and shale. Microbial bindstones were deposited in a saline-alkaline lake during and after the Early Eocene Climate Optimum (EECO) (52–50 million years ago) that is characterized by global hot-house conditions, elevated atmospheric CO2, and highly fluctuating climate conditions. The stratigraphic architecture, chemostratigraphy, and morphology of the microbialites and other associated carbonate beds can be related to these climatic conditions. Three facies associations are recognized in the carbonate units across the lake margin from upper littoral to lower sublittoral environments: facies association 1, delta proximal non-microbial carbonates, characterized by quartzose bioclastic, peloidal, intraclastic packstones and grainstones–rudstones, quartose peloid wackestones and sandy oil shale; facies association 2, microbialite associated non-microbial carbonates, composed of ostracod, ooilitic, peloidal packstones–grainstones and intraclastic packstones, grainstones and rudstones; and facies association 3, microbial carbonates, consisting of diverse forms of stromatolitic and thrombolitic lithofacies.

Multiple scales of carbonate cyclicity are suggested by shifts of δ18O and δ13C stable isotopes and deepening-upward microbialite facies. High-frequency cycles, on the order of 1 to 5 m thickness, are characterized by positive shifts in stable isotopes and interpreted deepening trends from littoral to lower sublittoral conditions. Large-scale trends, on the order of tens to hundreds of meters thickness record long-term lake changes, including: 1) sparse microbialite deposition during initial fresh conditions in lake stage 1, with low macro-structure diversity and light δ18O and δ13C isotope values; 2) transitional lake stage 2 corresponding to moderate macro-structural diversity, large meter-scale biostromal and biohermal buildups, and a positive shift in δ18O and δ13C isotope values that suggest increasing saline and alkaline conditions; 3) a highly fluctuating lake stage 3 that contains the highest microbialite macro-structural diversity and marks the interval of heaviest δ18O and δ13C isotope values, suggesting the greatest lake restriction, and the highest salinity and alkalinity conditions; and 4) a rising lake stage 4 that marks the lowest microbialite macro-structure diversity and a reversal in trend of δ18O and δ13C isotope values, that indicate deepening and freshening conditions.

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