During the Furongian (late Cambrian) and Early Ordovician, maze-like (maceriate) microbialites flourished in both Laurentia and Gondwana. The maze-like microbialites are characterized by centimeter- to decimeter-scale branching, complex structures. However, organisms responsible for the formation of maze-like structures are poorly known. In order to understand formational processes of maze-like microbialites, this study focuses on the Furongian microbialites of the North China Platform in which microbial components and siliceous sponges co-occur. The maze-like structures consist of microbial components such as microstromatolites, Girvanella, and Renalcis-like forms, as well as sponge spicule networks, whereas lime mud and bioclasts occupy the space between the structures. The maze-like structures developed on a relatively flat seafloor, forming low synoptic relief (<1 cm) above the sediment surface. Continuous growth of maze-like structures with balanced deposition of sediments led to meter-scale bioherms and biostromes, under the control of both microbes and siliceous sponges. This study suggests that siliceous sponges may have played an important role in the construction of maze-like structures between the end-Cambrian Series 2 extinction and the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.

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