Scientific article
Open access

Late Pennsylvanian carbonate platform facies and coral reef: new insights from southern China (Guizhou Province)

Published inFacies, vol. 67, no. 3
Publication date2021

The Pennsylvanian is characterized by intense paleoenvironmental changes related to glacio-eustatic sea-level fluctuations and major tectonic events, which affected the evolution of biocommunities. Most known Pennsylvanian tropical reefs and mounds are predominantly composed of calcareous algae (e.g. phylloid algae, Archaeolithophyllum), calcareous sponges, fenestrate bryozoans, Tubiphytes, and microbialites. However, in Houchang (southern China), the Late Pennsylvanian carbonate platform records a large coral reef lacking any analogs in age (Gzhelian), size (80–100 m thick) and composition (high biodiversity). The large coral reef developed at the border of the Luodian intraplatform basin. The intraplatform basin is characterized by the deposition of green algal grainstone, coated grain grainstone and bioclastic packstone, grainstone, floatstone and rudstone in shallow-waters. In the deep-water shelf, lithofacies are composed of burrowed bioclastic wackestone, microbioclastic peloidal packstone, grainstone, and fine-grained burrowed wackestone and packstone. In this context, the coral reef developed on a deep-shelf margin, in a moderate to low energy depositional environment, below the FWWB. The scarcity of Pennsylvanian coral reefs suggests global unfavorable conditions, which can be attributed to a complex pattern of several environmental factors, including seawater chemistry (aragonite seas), paleoclimatic cooling related to continental glaciation, and the biological competition with the more opportunistic and adaptive phylloid algal community that occupied similar platform margin paleoenvironments. The existence of the large Bianping coral reef in southern China, as well as a few additional examples of Pennsylvanian coralliferous bioconstructions, provides evidence that coral communities were able to endure the Late Paleozoic fluctuating paleoenvironmental conditions in specific settings. One of such settings appears to have been the deep shelf margin, where low light levels decreased competition with the phylloid algal community.

  • Pennsylvanian
  • Kasimovian–Gzhelian
  • Coral reef
  • Carbonate platform
Citation (ISO format)
MAILLET, Marine et al. Late Pennsylvanian carbonate platform facies and coral reef: new insights from southern China (Guizhou Province). In: Facies, 2021, vol. 67, n° 3. doi: 10.1007/s10347-020-00613-w
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0172-9179

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