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CARBONATE

ENVIRONMENTS
Brief Introduction
Most modern carbonates are accumulating in warm, shallow waters

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


Basin margins typically start off as ramps

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


the ramp slope steepens with continued basin subsidence

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


Shallow water carbonate sedimentation keeps pace with
subsidence around basin margin but can not match the
faster rates towards basin center. As water deepens,
carbonate sedimentation rates are reduced. Shelf break
of slope results.

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


The break of slope is a site of high energy from incoming
waves. This promotes carbonate precipitation for reef building
or oolitic and other sand accumulation. Sheltered conditions
develop behind the reef or shoal (lagoon or protected shelf).

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


Rimmed shelf edge or offshore carbonate banks develop in
this way, adjacent to deep water areas.

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


deep water

shallow water
platform carbonates
oolite shoals

Andros Island and Tongue of the Oceans


J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag
Carbonate facies are divided by the shelf margin reef or
carbonate sand shoals into back-reef and fore-reef/basin

(1969) GCAGS Transactions, v. 19, p. 11-22

fondoform clinoform undaform


Wilson proposed 9 Standard Facies Belts

J.L. Wilson (1975), "Carbonate Facies in Geologic History" Springer-Verlag


Carbonate Environments
• Subaerial exposure
– karst
• caves, collapse breccias
– caliche
del Olmo, W.M., and M. Esteban (1983), AAPG Memoir 33, p.93
Esteban, M., and C.F. Klappa, (1983), AAPG Memoir 33, p. 6
Karst, China
Lechugilla Cave, New Mexico
Hamblin, W.K., and E.H. Christiansen (2001) “Earth’s Dynamic Systems” 9th Ed., Prentice Hall
Labor Day 2000; 2000/24-22. Mile 490

Collapse breccias above zone of gypsum dissolution, Cretaceous Edwards Group, Texas
Caliche zone in modern soil profile, Texas.
from Moore, C.H., (2001), Carbonate Reservoirs, Porosity Evolution and Diagenesis
in a Sequence Stratigraphic Framework. Elsevier. [book and CD]
Caliche glaebules (“pisoliths”), Del Rio, Texas
Caliche glaebules, polished surface of a thin section,
reflected light
“Syncline” and “anticline”, Buda/Del Rio contact,
1.1 miles east of Comstock, US-90

Lock, B.E., (2000), GCAGS Trans.


Terra Rosa, Queretaro, Mexico
Carbonate Environments
• Subaerial exposure
• Freshwater
– lakes and rivers
• freshwater algae (Chara, etc.) and cyanobacteria
(stromatolites, oncoliths, etc.)
Dean, W.E. and T.D. Fouch (1983),
AAPG Memoir 33, p. 115

Algal-precipitated carbonate (LMC) on bottles etc., lake in New York state, USA
Oncoliths with gastropod nuclei.

Upper: - Recent, Michigan

Lower:- Flagstaff Formation


(Paleocene), Utah

Dean, W.E. and T.D. Fouch (1983),


AAPG Memoir 33, p. 123
Oncoliths, Flagstaff Limestone
(Paleocene-Eocene), Utah.
Freshwater lake deposits.
Stromatolites, Green River Formation, Eocene, Utah, USA.

Dean, W.E. and T.D. Fouch (1983), AAPG Memoir 33, p. 119
SEM views of
Chara, ostracods,
small clam, all from
freshwater muds,
Lower Cretaceous,
Arkansas, USA.
Travertine dams, pools,
southern Tamaulipas State,
Mexico
Recent travertine, Seven Rivers, New Mexico
oolith sand

Shore of Great salt Lake, Utah.

inset: ooliths in thin section.


Carbonate Environments
• Subaerial exposure
• Freshwater
• Eolian
– wind-blown carbonate sands (mainly coastal)
Carbonate eolianite, Castle Rock, Bermuda

McKee, E. D., and W.C. Ward (1983), AAPG Memoir 33, p. 153
Carbonate Environments
• Subaerial exposure
• Freshwater
• Eolian
• Coastal
– transgressive/regressive?
– arid/humid?
– wave or tide dominated?
– supratidal, intertidal, subtidal zones
CARBONATE
TIDAL FLAT MODELS

Andros Island,
transgressive, humid,
mesotidal

marsh, tidal creeks,


intertidal algal flats
beach ridge
Shinn, E.A. (1983),
AAPG Memoir 33, p. 172

Persian Gulf,
regressive, arid,
microtidal

sabkha (supratidal),
abundant evaporites,
intertidal algal mat,
high and low energy lagoon,
barrier island
Supratidal
• Arid (sabkha)
– deflation surfaces
– intrastratal evaporites (mainly gypsum or
anhydrite) as lenticular crystals, nodules,
contorted beds (enterolithic), massive layers
(“cottage cheese”, mosaic or chicken-wire),
halite molds
– dolomite
Enterolithic (contorted) anhydrite, deflation surface, Abu Dhabi sabkha

Shinn, E.A. (1983),


AAPG Memoir 33, p. 196
marine subtidal sediment
with gypsum crystals algal mat cottage cheese anhydrite nodules

cores of sabkha sediments, Abu Dhabi


Sabkha lithofacies, Arab Formation (Jurassic), Abu Dhabi
Grotsch, et al. (2003), GeoArabia v. 8, p. 47-86
Grotsch, et al. (2003),
GeoArabia v. 8, p. 47-86

Inner ramp cross-


bedded oolitic
grainstones

Mid ramp and outer


ramp bioturbated
wackestones

Sabkha lithofacies, Arab Formation (Jurassic), Abu Dhabi


molds from dissolution of gypsum nodules, Cretaceous, Texas

gyps nodule molds


Evaporites may dissolve and leave collapse breccias (Texas Cretaceous)
supratidal (sabkha)
dolomite bed,
Cretaceous, Texas

parasequence boundary

dolomite (dark rock)


Supratidal
• Arid (sabkha)
• Humid
– marshes (peat/coal), roots, cerithid
gastropods
Shinn, E.A. (1983),
AAPG Memoir 33, p. 172

Andros Island
Intertidal
• Tidal creeks
– high to moderate energy; alternating
– grainstones, flat-pebble conglomerates
– wavy, lenticular and flaser bedding,
bidirectional currents
– fining-up
Tidal creek, based on Andros Island
Shinn, E.A. (1983), AAPG Memoir 33, p. 192
Flat-pebble conglomerate, tidal flats. Kindblade Formation, Ordovician, Oklahoma.

Shoe, for scale


dolomitized tidal bedding, Cretaceous, Texas
“herring-bone” cross bedding (tidal, bi-directional), Cretaceous, Texas.
“herring-bone” cross bedding (tidal, bi-directional), Cretaceous, Texas.
Intertidal
• Tidal creeks
• Flats
– fine grained sediments
– scoured surfaces common
– burrowed
– algal laminations, stromatolites, birdseye
structures
– surface crusts (dolomite)
Birdseye (= fenestral) structure, Mississippian, Kentucky, USA.

scoured surface
Algal mat, Baffin Bay,
south Texas coast
“crinkly” algal mat lamination, Permian, New Mexico
Stromatolites, tidal flats.
Kindblade Formation, Ordovician, Oklahoma.

5 cm
Arid tidal flats, Sonoran coast, Mexico (siliciclastic sands): note tidal creeks feed
sediment on to the flats. Dark areas are halophyte plants.
Dolomitic crust (white) beneath erosional surface, Cretaceous tidal flats, El Abra.
Modern tidal flats, Sonora. Dolomitic crusts eroded by tidal creek.
Subtidal/Lagoon
• High or low energy, depending on lagoon size,
etc.
– carbonate mudstones to grainstones
• Salinity may fluctuate (fresh water flooding, high
salinities from evaporation)
– high stress: flora and fauna may not be normal marine
• miliolid forams etc., serpulids, ostracods, no echinoderms.
• Shoaling-up cycles
Peritidal cycles
(supratidal/intertidal/subtidal),
Cretaceous, Texas
Peters et al., GeoArabia
v. 8 (2), 2003
Surface-exposed
salt domes, Oman.
Blocks of
interbedded
shallow water
limestone are
scattered over the
ground.

Peters et al., GeoArabia


v. 8 (2), 2003
Limestones were interbedded
with the original salt (latest
Precambrian) and contain
stromatolites, crinkly lamination
and other shallow water
features. Microbial mat
limestones are dark and fetid,
believed to be source rocks in
deeper parts of the basin. Red
clastics are interbedded with
the carbonates.

salt
limestone reservoirs

Peters et al., GeoArabia


v. 8 (2), 2003
Peters et al., GeoArabia
v. 8 (2), 2003
Beach and/or Barrier Island
• High energy, coarsening-up sequence

• Seaward-dipping lamination, low-angle cross-bedding


(summer-winter variation in beach foreshore slope), some
higher angle landward-dipping cross-beds (offshore bars).

• Festoon cross-bedding in tidal channels (coarse-based units)

• Beach-rock (vadose and phreatic cement textures, marine


cement mineralogies)
Inden, R.F., and C.H. Moore (1983), AAPG Memoir 33, p. 213
Festoon cross-bedding, tidal inlet channel
Beach rock, Bahia Adair, Sonora.
Thin-section photomicrograph, beach rock from Bahia Adair.
Note aragonite needle cements