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Habitat analysis and reef-building potential of colonial rugose corals from the Early Carboniferous Mississippian of Western Europe Habitatanalyse und Riffbildungspotential kolonialer rugoser Korallen im Unterkarbon Mississippium von Westeuropa

Habitat analysis and reef-building potential of colonial rugose corals from the Early Carboniferous Mississippian of Western Europe Habitatanalyse und Riffbildungspotential kolonialer rugoser Korallen im Unterkarbon Mississippium von Westeuropa

Koelner Forum fuer Geologie und Palaeontologie, 10: 1-155

The habitats of colonial rugose corals - the reef coral fauna of HILL 1938 - are investigated in the upper Lower Carboniferous (Mississippian) of Western Europe. The studied area consists of two geotectonic realms, the stable southern shelf of Laurussia (Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland) and the southern shelf of Armorica (Southern France), which has been reworked during the Variscan orogeny. Based on the diversity and frequency of colonial taxa, the distances of the colonies, the lateral and vertical dimensions of the single coral occurrences, and their facies setting, six gradually intermerging ecotypes are differentiated: A: level-bottom communities, B: coral meadows, C: biostromes, D: mound-dwelling communities, E: bioherms, divided into the subtypes coral-microbe reefs (El) and coral reefs (E2) and F: reef complexes. This division is applicable to coral-bearing bioconstructions on a world-wide scale. The analysis of the habitats shows that colonial rugose corals actively contributed to reef- formation in bioherms and reef complexes, and partly in biostromes. Coral-dominated bioconstructions are more frequent than hitherto and occur in all shallow-water carbonate systems studied. Colonial rugose corals are dwellers in various microbial shallow-water mounds. The potential of rugose corals to form bioconstructions is mostly limited to frame-building due to their inability to encrust substrates. Only exceptionally intergrowing cerioid rugose corals actively stabilized certain bioconstructions. Normally, encrusting and binding was achieved by associations of microbes, algae, and bryozoans. This fundamental functional difference provides the differentiation of coral-microbe reefs and coral reefs. Generally, Mississippian coral-dominated bioconstructions consist only of a pioneer stage; a true diversification is never observed and domination stages developed rarely. The bioconstructions had been limited to one 4th or 5th order sequence. Their growth was restricted by a complex system of limiting factors. High-frequency eustatic sea-level fluctuations and/or siliciclastic input and biotic competition are the most important factors on a local scale. Rapidly varying, they caused only briefly ecological niches resulting in small and undifferentiated biotic buildups. The faunal turnover at the Mid-Carboniferous Boundary caused the final collapse of the coral- dominated Late Mississippian bioconstructions. The study of coral-dominated bioconstructions also supplied new litho- and biostratigraphic data in the Western European Asbian to Serpukhovian. The monography also includes a taxonomic description of the important rugose corals in late Lower Carboniferous bioconstructions.

Accession: 038291005

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