Late Smithian microbial deposits and their lateral marine fossiliferous limestones (Early Triassic, Hurricane Cliffs, Utah, USA)

Abstract : Recurrent microbialite proliferations during the Early Triassic are usually explained by ecological relaxation and abnormal oceanic conditions. Most Early Triassic microbialites are described as single or multiple lithological units without detailed ecological information about lateral and coeval fossiliferous deposits. Exposed rocks along Workman Wash in the Hurricane Cliffs (southwestern Utah, USA) provide an opportunity to reconstruct the spatial relationships of late Smithian microbialites with adjacent and contemporaneous fossiliferous sediments. Microbialites deposited in an intertidal to subtidal interior platform are intercalated between inner tidal flat dolosiltstones and subtidal bioturbated fossiliferous limestones. Facies variations along these fossiliferous deposits and microbialites can be traced laterally over a few hundreds of meters. Preserved organisms reflect a moderately diversified assemblage, contemporaneous to the microbialite formation. The presence of such a fauna, including some stenohaline organisms (echinoderms), indicates that the development of these late Smithian microbial deposits occurred in normal-marine waters as a simple facies belt subject to relative sea-level changes. Based on this case study, the proliferation of microbialites cannot be considered as direct evidence for presumed harsh environmental conditions.
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Nicolas Olivier, Emmanuel Fara, Emmanuelle Vennin, Kevin Bylund, James Jenks, et al.. Late Smithian microbial deposits and their lateral marine fossiliferous limestones (Early Triassic, Hurricane Cliffs, Utah, USA). Facies, Springer Verlag, 2018, 64 (2), pp.13. ⟨10.1007/s10347-018-0526-3⟩. ⟨hal-01748441⟩

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