, Volume 51, Issue 1-4, pp 584-591
Date: 21 Apr 2005

Silurian carbonate platforms and extinction events—ecosystem changes exemplified from Gotland, Sweden

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Abstract

Recent and ancient carbonate platforms are major marine ecosystems, built by various carbonate-secreting organisms with different sensitivity for environmental change. For this reason, carbonate platforms are excellent sensors for changes in contemporaneous marine environments. A variety of ecosystem changes in carbonate platforms have previously been recognised in the aftermath of mass extinction events. This paper addresses how two Silurian extinction events among graptolites, conodonts, and pentamerid brachiopods can be related to changes in the style of carbonate production and general evolution of low latitude carbonate platforms in a similar way as previously reported from the major five mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic. Strata formed on Gotland during the Mulde and Lau events share remarkably many similarities but are strikingly different in composition compared to other strata on the island. The event-related strata is characterised by the sudden appearance of widespread oolites, deviating reef composition, flat-pebble conglomerates, abundant micro- and macro-oncoids, stromatolites, and other microbial facies suggesting decreased bioturbation levels in contemporaneous shelf seas. Importantly, these changes can be tied to high-resolution biostratigraphic frameworks and global stable isotope excursions. The anomalous intervals may therefore be searched for elsewhere in order to test their regional or global significance.