, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 71–108 | Cite as

Controls on modern carbonate sedimentation on warm-temperate to arctic coasts, shelves and seamounts in the Northern Hemisphere: Implications for fossil counterparts

  • Rüdiger Henrich
  • André Freiwald
  • Christian Betzler
  • Beate Bader
  • Priska Schäfer
  • Christian Samtleben
  • Thomas C. Brachert
  • Achim Wehrmann
  • Heinrich Zankl
  • Dietrich H. H. Kühlmann


In contrast to the well studied tropical carbonate environments, interest in non-tropical carbonate deposition was rather low until the basic ideas of theForamol-concept were outlined byLees & Buller (1972). In the following two decades studies on non-tropical carbonate settings evolved as a new and exciting branch of carbonate sedimentology (seeNelson 1988). This is archieved in a great number of publications dealing on temperate carbonate deposits from numerous coastal and open shelf settings on both hemispheres. The existence of wide extended carbonate depositional systems and even reefal frameworks in Subarctic and Arctic seas which are in focus by our research group made it possible to study modern non-tropical carbonate settings along a latitudinal transect from the warm-temperate Mediterranean Sea to the cold Nordic Seas. Because of increasing seasonality in environmental conditions towards high latitudes, the major controls in biogenic carbonate production can be more clearly addressed in these areas. After the initiation of the priority program “Global and regional controlling processes of biogenic sedimentation-evolution of reefs” by the German Science Foundation four years ago, a set of modern case studies were comparatively analysed specifically with regard to their principle controlling processes:
  1. (1)

    Modern and Holocene coralline algal reefs and rhodolith pavements formed in wave-protected shallow waters along the coast of the Brittany and northern Norway. Their finetuned interaction with herbivores resulted in the development of widespread but low-diverse, slowly growing coralline algal frameworks with high competitive value against the rapid-growing phaeophytic communities.

  2. (2)

    The MediterraneanCladocora caespitosa-banks provide an instructive example of non-tropical hermatypic coral framework construction out of the subtropical-tropical coral reef belt.

  3. (3)

    The geometry and environmental controls of several kilometer long coral reefs formed by the azooxanthellateLophelia pertusa andMadrepora oculata are studied in more than 250 m water depth in mid and northern Norway.

  4. (4)

    ModernBryomol-sediments are widely distributed on non-tropical deeper shelf settings. The formational processes converting bryozoan-thickets into huge piles of sand and gravel dunes are recently studied on the outer shelves off northern Brittany and off northern Norway.

  5. (5)

    Arctic sponge-bryozoan buildups on the seamount Vesterisbank in the Greenland Sea and

  6. (6)

    balanid-dominated open shelf carbonates on the Spitsbergen Bank form the Arctic endmembers of modernForamol-deposits. Seasonalice-edge phytoplankton blooms and efficient mechanisms of pelagic-benthic food transfer characterize these depositional settings. Fossil counterparts of each of these modern case studies are discussed in context with their paleoceanographic and environmental settings.



Non-tropical carbonates Environmental control Seasonality Oceanography Foramol Bryomol Coralline algae Maerl Balanids Bryozoa Lophelia-reefs Cladocora banks Kelp forests Recent 


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Copyright information

© Institut für Paläontologie, Universität Erlangen 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rüdiger Henrich
    • 1
  • André Freiwald
    • 1
  • Christian Betzler
    • 2
  • Beate Bader
    • 5
  • Priska Schäfer
    • 5
  • Christian Samtleben
    • 5
  • Thomas C. Brachert
    • 3
  • Achim Wehrmann
    • 4
  • Heinrich Zankl
    • 4
  • Dietrich H. H. Kühlmann
    • 6
  1. 1.Fachbereich GeowissenschaftenUniversität BremenBremen
  2. 2.Geologisch-Paläontologisches InstitutFrankfurt a.M.
  3. 3.Institut für GeowissenschaftenUniversität MainzMainz
  4. 4.Institut für Geologie und PaläontologieUniversität MarburgMarburg
  5. 5.Geologisch-Paläontologisches InstitutUniversität KielKiel
  6. 6.Schmagerow/Vorpommem

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