, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 195–214 | Cite as

Anthracoporella mounds in the Late Carboniferous Auernig Group, Carnic Alps (Austria)

  • Karl Krainer


A heretofore undocumented example of skeletal mounds formed by the dasycladacean algaAnthracoporella spectabilis is described from mixed carbonate-clastic cycles (Auernig cyclothems) of the Late Carboniferous (Gzhelian) Auernig Group of the central Carnic Alps in southern Austria.

The massive mound facies forms biostromal reef mounds that are up to several m thick and extend laterally over more than 100 m. The mound facies is developed in the middle of bedded limestones, which are up to 16 m thick. These limestones formed during relative sea-level highstands when clastic influx was near zero.

The mound facies is characterized by well developed baffler and binder guilds and does not show any horizontal or vertical zonation. Within the massive mound faciesAnthracoporella is frequently found in growth position forming bafflestones and wackestones composed of abundantAnthracoporella skeletons which toppled in situ or drifted slightly.Anthracoporella grew in such profusion that it dominated the available sea bottom living space, forming ‘algal meadows’ which acted as efficient sediment producers and bafflers. BecauseAnthracoporella could not provide a substantial reef framework, and could not withstand high water turbulence, the biostromal skeletal mounds accumulated in shallow, quiet water below the active wave base in water depths less than 30 m.

The massive mound facies is under- and overlain by, and laterally grades into bedded, fossiliferous limestones of the intermound facies, composed mainly of different types of wackestones and packstones. Individual beds containAnthracoporella andArchaeolithophyllum missouriense in growth position, forming “micromounds’.

Two stages of mound formation are recognized: (1) the stabilization stage when bioclastic wackestones accumulated, and (2) the skeletal mound stage when the sea-bottom was colonized byAnthracoporella and other members of the baffler and binder guilds, formingAnthracoporella bafflestones and wackestones of the mound facies.

A slight drop in sea-level led to the termination of the mound growth and accumulation of organic debris, particularly calcareous algae, fusulinids, crinoids and bryozoans, forming well bedded limestones, which overlie the mound facies


Mounds Microfacies Calcareous Algae Guild Structures Southern Alps Carnic Alps (Austria) Late Carboniferous (Auernig group) 


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Copyright information

© Institut für Paläontologie, Universität Erlangen 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Krainer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Geologie und PaläontologieInnsbruck

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