, 65:40 | Cite as

Ramp reef depositional facies model for the Mid-Pliocene Golden Gates Reef Member of the Tamiami Formation, South Florida

  • J. F. Meeder
  • J. S. KlausEmail author
  • M. Grasmueck
Original Article


The depositional setting for northern most Atlantic coral reef development during the Mid-Pliocene Warm Period is a gentle sloping mixed carbonate–siliciclastic ramp. Five core transects document the distribution of the reef complex in an area approximately 65 by 12 km, and nine repetitive depositional facies are identified. Paleoecological and sedimentological evidence documents facies development along a water depth–energy gradient. The mid-Pliocene Tamiami Formation is characterized by coral boundstone developed over level skeletal rudstone depositional units dominated by mollusks. Hyotissa haitensis (Sowerby), one of the last Gryphaeid oysters, is the dominant fossil found in the most continuous skeletal facies and overlies deeper water green clay facies, the only facies with pelagic foraminifera. Ground penetrating radar documents reef depositional topography, onlapping stratigraphy and two episodes of reef growth. Two cycles of deposition are recognized, separated by subaerial exposure. The coral boundstone and the skeletal rudstone exhibit both high primary and secondary porosity and overlie the impermeable clay facies. The upper surface of the coral boundstone lies at ~ 4 m in elevation whereas contemporaneous estuarine deposits are found to the north at elevations of 20–25 m. High porosity bank reef complexes along a shallow dipping ramp provide an alternative to the standard model of reef and porosity development along the outer shelf margin. Understanding the differences in associated facies between these two depositional environments permits better interpretation of observed heterogeneities in subsurface geobodies associated with inner shelf and platform settings.


Ramp model Coral reef Gryphaeidae Mid-Pliocene Warm Period 



We acknowledge the contributions of M. Hunter, D. Moore, D. Nicol, A. Olsson, E. Vokes, H. Vokes and D. Wilson through many days of field collecting, comparing sections and discussing fossil and stratigraphic relationships. We thank P. Marchesini and B. Burke for assistance with GPR data acquisition and visualizing the coral boundstone surface. We thank the National Science Foundation (EAR79-21790); the industrial sponsors of the Comparative Sedimentology Laboratory, Center for Carbonate Research, University of Miami; the Bader Fund, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami; the Miami Geological Society; the Geological Society of America; and the Naples Shell Club for support of this research. We also thank the Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University for providing office, laboratory, and research facilities. This is contribution 922 from the Southeastern Environmental Research Center in the Institute of Water and Environment at Florida International University.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 18070 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 35171 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (XLS 35 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine Geosciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA

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