, 22:103 | Cite as

The Danian (Paleocene) coral limestone of Fakse, Denmark: A model for ancient aphotic, azooxanthellate coral mounds

  • Michaela Bernecker
  • Oliver Weidlich


The Danish-Polish Trough—a northwest to southeast striking basin—is bordered by the Fennoscandian Shield in the north and the Ringköbing-Fyn High in the south. During the Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary carbonate sedimentation prevailed. Locally small bryozoan mounds were formed during the Upper Maastrichtian. The bulk of bryozoan bioherms originated during the Danian B to C. Coral communities and coral mounds are confined to the Danian C. About five coral limestone localities occur within the Danish-Polish Trough; Fakse is the most important one.

Paleontological and sedimentological data of the coral limestones point to the interpretation of the coral reefs as “cold- and deep-water coral bioherms”.

Important criteria are the (1) absence of algae, (2) low-diverse azooxanthellate coral community, (3) dominance of dendroid growth forms in the corals, (4) surrounding pelagic facies adjacent to the coral mounds, (5) occurrence of pelagic organisms (globigerinid foraminifera, coccoliths) within the micrite of the mound facies and intermound facies, (6) breakdown of framebuilders predominantly by bioerosion instead of mechanical destruction, (7) mound- or bank-like structure of the buildups, (8) occurrence at a high paleolatitude.

Three major facies types can be distinguished: (1) bryozoan limestones, (2) transitional facies, and (3) coral limestones which include five subfacies types defined by the predominating coral taxa. Most coral mounds are composed of facies types 2 and 3.

Diagenesis is characterized by the formation of early marine-phreatic fibrous and bladed cements and by late diagenetic meteoric-phreatic dog-tooth cements and the replacement of calcite cements by quartz.

The mounds have an asymmetrical shape caused by unidirectional currents from the south. The maximum length is 200 m, the height 30 m and the width 80 m. The distribution of colonial corals within the mounds indicates a zonation pattern.

Framebuilders are represented only by azooxanthellate organisms: Colonial scleractinian corals, stylasterine hydrozoans and octocorals. Scleractinian corals have dendroid and arborescent growth forms, whereas hydrozoans and octocorals form fan-like colonies. Strong bioerosion of the framebuilding organisms was responsible for the breakdown of the skeletons; the bioclasts formed the substrate for other framebuilders. The soft bottom between the framebuilders was burrowed by bivalves and crustaceans.

The comparison with coral mounds occurring in the eastern Atlantic at similar latitudes and in a position comparable with that of the Paleocene Danish-Polish Trough suggests a paleodepth between 100 and 300 m.


Facies analysis Carbonate diagenesis Reefs Deep-water coral mounds Aphotic environment Scleractinian corals hydrozoans Octocorals Denmark Tertiary (Danian) 

Der Korallenkalk aus dem Dan (Paläozän) von Fakse, Dänemark: Ein Modell für fossile aphotische, azooxanthellate Korallenriffe


In der Oberkreide und im Alttertiär wurden im Dänisch-Polnischen Trog überwiegend Karbonate abgelagert. Erste Bryozoenbioherme sind bereits aus der Oberkreide bekannt. Die meisten der Bryozoen-Mounds entstanden jedoch im Dan B und C. Korallen bauten erst im Dan C biogene Strukturen auf. Von den etwa fünf Korallenkalk-Lokalitäten im Dänisch-Polnischen Trog ist Fakse auf grund der Aufschlußverhältnisse und der Mächtigkeit der Korallenkalke (ca. 50m) die wichtigste.

Paläontologische und sedimentologische Daten machen eine Deutung der Korallen-Mounds als “Kalt- und Tiefwasser-Riffe” wahrscheinlich.

Kriterien hierfür sind: (1) Fehlen von Algen, (2) geringdiverse azooxanthellate Korallenassoziation, (3) Überwiegen von dendroiden Wuchsformen unter den Korallen, (4) die die Mounds umgebende pelagische Fazies, (5) Beteiligung von pelagischen Organismen an der Mikritbildung, (6) Zerstörung der Gerüstbildnerskelette überwiegend durch Bioerosion (7) moundförmige Struktur der Riffe, (8) Vorkommen in einer hohen Paläobreite.

Innerhalb der Mounds treten drei Faziestypen auf:
  1. (1)


  2. (2)

    Übergangsfazies Korallenkalk/Bryozoenkalk,

  3. (3)

    Korallenkalk mit fünf Subfaziestypen, die anhand der jeweils dominierenden Korallengattungen unterschieden werden. Die Korallenmounds bestehen überwiegend aus den Faziestypen 2 und 3.


Die Diagenese ist durch frühdiagenetische marin-phreatische fibröse Zemente und spätdiagenetisch entstandene meteorisch-phreatische Hundezahnzemente sowie durch Verdrängung der karbonatischen Zemente durch Quarz charakterisiert.

Die Mounds wachsen asymmetrisch einer aus südlicher Richtung kommenden Strömung entgegen. Die maximale Länge der Mounds beträgt 200 m, die Höhe mindestens 30 m und die Breite 80 m. Die moundförmige Gestalt wird durch die interne Fazieszonierung verdeutlicht.

Die Gerüstbildner-koloniale Korallen, Hydrozoen und Oktokorallen-lebten, wie sich anhand der Morphologie nachweisen läßt, ohne Symbiose mit Zooxanthellen. Koloniebildende Scleractinier waren durch arborescente und dendroide Wuchsformen, die meisten Oktokorallen und Hydrozoen durch eine fächerförmige Wuchsform an eine heterotrophe Ernährung angepaßt. Durch starke Inkrustationen und intensive Anbohrung wurden die Gerüstbildner instabil und brachen leicht zusammen. Das Sediment zwischen ihnen war nicht lithifiziert.

Korallenmounds im SE-Atlantik in einer mit dem Dänisch-Polnischen Trog vergleichbaren Breite und Position legen eine Entstehung der Korallenmounds von Fakse in einer Tiefe von 100–300 m nahe.


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Copyright information

© Institut für Paläontologie, Universität Erlangen 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michaela Bernecker
    • 1
  • Oliver Weidlich
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für PaläontologieUniversität ErlangenErlangen

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