, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 145–168 | Cite as

Deep-water stromatolites andFrutexites Maslov from the early and Middle Jurassic of S-Germany and Austria

  • Florian Böhm
  • Thomas C. Brachert


Despite extensive discussions during the last 20 years stromatolites are still used by many geologists as unequivocal indicators of very shallow-water conditions. We investigated four stratigraphic units from the Lower and Middle Jurassic of southern Germany (Posidonien-Schiefer, Amaltheen-Ton) and of the Northern Calcareous Alps (Adneter Kalk, Klauskalk), which were formerly interpreted as shallow marine sediments by some authors due to the occurrence of stromatolites. Our interpretations of the macro-, micro- and ultrafacies of these sediments are not compatible with shallow-water settings. We therefore propose a deep-marine, aphotic origin of these stromatolites.

Former interpretations of the Posidonien-Schiefer as a shallow-water deposit are mainly based on the occurrence of stromatolites. We favour the model of a temporarily stagnant, deep, aphotic basin for these planktonrich sediments. Particles resembling ooids, but lying within mudstones cannot be taken as evidence for shallow agitated water. They either formed within the mud or are allochthonous.

The deep-water setting of the red limestone of the Alpine Early and Middle Jurassic is indicated by a lack of platform-typical components like coated grains and phototrophic benthos and by shells of plankton and nekton forming a major part of the sediment. Stromatolites occur on the steep slope of a drowned Rhaetian reef with an estimated relief of 50–100 m and immediately below and within radiolarian limestones, deposited below the aragonite compensation depth (ACD).

The aphotic stromatolites show some morphological differences to their shallow water counterparts. In all of our sections they occurred during intervals of reduced sedimentation. They form only thin horizons and probably grew very slowly. Mineralizations by Fe−Mn oxides and phosphate are very common. The presence of a microbial film is evident from binding of sedimentary particles, but the nature of the microbes is not known. Growth habits within the very distinct environments of red limestone and black shales show some common features, but also clear differences.

The microproblematicumFrutexites Maslov is a very common component in deep-water stromatolites, but may also itself form small crusts or dendrolites. It occurs in two different forms. Opaque, slender forms with indistinct outlines probably grew within the weakly lithified sediment. Thicker, transparent forms with well defined outlines are found in cavities and probably also grew on the seafloor. Well preserved specimens display an internal fabric of radially arranged fibres of Fe−Mn oxides and calcite. It is suggested that calcite or aragonite were one original mineralogy ofFrutexites, which was later replaced by Fe−Mn oxides or phosphate.

It is not certain whetherFrutexites is an organic, biomineralized structure or an inorganic mineralization, but the variable mineralogy and growth forms in different environments point to an organic origin. But even if organic, the occurrence in cryptic habitats and negative phototactic growth-directions make it clear thatFrutexites was not phototrophic.


Deep-water stromatolites Frutexites Depositional Environment Condensation Red Limestone Black Marl Ferromanganese Crust Phosphate Franconia Alps Jurassic 


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Copyright information

© Institut für Palaentologie, Universitat Erlangen 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Böhm
    • 1
  • Thomas C. Brachert
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für PaläontologieUniversität ErlangenErlangen
  2. 2.Institut für Geowissenschaften-PaläontologieUniversität MainzMainz

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