Heterozoan carbonates in subtropical to tropical settings in the present and past

Water temperature has received considerable attention as steering factor for the genesis of different types of marine carbonate sediments. However, parameters other than temperature also strongly influence ecosystems and, consequently, the carbonate grain associations in the resulting carbonate rock. Among those factors are biological evolution, water energy, substrate, water chemistry, light penetration, trophic conditions, CO2 concentrations, and Mg/Ca ratios in the seawater. Increased nutrient levels in warm-water settings, for example, lead to heterotrophic-dominated associations that are characteristic of temperate to cool-water carbonates. Failure to recognize the influence of such environmental factors that shift the grain associations towards heterotrophic communities in low latitudes can lead to misinterpretation of climatic conditions in the past. Modern analogues of low-latitude heterozoan carbonates help to recognize and understand past occurrences of heterozoan warm-water carbonates. Careful analysis of such sediments therefore is required in order to achieve robust reconstructions of past climate.

Westphal, H., Halfar, J., & Freiwald, A., 2010. Heterozoan carbonates in subtropical to tropical settings in the present and past. International Journal of Earth Sciences 99(1): 153-159. Article (subscription required).


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