About This Item

Share This Item

The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Journal of Sedimentary Research (SEPM)


Journal of Sedimentary Research
Vol. 85 (2015), No. 10. (October), Pages 1275-1291
Research Articles

Composition and Genesis of Temperate, Shallow-Marine Carbonate Muds: Spencer Gulf, South Australia

Laura G. O'Connell, Noel P. James


The origin of carbonate muds (grain sizes < 63 µm) in shallow, nontropical marine environments is poorly documented. Coarse-grained carbonates often characterize coastal temperate seafloors, but many such deposits also have abundant carbonate muds. Spencer Gulf, a large, shallow embayment along the southern Australian margin (< 60 m water depth), contains mixtures of carbonate gravels, sands, and muds, with muds constituting up to 84% volumetrically. Benthic environments include dense seagrass meadows, sand barrens, and rhodolith pavements where bivalves, benthic foraminifera, coralline algae, and bryozoans dominate heterozoan carbonate assemblages. Mud grain morphologies were investigated using scanning electron microscopy, leading to the conclusion that muds are predominantly composed of skeletal fragments (bivalves, benthic foraminifera, ascidians, echinoderms, and coralline algae), interpreted to have formed due to breakdown of rigid material via maceration. X-ray diffraction analysis confirms that these muds contain combinations of intermediate-Mg calcite, low-Mg calcite, and aragonite; with concentrations varying among locations according to skeletal grain types. Spencer Gulf muds differ in mineralogy and composition from those of classic models of tropical and deep-water carbonate mud deposition. Unlike shallow-water, tropical carbonate muds, these temperate muds are not dominated by aragonite and there is no evidence of carbonate precipitation from seawater. Pelagic organisms contribute only trivial amounts to these deposits, in contrast to deep-water muds.

Pay-Per-View Purchase Options

The article is available through a document delivery service. Explain these Purchase Options.

Watermarked PDF Document: $14
Open PDF Document: $24