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Sponge-microbial build-ups from the lowermost Triassic Chanakhchi section in southern Armenia: Microfacies and stable carbon isotopes

  • Evelyn Friesenbichler
  • Sylvain Richoz
  • Aymon Baud
  • Leopold Krystyn
  • Lilit Sahakyan
  • Sargis Vardanyan
  • Jörn Peckmann
  • Joachim Reitner
  • Katrin Heindel
Publishing year: 2018-01-01
Language: English
Pages: 653-672
Publication/Series: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Volume: 490
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The end-Permian mass extinction was the most severe biotic crisis in Earth's history. In its direct aftermath
microbial communities colonized some of the space left vacant after the severe decline of skeletal metazoans.
The Permian-Triassic boundary microbialites were peculiarly abundant on low-latitude shallow-marine carbonate
shelves of central Tethyan continents. Armenia features particularly well preserved and diverse basal
Triassic sponge-microbial build-ups (BTSMBs), which were not studied in detail to date. Here, the Chanakhchi
section in southern Armenia is described petrographically and by means of stable isotope analyses. The
Armenian BTSMBs formed in a distally open marine setting on a pelagic carbonate ramp in the course of two
phases of microbial growth during the Induan (Lower Triassic). The BTSMBs are represented by predominantly
thrombolitic but also dendrolitic and digitate stromatolite biostromes and mounds that vary in height between
5 cm to 12 m. The digitate stromatolites are associated with calcium carbonate crystal fans (CCFs). Microfacies
analyses revealed that the BTSMBs exhibit a number of different growth forms and internal fabrics. The formation
of CCFs was apparently not devoid of biological influence and took place above the sediment surface. The
abundance of sponges in the BTSMBs reveals that ecologically complex metazoan-microbial reefs have been
present already early after the end-Permian mass extinction. However, the formation of biostromes and mounds
did not depend on sponges or other metazoans. BTSMBs that formed during the second microbial growth phase
revealed similar δ13C-values like the surrounding sediment. In contrast, the δ13Cmicrobialite and δ13Csediment values
from the BTSMBs and CCFs of the first growth phase show a difference of up to +2.3‰, suggesting a significant
influence of photoautotrophy during microbially induced carbonate precipitation.


  • Geology


  • ISSN: 0031-0182
Sylvain Richoz
E-mail: sylvain [dot] richoz [at] geol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Lithosphere and Biosphere Science

+46 46 222 78 89

Sölvegatan 12, Lund