Distribution and evolution of Carboniferous reefs in South China
Yao et al
Reefs are sensitive proxies for palaeontological, palaeoenvironmental, and palaeogeographical changes during geological history. In South China, after the collapse of the reef ecosystem during the Frasnian-Famennian and Hangenberg mass extinction events, Carboniferous reefs underwent evolutionary episodes of recovery, decline, and turnover, which were controlled by changes of reef-builders abundance, sedimentary facies, relative sea level, and even global climate. In Tournaisian times, only a few Waulsortian-like banks have been found in Liuzhou, Guangxi without metazoan reefs, which were caused by the lack of reef-builders, such as colonial rugose corals and bryozoans, and the dominant non-carbonate facies (shale, mud stone and sandstone) driven by low relative sea level. The absence of mud mounds in the early Viséan was attributed to the regression event during the Tournaisian-Viséan boundary. During Viséan times, bryozoan-coral reefs in Huishui, Guizhou and Tianlin, Guangxi occurred during a time of increasing biodiversity and carbonate facies resulting from relative sea-level rise. The number of potential reef-builders as colonial rugose coral and bryozoan genera significantly increased in Viséan times in South China. The reef abundance declined during Serpukhovian times in South China and the controlling factors were decreasing abundance of potential reef-builders and developing non-carbonate facies due to a relative sea-level fall. The sedimentary facies were characterized by shale, mud stone, sandstone, and dolostone during this time. A distinct change in reef types occurred after the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian boundary, when phylloid algae and red algae reefs (distributed in Ziyun, Guizhou and Beibuwan, Guangxi) replaced metazoan reefs and became the dominant role in reef ecosystem. This reef turnover event may be triggered by the dramatic relative sea-level fall during the mid-Carboniferous, and continued low relative sea level in South China and global flourish of phylloid and red algae during Pennsylvanian times. Grainstone and dolomitic limestone were the main composition of the platform sedimentary facies in South China during Pennsylvanian times. In addition, global climate cooling and warming, resulted from the waxing and waning of Gondwana glaciation, may also influence the reef evolution in South China, as evidenced from the consistent transgression and regression events and reef evolutionary pattern between South China and globe during the Carboniferous.