Equatorial Palaeotethys as the last sanctuary for late Permian metazoan reef-builders: New evidence from the Bellerophon Formation of Slovenia
Sremac et al
The rise and demise of warm-temperate Permian reefs and biostromes reflect the complex geologic history of this dynamic period. Environments suitable for reef-builders were devastated by the Guadalupian/Lopingian crisis, and Lopingian reefs have only been recorded at a small number of localities. The uppermost Permian limestones of the Bellerophon Formation, on the Vojsko Plateau (Slovenia), contain small, lenticular biostromes within a bioclastic wackestone/packstone lithofacies. The major biostrome builders are medium-sized coralline sponges (Demospongea and Calcarea), encrusted by smaller sponges, tube worms, sessile foraminifera, calcareous algae (Archaeolithoporella) and Shamovella (i.e., Tubiphytes), all of which are typically covered by microbial crusts. The biostromes are characteristically composed of bafflestone and bindstone, incorporating sporadic framestone. Narrow belts of floatstone surround the buildups, and sponge debris is also present in lenses within the mud matrix between metazoan bafflestones. The fossils are generally well-preserved, although the fine skeletal microstructure has been partially recrystallized. Sponges are heavily calcified, and ontogenic thickening of the skeleton can be observed in some encrusters. Framboidal pyrite, forming thin films on the inner walls of sponge chambers, suggests the presence of sulphate-reducing bacteria. These microbial symbionts may have enabled the sponges to survive in the anoxic marine environments of the uppermost Permian. The Changshingian sponge biostromes of the Vojsko Plateau represent the westernmost known occurrence of contemporary metazoan boundstones in the Palaeotethys.