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Modern estuarine siliceous spiculites, Tasmania, Australia: A non-polar link to Phanerozoic spiculitic cherts


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Barrett, NS and Hirst, AJ and Reid, Catherine (2008) Modern estuarine siliceous spiculites, Tasmania, Australia: A non-polar link to Phanerozoic spiculitic cherts. Geology, 36 (2). pp. 107-110. ISSN 0091-7613

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Biosiliceous sedimentary rocks are well known from the geologic record and many are correctly interpreted to have formed in deepwater or cold-water environments. Shallow non-polar spiculites are also known from the rock record, yet no modern analog has been documented for such environments. Bathurst Harbour, an estuarine system in southwest Tasmania, provides this much-needed modern analog. In this system a sharp halocline separates tannin-rich low-salinity surface waters from clear marine bottom waters. Tannins supply few nutrients and substantially reduce light penetration to bottom environments, resulting in a thinned photic zone and the mixing of deeper-water subphotic biotas of soft corals, bryozoans, and sponges with other organisms more typical of this temperate shallow-water environment. The well-defi ned halocline allows a typically marine biota, including echinoderms, to live in bottom waters of this estuarine setting. The bio clastic factory, producing both carbonate and siliceous particles, exists in marine subphotic bottom waters of incised channel and shallow rocky environments along the shoreline. Extensive organic-rich soft sediments in protected embayments generate few bioclasts, but contain allochthonous sponge spicules transported from the adjacent bioclastic factory. Trapping of organic material within the estuarine system lowers sediment pH and promotes dissolution of carbonate biofragments, resulting in preferential preservation of siliceous sponge spicules. This situation implies that many biosiliceous neritic deposits in the rock record may be the result of similar preferential preservation.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Australia, spiculite, estuarine, chert, biosiliceous
Journal or Publication Title: Geology
Page Range: pp. 107-110
ISSN: 0091-7613
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1130/G24333A.1
Additional Information: © 2008 The Geological Society of America.
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2010 23:15
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:15
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