SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous sponge biostromes and bafflestone mounds were common and widespread in European temperate to tropical marine environments. They declined markedly during the Late Cretaceous. Most sponge frameworks were paucispecific and ecologically simple, with only basic levels of succession or tiering. The occurrence of ecologically complex, lithistid sponge biostromes and mounds in the Cenomanian Quadersandstein Member, Regensburger Grünsandstein of the Saal Quarry, Bavaria, is therefore of special significance. These are ecologically the most complex sponge frameworks yet reported from the Cretaceous. Their size, morphology and ecological organization compare favorably with shallow-water, sponge-dominated frameworks in modern seas. The Saal Quarry sponge frameworks are generally associated with firmgrounds and condensed intervals in the transgressive systems tract of the Cenomanian-Turonian, tectonoeustatic supercycle UZA-2. The lowest sponge frameworks are up to 1 m high bafflestone mounds consisting of large, irregular, sheet- and mound-like recumbent sponges overlain by diverse, cylindrical, pyriform, upward-branching forms of Jerea and Siphonia. These biostromes overlie a condensed interval or firmground which locally contains small, in situ pyriform sponges (Jerea pyriformis Lamouroux) as well as Middle Cenomanian Inoceramus etheridgei Woods. The upper sponge frameworks consist of bafflestone mounds up to 4.4 m wide and 1.3 m high, composed of six lithistid sponge morphotypes, possibly representing several species of Jerea and Siphonia. The occurrence of Rotalipora cushmanni in strata overlying the upper sponge framework indicates a Late Cenomanian age. Morphotypes preserve internal sponge morphologies and partially dissolved spicules surrounded by a diagenetic halo of silicified, pelletoid grainstone and/or packstone. Silica cements were derived from spicule dissolution. Different combinations of these morphotypes dominate three to four successional stages of sponge framework growth, and show vertical ecological tiering within communities. This ecological zonation is consistent among frameworks, and is partially or wholly repeated between storm-related disturbance events.