Tidal flat associations from a Lower Proterozoic carbonate sequence in South Africa



An association of structures is documented from a Lower Proterozoic carbonate sequence in South Africa: this is dominated by finely laminated material which may display flat (smooth), small domical (blister), crinkled (tufted) and pustular (mamillate) surface. The lamination may display overfolded structures and contain flat encapsulated features. Lens-like flat-pebble breccias are common, while edgewise breccias were seen less frequently. Small-scale features suggestive of vertical algal moulds were also recorded. This facies is considered to be analogous to contemporary tidal flat sedimentation developed in specific settings at Shark Bay in Western Australia, and at Abu Dhabi where it is the dominant growth form. This analogy is most notably clear in relation to the protected embayments at Shark Bay, and as a result, an inner intertidal to marginal supratidal environment is suggested for the specific horizons under consideration from the Transvaal Dolomite.

Other structures are associated with this facies. These include larger domes, coarser bedding, oolites, ripple-marks and, in one case, columnar stromatolites. Using the basic facies as an environmental datum, a model is developed in which these latter structures extend into the outer intertidal zone. They are also considered to be associated with varying states of turbulence in the intertidal regime.