Foreslope stromatoporoid-renalcid bioherm with evidence of early cementation, Devonian Ancient Wall reef complex, Rocky Mountains



A small mound, 4 × 23 m in size, on the fore-reef slope of the Ancient Wall reef complex at Mount Haultain, Alberta, consists of fenestral, renalcid micrite and wackestone. Stromatoporoids are the most abundant skeletal component but do not form an organic framework. Renalcids, together with early micrite cementation, performed a supporting and stabilizing role but only rarely directly encrusted skeletal material. Many of the primary shelter voids, interparticle voids and fenestrae were filled with internal sediments and submarine micrite cements. A considerable proportion of the micrite matrix appears to be cement.

The location and development of the bioherm was controlled by a local hard substrate and suitable environmental conditions. The mound developed on and around a large block within an underlying megabreccia bed soon after it was deposited in a debris flow on the fore-reef slope. It formed near wave base in about 30–50 m water depth and was subject to gentle current action. Laminar stromatoporoids grew on the flanks and top of the mound, and fenestral, renalcid micrite and wackestone accumulated in the central part. Deepening water and increased rates of mud accumulation terminated further build-up of the bioherm and it was buried by basin mud.

Fenestral, renalcid micrite occurs in a number of Devonian and Lower Palaeozoic organic mounds. This study suggests that early, submarine cementation was a significant factor in the development and preservation of this distinctive lithotype.