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ABSTRACT

It is often assumed that layering in many shelf and platform limestones at weathered outcrop is always bedding: the layers always beds, and the surfaces always bedding planes. Recognition of bedding is fundamental to facies and basin analysis.

Examination of part of the Lower Carboniferous High Tor Limestone of the Gower, South Wales, shows that a totally diagenetic layering (pseudo-bedding) resembling, and parallel to primary depositional layering (true bedding), has been produced by the generation of parallel, more or less evenly-spaced stylolite surfaces during burial diagenesis. These stylolite surfaces are picked out by weathering at outcrop and resemble bedding planes. Evidence that the stylolite surfaces do not mark original bedding planes includes: a cross-cutting relationship of a stylolite surface to a primary bedding surface; lack of lithological change across, or sedimentary structures associated with, a stylolite surface; original bedding that is not coincident with stylolite surfaces and has not suffered pressure-dissolution; and lack of sedimentological evidence that the layers defined by the stylolite surfaces are true primary depositional beds. The generation of parallel and more or less evenly-spaced stylolite surfaces could be explained by a mathematical-kinetic model based on the relationship between pressure-dissolution, diffusion, and reprecipitation.

Recognition of true bedding depends upon presence of lithological changes and/or sedimentary structures. It is suggested that pseudo-bedding could be confused with true bedding in some open platform/shelf lagoon facies where lithological changes or sedimentary structures are scarce or absent.