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ABSTRACT

Laminar calcretes are described from the Lower Carboniferous of South Wales, the Upper Jurassic of southern England and the Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous of northern Spain. They are interpreted as calcified root-mats (horizontal root systems) and are compared with other examples in the geological record and with possible modern analogues. All three occurrences consist of virtually identical, centimetre to decimetre-thick, locally organic carbon-rich, laminar micrites containing up to 50% by volume of millimetre-sized typically calcite-filled, tubular fenestrae set in an irregular but very finely laminated matrix. It is suggested that root-mat calcretes are probably very common in the geological record in peritidal, lacustrine margin and floodplain deposits, but owing to their crudely biogenic microstructure, they more closely resemble cryptalgal laminites than do other laminar calcretes. The recognition of such root-mat calcretes in sedimentary sequences not only provides evidence of subaerial exposure and vegetation cover but can also indicate positions of palaeo-water-tables in certain circumstances.