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ABSTRACT

Carbonate buildups in the Flinders Ranges of mid-Early Cambrian age grew during a period of high archaeocyath diversity and are of two types: (1) low-energy, archaeocyath-sponge-spicule mud mounds, and (2) high-energy, archaeocyath-calcimicrobe (calcified microbial microfossil) bioherms. Mud mounds are composed of red carbonate mudstone and sparse to abundant archaeocyath floatstone, have a fenestral fabric, display distinct stromatactis, contain abundant sponge spicules and form structures up to 150m wide and 80 m thick. Bioherms are either red or dark grey limestone and occur as isolated small structures 2–20 m in size surrounded by cross-bedded calcarenites and calcirudites or as complexes of mounds and carbonate sands several hundreds of metres across. Red bioherms comprise masses of white Epiphyton with scattered archaeocyaths and intervening areas of archaeocyath-rich lime mudstone. Grey bioherms are complex intergrowths of archaeocyaths, encrusting dark grey Renalcis and thick rinds of fibrous calcite cement. The bioherms were prone to synsedimentary fracturing and exhibit large irregular cavities, up to 1.5 m across, lined with fibrous calcite.

The buildups are isolated or in contiguous vertical succession. Mud mounds occur alone in low-energy, frequently nodular, limestone facies. Individual bioherms and bioherm complexes occur in high-energy on-shelf and shelf-margin facies. The two types also form large-scale, shallowing-upward sequences composed of basal (deep water) mud mounds grading upward into archaeocyath-calcimicrobe bioherm complexes and bioherms in cross-bedded carbonate sands. The uppermost sequence is capped by ooid grainstone and/ or fenestral to stromatolitic mudstone.

The calcimicrobe and metazoan associations form the two major biotic elements which were to dominate reefs throughout much of subsequent Phanerozoic time.