The carbonate factory of Middle Triassic buildups in the Dolomites, Italy: a quantitative analysis



Middle Triassic carbonate buildups of the Dolomites were high in relief (500–1000m) and small in size (one to a few square kilometres in area). A paradox results from the carbonate platform model that invokes the platform top, including reef rims, as the carbonate factory and flanking beds as talus deposits. Most buildups consist largely of clinoforms (inclined at 10-50°) whereas massive reef rocks and stratified buildup interiors are poorly developed or absent. Facies and modal analysis of 323 thin sections from buildups of the Marmolada indicate that clinoforms are: (i) predominantly composed of in situ boundstones (56% of all samples); (ii) primarily made up of early cements (37 vol.%), microbial crusts (17 vol.%), micritic intraclasts (10 vol.%) and Tubiphytes (8 vol.%); and (iii) contain diagnostic shallow water grains (dasyclads, coated grains) that are less abundant by 1-2 orders of magnitude compared with buildup interior facies. These data suggest that the clinoforms themselves were the main carbonate factory of the Triassic buildups. Stratified buildup interior rocks and massive reef rocks were apparently not a prerequisite for buildup growth and clinoform progradation.