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Keywords:

  • Bryozoa;
  • Upper Ordovician;
  • Ashgill;
  • Gondwana;
  • mud-mounds;
  • cool-water carbonates;
  • Hirnantian glaciation

Abstract:  A bryozoan fauna from carbonate mud-mounds is described from subsurface well cores from the Upper Ordovician (Lower Ashgill) Jifarah (Djeffara) Formation of Tripolitania, north-west Libya. Among a diverse assemblage dominated by trepostomes, nine species of bryozoans are identified, including Jifarahpora libyensis gen. et sp. nov. Delicate and robust branching, encrusting and nodular bryozoan growth forms are all common. The bryozoan-rich limestones are mostly mudstones and wackestones, with bafflestone and floatstone textures, but the mounds apparently lack organic framework and microbial fabrics. Regional geophysical data indicate rapid thickness changes between wells, where mound complexes locally up to 100 m thick had limited topographic relief over the surrounding sea floor. The mounds formed in a high-latitude, cool-water carbonate belt that extended widely across the northern margin of Gondwana. Quaternary analogues from the Great Australian Bight suggest that these early Ashgill mounds may have developed in slope environments during an episode of glacial lowstand that preceded the late Ashgill, Hirnantian glacial event.