Microbialites of modern siliciclastic rock coasts

Andrew Cooper, Alan Smith, Gavin Rishworth, Carla Dodd, Matt Forbes, Hayley Cawthra, Callum Anderson

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Contemporary microbialite formation has been documented on rock coasts in a variety of geomorphic, oceanographic, and climatic settings. Based on a synthesis of these diverse occurrences plus new observations, a generalized model is presented. At each locality microbialite development is associated with discharge of mineralized freshwater in the coastal zone. Microbialite formation in the high intertidal and supratidal zones of rock coasts occurs in a variety of sub-environments (cliff face, shore platform surface, platform surface pools, boulder beach, and sand beach) and forms a variety of laminated rock encrustations and oncoids. Allochthonous microbialites occur on the backshore as breccias of reworked microbialite clasts, oncoids transported from rock pools, and partly encrusted boulders. The microbialite-influenced rock coast is a distinct type of siliciclastic environment that offers potential comparison for ancient microbialite occurrences. It has preservation potential in both transgressive and regressive settings. Potential ancient examples are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-634
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sedimentary Research
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is a contribution to NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) project NE/V00834X/1, EPStromNet (Extant Peritidal Stromatolite Network). We are grateful to the Editor, Dr. Gary Hampson and to Dr. Concha Arenas Abad and one anonymous reviewer for helpful comments that have much improved the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright Ó 2022, SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology)


  • Geology


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