Sedimentology, palaeontology and diagenesis of the Much Wenlock limestone formation
Lithofacies distribution indicates that the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation of England and South Wales was desposited on a shelf which was flat and gently subsiding in the north, but topographically variable in the south. Limestone deposition in the north began with 12m of alga-rich limestone, which formed an upward shoaling sequence. Deepening then led to deposition of calcareous silty mudstones on the northern shelf. The remainder of the formation in this area formed during a shelf-wide regression, culminating in the production of an E to W younging sandbody. Lithofacies distribution on the southern shelf was primarily controlled by local subsidence. Six bedded lithofacies are recognised which contain 14 brachiopod/bryozoan dominated assemblages, of which 11 are in situ and three consist of reworked fossils. Microfacies analysis is necessary to distinguish assemblages which reflect original communities from those which reflect sedimentary processes. Turbulence, substrate-type, ease of feeding and other organisms in the environment controlled faunal distribution. Reefs were built dominantly by corals, stromatoporoids, algae and crinoids. Coral/stromatoporoid (Type A) reefs are common, particularly on the northern shelf, where they formed in response to shallowing, ultimately growing in front of the advancing carbonate sandbody. Algae dominate Type B and Type C reefs, reflecting growth in areas of poor water circulation. Lithification of the formation began in the marine-phreatic environment with precipitation of aragonite and high Mg calcite, which was subsequently altered to turbid low Mg calcite. Younger clear spars post-date secondary void formation. The pre-compactional clear spars have features which resemble the products of meteoric water diagenesis, but freshwater did not enter the formation at this time. The pre-compactional spars were precipitated by waters forced from the surrounding silty mudstones at shallow burial depths. Late diagenetic products are stylolites, compaction fractures and burial cements.