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Edgecliff Reefs--Devonian Temperate Water Carbonate Deposition

WOLOSZ, THOMAS H., SUNY College at Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, NY

The Middle Devonian Edgecliff Member of the Onondaga Formation in New York and Ontario, Canada, is a coral-rich, "reefy," crinoidal grainstone/packstone. The reefs contain only rare stromatoporoids and are devoid of algae, having been constructed by a fauna of mound and thicket-forming branching colonial rugosans, and large sheet favositids that populated grainstone/packstone flank beds and banks. Despite the restricted fauna, the reefs display a variety of growth patterns. Rugosan mounds range in size from 2-3 m diameter by 1 m thick, up to 230 m diameter by 15 m thick. Composite structures consist of interbedded rugosan buildups and packstone/grainstone flanks, ranging from shield-shaped reefs (240 m diameter by 6 m thick) in which the rugosans occur only as thickets, to pinnacle re fs (up to 3 km diameter by 60 m thick) in which rugosan mounds are interbedded with crinoidal flanks. Geographic distribution of these reef types and analysis of surrounding facies suggests that reef growth pattern was contolled by water depth and local rate of subsidence.

Despite superficial resemblance to modern deep water ahermatypic coral mounds and thickets, abundant coral breakage and overturning, and erosion of at least one reef core during an intermediate stage of reef growth supports a shallow water origin of these reefs. It is suggested that the Edgecliff and its reefs represent an example of Devonian cool water carbonate deposition, a hypothesis supported by a trend of increasing stromatoporoid abundance westwards across New York (in the direction of the paleo-equator).


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)