Facies characteristics and diversity in carbonate eolianites

Frébourg, Gregory ; Hasler, Claude-Alain ; Le Guern, Pierre ; Davaud, Eric

In: Facies, 2008, vol. 54, no. 2, p. 175-191

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    Carbonate eolian dunes can form huge sand bodies along the coasts but are seldom described in the pre-Quaternary record. The study of more than 600 thin-sections collected in present-day, Holocene and Pleistocene dunes from Sardinia, Crete, Cyprus, Tunisia, Morocco, Australia and Baja California confirms that these deposits can be easily misinterpreted as shallow marine at core or thin-section scale. The classical eolian criteria (fine-grained and well-sorted sands) are exceptional in carbonate dunes because the diversity of shapes and densities of carbonate particles lowers the critical shear velocity of the sediment thus blurring the sedimentary structures. Wind carbonate deposits are mainly heterogeneous in size and often coarse-grained. The paucity of eolianites in the pre-Quaternary record could be due to misinterpretation of these deposits. The recognition should be based on converging sedimentological and stratigraphic elements at core scale, and diagenetic (vadose diagenesis, pedogenetic imprints) and petrographical (grain verticalization, scarcity of micritic envelopes, broken and/or reworked foraminifera) clues in thin-section. Bioclastic or oolitic grainstones showing evidence of vadose diagenesis or pedogenetic imprints, should always be suspected of having an eolian origin