Danian cool-water coral reefs in southern Scandinavia localised over seafloor highs

Morten Bjerager, Finn Surlyk, Holger Lykke-Andersen, Nicolas Thibault, Lars Stemmerik

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    Danian (Paleocene) reefs formed by ahermatypic scleractinian corals in relatively deep water are known in a few localities in southern Scandinavia. Reflection and shallow seismic profiles, and samples from drilling and scuba diving in bridge pier excavations in Øresund, the strait between Denmark and Sweden, for the first time allow interpretation of the factors that controlled the localisation of the reefs. After the mass-extinction at the K/T boundary, reef-building scleractinian corals were absent in the Boreal early Danian in the Danish basin. Faunal evolution after the biotic crisis and a rise in relative sea level are interpreted to have favoured formation of deep-water coral reefs in the Øresund region in mid-Danian time. The reefs were 6-20 m high and 20-200 m long on the seafloor and have a patchy distribution within a bryozoan mound-dominated setting in an area of about 10 km 2. They are composed of the framework-building ahermatypic scleractinian coral Dendrophyllia candelabrum with minor occurrences of bryozoans, echinoderms, gastropods and bivalves. It has been suspected that the reefs were located over contemporaneous seafloor highs but this notion was only based on comparison with similar modern deep-water reefs offshore Norway. The data from Øresund indicate that the Danian reef complex was formed over a late Maastrichtian palaeo-seafloor high, the Saltholm-Malmø High, supporting this interpretation and thus adding fundamentally to the understanding of the factors controlling the formation and localisation of these deep and cool-water coral reefs. Individual reefs were initiated and grew on eroded crests and steep south-dipping flanks of bryozoan mounds and were predominantly situated on the southern part of the high and are interpreted as growing towards NW-flowing bottom currents rich in particulate nutrients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)455-466
    Number of pages12
    JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

    Programme Area

    • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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