Paleoalgology pp 216-225 | Cite as

The “Coralligène” of the Mediterranean — a Recent Analog for Tertiary Coralline Algal Limestones

  • D. W. J. Bosence


During the 1950’s and 1960’s, considerable work was undertaken by French biologists and geologists on the nature of Recent coralline algal buildups (“coralligène”) of the Mediterranean. Much of this work is summarized in Pérès (1967), Blanc (1968), and Laborel (1961). The best known example of the “coralligène” is the intertidal “trottoir” or “corniche” constructed principally of Lithophyllum tortuosum on steep rocky coasts (Blanc and Molinier 1955, Laborel 1961). Similarly, large coralline buildups occur on sublittoral rocky slopes (Laborel 1961). The coralligène de plateau, the subject of this paper, occurs in deeper shelf waters and passes laterally into carbonate sands and gravels or terrigenous sands and muds (Laborel 1961). This coralligdne is found widely distributed in the Mediterranean between depths of 20 to 160 m. The shallow occurrences of 30–50 m at Marseille and of 20–40 m at Banyuls (see below) are in more turbid coastal waters. Examples at 100–160 m are found in the southern Mediterranean (Pérès 1967). The corallines involved in construction of the coralligène are Mesophyllum lichenoides, Pseudolithophyllum expansum, Neogoniolithon mamillosum and Lithothamnium philippii. Three modes of growth have been recognized in these corallines by Laborel (1961): (1) foliaceous (feulléte), bifurcating thalli of M. lichenoides, L. philippii and P. expansum; (2) branching (fructiculeux), thick, adherent crusts of N. mamillosum and (3) thin, closely layered (concentrique) thalli of P. expansum. Laborel (1961) also describes the growth cycle for the coralligène de plateau of shelly gravel and rhodolith accumulation, stabilization by encrusting corallines, crustose coralline construction, bioerosion, and collapse.


Coralline Alga Internal Sediment Reef Framework Reef Rock Algal Limestone 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. W. J. Bosence
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of London, Goldsmiths’ CollegeDeptford, LondonGreat Britain

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