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Microbial Carbonates in Space and Time: Implications for Global Exploration and Production

Product Code: SP418
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by D.W.J. Bosence, K.A. Gibbons, D.P. Le Heron, W.A. Morgan, T. Pritchard and B.A. Vining
Publication Date: 20 August 2015
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Special Publication 418

Microbial carbonates (microbialites) are remarkable sedimentary deposits because they have the longest geological range of any type of biogenic limestones, they form in the greatest range of different sedimentary environments, they oxygenated the Earth’s atmosphere, and they produce and store large volumes of hydrocarbons.

This Special Publication provides significant contributions at a pivotal time in our understanding of microbial carbonates, when their economic importance has become established and the results of many research programmes are coming to fruition.

It is the first book to focus on the economic aspects of microbialites and in particular the giant pre-salt discoveries offshore Brazil. In addition it contains papers on the processes involved in formation of both modern and ancient microbialites and the diversity of style in microbial carbonate buildups, structures and fabrics in both marine and non-marine settings and throughout the geological record.

Published online 03/07/2015. Print copies available from 20/08/2015.

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Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 978-1-86239-727-9
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 308
Weight: 0.92 kg



Bosence, D., Gibbons, K., Le Heron, D. P., Morgan, W. A., Pritchard, T. & Vining, B. A. Microbial carbonates in space and time: introduction.

Della Porta, G. Carbonate build-ups in lacustrine, hydrothermal and fluvial settings: comparing depositional geometry, fabric types and geochemical signature.

Corbett, P. & Borghi, L. Microbial carbonates: a sampling and measurement challenge for petrophysics addressed by capturing the Q1 bioarchitectural components.


Winterleitner, G., Le Heron, D. P., Mapani, B., Vining, B. A. & McCaffery, K. J. W. Styles, origins and implications of syndepositional deformation structures in Ediacaran microbial carbonates (Nama Basin, Namibia).

Le Ber, E., Le Heron, & Oxtoby, N. H. Influence of microbial framework on Cryogenian microbial facies, Rasthof Formation, Namibia.

Mettraux, M., Homewood, P., Dos Anjos, C., Erthal, M., Lima, R., Matsuda, N., Souza, A. & Al Balushi, S. Microbial communities and their primary to early diagenetic mineral phases; the record from Neoproterozoic microbialites of Qarn Alam, Oman.


Aurell, M. & Bádenas, B. Facies architecture of a microbial–siliceous sponge-dominated carbonate platform: the Bajocian of Moscardón (Middle Jurassic, Spain).

Buckley, J. P., Bosence, D. & Elders, C. Tectonic setting and stratigraphic architecture of an Early Cretaceous lacustrine carbonate platform, Sugar Loaf High, Santos Basin, Brazil.

Rezende, M. F. & Pope, M. C. Importance of depositional texture in pore characterization of subsalt microbialite carbonates, offshore Brazil.

Wright, V. P. & Barnett, A. J. An abiotic model for the development of textures in some South Atlantic early Cretaceous lacustrine carbonates.

Muniz, M. C. & Bosence, D. W. J. Pre-salt microbialites from the Campos Basin (offshore Brazil): image log facies, facies model and cyclicity in lacustrine carbonates.



Bahniuk, A., McKEnzie, J. A., Perri, E., Bontognali, T. R. R., Vögeli, N., Rezende, C. E., Rangel, T. P. & Vasconcelos, C. Characterization of environmental conditions during microbial Mg-carbonate precipitation and early diagenetic dolomite crust formation: Brejo do Espinho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Chidsey Jr, T. C., Vanden Berg, M. D. & Eby, D. E. Petrography and characterization of microbial carbonates and associated facies from modern Great Salt Lake and Uinta Basin’s Eocene Green River Formation in Utah, USA.

Warthmann, R. J., Camoin, G., McKenzie, J. A. & Vasconcelos, C. Geomicrobiology of carbonate microbialites in the Tahiti reef.


Jack Stavey

Featured in Geoscientist 26/7 August 2016

This Special Publication not only succeeds in compiling a diverse range of 14 papers on the economic importance of microbialites; it also manages to place such deposits in a context that those with a background in carbonate sedimentology can appreciate.

A pleasantly surprising inclusion is that of work on seismic and core from the Campos Basin microbialite discoveries.

Overall, the quality of the publication is excellent, with most figures reproduced in colour. Each paper is well written with clear, engaging illustrations. Of particular note is a paper on Ediacaran microbial carbonates, which contains eye-catching annotated field photographs and schematic models that are a joy to read.

This comprehensive SP is an ideal starting point for anyone interested in microbial carbonates. It effectively summarises the combined knowledge of academia and industry, and is applicable to both. At present, most readers will be postgraduates already involved in related studies. However, in the future this book will become increasingly relevant to undergraduates as frontier microbialite plays become the norm in the oil and gas industry. This work will undoubtedly pave the way for exciting developments in our understanding of a long overlooked section of carbonate sedimentology.

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