Probable influence of geography on the development and
global distribution of Tournasian-early Visean age
(Waulsortian and Waulsorian-like) mud mounds

David T. King, Jr.
Department of Geology, Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849-5305 U.S.A.


Tournasian-early Visean mud mounds (i.e., Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds) are unlike other carbonate buildups in the stratigraphic record because they lack an identifiable frame-building organism. Waulsortian mounds are comprised mainly of carbonate mud; Waulsortian-like mounds are mud-rich and contain a significant percent of skeletal grains, especially crinoids and bryozoa. This study has revealed that all of the reported Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds developed in low paleolatitudes either on the southern shelf margin of the Laurussian paleocontinent or in the Laurussian interior seaway. Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds are specifically not present in low-latitude regions of other paleocontinents. As Tournasian-early Visean carbonate deposition was widespread in the range of 30 degrees north to 10 degrees south, the very restricted paleogeographic distribution of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound locations suggests a mechanism or set of conditions which effectively limited the distribution of mud mounds. While considering the Tournasian-early Visean distribution of paleocontinents and the applying principles which govern the movement of modern hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter storms, this paper shows that the tracks of hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter storms probably corssed all main submerged paleocontinental areas except the southern Laurussian shelf margin and the Laurussian interior seaway, the two areas where mud mounds developed. This paper suggests that lack of storm energy in these two large areas of Laurussia provided long- term stability and thus enhanced the growth prospects of the frame-deficient Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mud mounds. Lack of extensive, periodic wave reworking and other storm- induced devastation helps to account for enigmatic features such as general mound symmetry, great size, high depositional relief (as much as 220 m), and side steepness (as steep as 50 degrees).


Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like carbonate mud-rich mounds (called "reef mounds" by some; e.g., James, 1984) contain pelmatazoan crinoids, fenestellid bryozoans, Stromatactis, and various minor allochemical constituents, but lack a frame-building organism (James, 1984). These mounds were the only type of organic buildup known to have formed during the period of strongly suppressed reef building that followed the Late Devonian collapse of the reef-building biotic community. Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds are limited to early Carboniferous strata ranging in age from earliest Tournaisian (Tn1) (Smith, 1982) to early Visean (V1a) (Lane, 1978; Lees, Hallet, & Hibo, 1985; see also papers in Bolton, Lane, & LeMone, 1982). Mid- to late Visean, Namurian, and younger Carboniferous mounds contain frame-building organisms such as corals, bryozoans, and algae (Heckel, 1974; West, 1988) and thus these non-Waulsortian mounds are excluded from consideration in this paper. Although some authors regard all Tournaisian-early Visean mounds as "Waulsortian," herein I distinguish Waulsortian mounds and Waulsortian-like mounds on the basis of some compositional and structural differences between the two mound groups (see also discussion in Lees & Miller, 1985; Miller, 1986).

Waulsortian mounds occur in several sites in western Europe (Belgium, Ireland, southern Wales, and northern, central, and southern England) and in at least two sites in North America (Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico and Big Snowy Mountains of Montana; Lees & Miller, 1985; Miller, 1986). Waulsortian-like mounds occur at many locations along the coeval Burlington-Lake Valley shelf margin that extended from the midwestern U.S. (Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas) and through the southwestern U.S. (Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona) (Gutschick & Sandberg, 1983; Lane, 1984). Waulsortian-like mounds are also known from sites in the central Montana trough (Smith, 1982; Precht & Shepard, 1989), the Williston basin of North Dakota and adjacent Manitoba (Davies, Edwards, & Flach, 1989), and the Peace River embayment of Alberta and adjacent British Columbia (Davies et al., 1989).

The nature and origin of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds have been topics of interest and discussion for more than 125 years (Miller, 1986). A compelling reason for the interest in Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds is their uniqueness in the geological reef record owing to their total lack of a frame-building organism (James, 1984). Currently, there are three main theories to explain the probable origin of these mounds. The lithoherm theory enlists penecontemporaneous cementation as a key agent in mound formation (Neumann et al., 1977) and suggests that modern lithoherms in the Straits of Florida are at least partial analogues for Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds. A proposed microbial origin for mounds calls on organic films and filaments to stabilize and support the carbonate mud during mound development (Miller, 1986). An origin of the mounds by "baffling" or trapping of carbonate fines within stands of crinoids and bryozoa has been proposed to account for some of the Waulsortian-like mounds which contain a relatively high skeletal fossil content (e.g., King, 1986). It is also likely that two or all three of the proposed mechanisms listed above acted in concert to produce some mounds (Pratt, 1982; James, 1984; Brown & Dodd, 1990).

The petrology and paleontology of most important mounds have been well documented (see citations in West, 1988), but a comprehensive understanding of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound origin awaits further research. As a contribution toward further understanding of mound development from a global perspective, I discuss herein Tournaisian-early Visean (ca. 360- 348 Ma; Ross & Ross, 1987) geography and the probable influence of that paleogeography on paleo-storm tracks relative to the formation of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mud mounds.


Waulsortian mounds are composed predominantly of carbonate mud and include a subordinate amount of allochemical debris (Lees et al., 1985). In contrast, Waulsortian-like mounds are composed of a wider diversity of allochemical constituents than the European Waulsortian mounds (Miller, 1986) and comprise a carbonate mud- rich core and surrounding flank beds that are generally rich in pelmatazoan crinoid debris (Wilson, 1975). Both Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds lack fossil evidence of a frame-building organism (James, 1984).

Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds occur in association with downslope sedimentary facies that include cherty limestones, basinal carbonates and shales, and resedimented carbonate-debris facies (Wilson, 1975; King, 1986), and the mounds are universally interpreted as regional shelf-margin and foreslope features (e.g., see papers in Bolton et al., 1982). Whereas most Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds were several metres high, individual mounds in New Mexico attained depositional relief as great as 105 m (Lane, 1984) and, in Belgium, 220 m (Lees et al., 1985). Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds are generally symmetrical; the mounds are crudely layered and may have steep sides (as much as 50 degree slopes) (Wilson, 1975).

Lees et al. (1985) and others have noted that Belgian Waulsortian mounds evolved through four depth-related stages. The initial stage is rich in pelmatazoan crinoids and fenestellid bryozoans and developed at depths that were probably aphotic. The upper stages are all mud rich and are distinguished by differences in the relative abundances of several minor allochemical constituents. The partitioning of allochems among the depth-related stages is related most strongly to differences in photic level rather than to differences in physical energy (data in Lees et al., 1985). The uppermost stage of many Belgian mounds contains a minor component of coated grains and calcareous algae suggesting the influence of shallow-water depositional conditions. In Waulsortian-like mounds, thin, shallow-water (or "capping") facies are characterized by hardgrounds and colonial corals (e.g., Syringopora) (Smith, 1982; King, 1986). Biostratigraphic study of mounds (Lees et al., 1985) has shown that shallow-water facies are coeval and are probably related to episodic drops in relative sea level (e.g., the end-Tournaisian eustatic sea-level drop; Ross & Ross, 1987).


Global geography at the time of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound development included a large open ocean (Panthalassa) surrounding a relatively closely spaced group of continents. In Figure 1, a current Visean global reconstruction (from Rowley, Raymond, Parrish, Lottes, Scotese, & Ziegler, 1985) represents the prevailing geography during mound development. Use of the Visean global reconstruction is appropriate because the relative positions of Laurussia and Gondwana changed only slightly over the Tournaisian-Visean interval, and the relatively slow rate of Laurussian drift only moved that paleocontinent approximately 1 degree south during the Tournaisian-early Visean (drift rate from Ross & Ross, 1985). The Visean positions of Laurussia and Gondwana are well established and have not been modified since the initial paleocontinental base maps were published (Scotese, Bambach, Barton, Van Der Voo, & Ziegler, 1979; Rowley et al., 1985). For the smaller paleocontinental blocks (Indochina, North China-Tsaidam, South China, Shan Thai-Malaysia, and Tarim; Fig. 1), much less evidence exists to support their respective paleogeographic positions (especially Indochina and Shan Thai-Malaysia), and their positions are partially speculative (Rowley et al., 1985).

Figure 1 shows that the known Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds developed on the Laurussian paleocontinent in two broad paleogeographic settings. Numerous mounds developed on the southern Laurussian shelf margin (i.e., on the northern margin of the Appalachian-Ouachita ocean) within 5 degrees of the paleoequator (Fig. 1). Several mounds also developed within the Laurussian interior seaway up to 25 degrees N (Fig. 1). The Laurussian interior seaway encompasses the Antler foreland basin, the central Montana trough, the Williston basin, and the Peace River embayment (see maps in Precht & Shepard, 1989; Davies et al., 1989).


Precise paleotemperature measures are lacking for the Tournaisian-early Visean, however, some general statements can be made about the climates during this time. According to the first-order climatic curve of Fischer (1982), the early Carboniferous (Tournaisian-early Visean) was a time of transition in long-term global regimen from a "greenhouse" world to an "icehouse" world. The sum of available petrologic and paleontologic evidence supports the concept of an ameliorating Tournaisian-early Visean climate that was relatively warm (Dickens, 1985; Raymond, 1985; Rowley et al., 1985; Raymond, Kelley, & Lutken, 1989) as compared to the Carboniferous in general as well as in comparison to the present (Fischer, 1982). Further, the Tournaisian-early Visean was relatively humid, especially at low latitudes, as compared to the Carboniferous in general (Van der Zwan, Boulter, & Hubbard, 1985; Rowley et al., 1985).

Latitudinal generic diversity studies of brachiopods and selected fossil plant species show that the Tournaisian-early Visean world, as compared with that of the mid- to late Visean and Namurian, supported more generic diversity in a narrower, more nearly equatorial realm (Raymond, 1985; Raymond et al., 1989). These studies provide evidence of a distinctive, relatively warm, tropical zone extending from about 30 degrres north to 10 degrees south paleolatitude (Raymond et al., 1989) during the time when Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds developed.

Atmospheric circulation patterns in the Visean (based on the Scotese et al., 1979 reconstruction) likely contributed to significant seasonal upwelling of nutrient-rich ocean waters at selected sites astride the Tethys and Appalachian-Ouachita ocean (Parrish, 1982). According to the predicted-upwelling maps in Parrish (1982), year-round upwelling brought such waters to areas of Laurussia encompassed by Waulsortian-like mound sites 5 through 10 (Fig. 1) while the region of Waulsortian mound sites 1 through 4 (Fig. 1), did not receive upwelling ocean waters. Visean seasonal upwelling also affected minor regions without Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mud mounds, including the coast of the Appalachian highlands (ApHL on Fig. 1) and three sites on Gondwana (the northeastern coast of South America, northern Arabia, and the northwestern shelf of Australia; Parrish, 1982).


Hurricanes and tropical storms are important climatic forces acting upon the marine sedimentary realm in general and upon reefs in particular (Woodley et al., 1981; James, 1984). Thus, the energy of such storms and their effect on mound growth is of interest in more completely understanding Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound genesis. In the modern ocean, sea-surface temperature is the primary limiting factor in the generation of hurricanes and tropical storms (Palmen & Newton, 1969; Anthes, 1982). An actualistic extension of this principle is supported by recent preliminary syntheses of hurricane and tropical-storm influences in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic record (Marsaglia & Klein, 1983; Barron, 1988). From these investigations, I infer that the relatively warm and humid low-latitude climate of the Tournaisian-early Visean world probably spawned frequent and intensive hurricanes and tropical storms.

Barron (1988) has reasoned that paleogeography (specifically paleocontinental positions, paleotopography, and extent of paleocontinental flooding) and paleoclimate (especially the continuity of subtropical high-pressure zones) played major roles in controlling the specific heading of hurricane and tropical storm tracks in the past. Under conditions somewhat analogous to those prevailing during modern Pacific typhoon genesis (Gray, 1968; Marsaglia & Klein, 1983), the large Panthalassa ocean (Fig. 1) likely would have been an effective breeding ground for hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricanes and tropical storms also likely developed in the Tethys (Fig. 1) as they frequently do in the modern Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico (Gray, 1968). Like modern equivalents, Carboniferous hurricanes and tropical storms would have formed over open water just outside the narrow intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and moved initially westward. Subsquently, the hurricanes and tropical storms would have veered away from the ITCZ (see plots of modern storm tracks in Palmen & Newton, 1969).

The probable tracks of some Tournaisian-early Visean hurricanes and tropical storms nucleating in the eastern Panthalassa ocean would have lead ultimately onto the continental shelves of North China-Tsaidam, Tarim, and Kazakhstania and the northern shelf system of Gondwana, including the South China platform, the Shan Thai-Malaysia block, and the northern basins of Australia (Fig. 1). It is notable that Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds are specifically not present in the aforementioned, storm-influenced, paleocontinental shelves (Brown, Campbell, & Crook, 1968; Nalivkin, 1973; Metcalfe, 1983; Shipu, Yintnag, Guanxiu, Zhiping, & Shizhong, 1983). The known mounds are instead confined to the southern shelf margin of the Laurussian paleocontinent and the connecting Laurussian interior seaway (Fig. 1).

Owing to probable steering by subtropical high-pressure systems (Barron, 1988), any hurricane or tropical storm entering the Appalachian-Ouachita ocean from the eastern Tethys via the relatively narrow Tethyan strait would likely have followed one of two general tracks (Fig. 1). First, the storm might travel approximately due west and encounter the Appalachian highlands, thus dissipating its energy and/or deflecting its path in a southwesterly direction. Second, the storm could have followed an arcuate, southwest-directed (Southern Hemisphere) track that would take it roughly parallel to the northern coast of Gondwana (Marsaglia & Klein, 1983). Hurricane and tropical-storm deposits in the Visean of northwest Africa (Fig. 1) provide evidence in support of this second scenario (Kelling & Mullin, 1975). In either scenario, any Tournaisian-early Visean hurricane or tropical storm would have been a Southern Hemisphere storm, because of the low south-latitude position of the Tethyan strait.

The paleogeographic arrangement of the Appalachian-Ouachita ocean and the connecting Laurussian interior seaway (Fig. 1) probably prevented these bodies of water from being conducive to the nucleation of hurricanes and tropical storms for two reasons. First, the northern margin of the Appalachian-Ouachita ocean, i.e., the shelf system of southern Laurussia, was situated at very low latitudes (within a few degrees above and below the paleoequator; Fig. 1) and, therefore, probably was within the equivalent of the modern ITCZ (i.e., the equatorial doldrums), a zone of weak winds and very little storm activity (Neiburger, Bonner, & Edinger, 1973; Marsaglia & Klein, 1983). To examine the second reason, it is important to note that the modern hurricane and tropical-storm season is at its hemispheric peak during the summer and early fall, when the ITCZ departs most strongly from the equator (Hayes, 1967; Marsaglia & Klein, 1983). From this fact we can infer that, during the Northern Hemisphere summer and early fall, the Tournaisian-early Visean ITCZ would have been situated somewhere over the southern part of the largely emergent Laurussian paleocontinent and, therefore, would not have generated any hurricanes and tropical storms which might have impinged upon southern Laurussian shelf systems. Perhaps partly for this reason, Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound development is prolific in this storm-protected southern Laurussian shelf setting (Fig. 1).

Any possible nucleation of a hurricane or tropical storm within the Laurussian interior seaway was probably mitigated by the local topography. Key topographic features around the interior seaway included the extensive Antler highlands on the paleocontinental western margin, the emergent Laurussian lowlands to the east, and the Transcontinental arch to the south (Fig. 1) (Lane, 1984; Rowley et al., 1985). In addition to the paleotopographic features just noted, the overall ocean-continent arrangement of the Tournaisian-early Visean world was probably unfavorable for the positioning of Northern Hemisphere subtropical high-pressure cells critical for steering storms into a narrow interior seaway (see discussion of steering in Barron, 1988; see also Barron & Parrish, 1986).

Other severe storms, such as winter storms, are attributable to the effect of gross jet-stream patterns. Today these patterns are strongly linked to geography and are the cause of significant temperature contrasts and elevated wind speeds on the eastern oceanic margins of continents (Blackmon, Wallace, Lau, & Muller, 1977). Compilation of data on storm beds in the mid-latitude stratigraphic record of eastern paleocontinental margins (Marsaglia & Klein, 1983) indicates that gross jet-stream patterns generated winter storms throughout much of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds are absent on the east-facing (i.e., winter storm-affected) oceanic margins of the paleocontinents (Fig. 1). For example, Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds are specifically not present in the well-developed Tournaisian-early Visean section on the Laurussian eastern margin (i.e., the Donetz basin and other eastern basins, U.S.S.R.; Fig. 1) (Nalivkin, 1973; Aisenverg et al., 1979).


My paleogeographic analysis shows that the known Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds were confined to two broad Laurussian regions which appear to have been protected from potential severe-storm tracks. Thus, there was probably a connection between low wave energy (because of the lack of hurricane, tropical-storm, and winter-storm wave influences) and mound development.

If the control on Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound development were strictly latitudinal, as in most carbonate deposition, mounds would have developed in various low-latitude locations (probably between 30 degrees north and 10 degrees south), including the northern shelf margin of Gondwana and shelf margins of Kazakhstania, Tarim, and North China-Tsaidam. However, no such mounds are known in the Tournaisian-early Visean carbonate stratigraphy of the aforementioned storm-influenced paleocontinental settings.

If the Visean paleocontinental positions of Indochina, North China-Tsaidam, and Shan Thai-Malaysia are correct (Fig. 1), the equatorial Indochinese block and the near-equatorial regions of the other two paleocontinental blocks just mentioned would have been potential sites for development of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound development. However, in these areas the Tournaisian is absent at nearly all locations and the minor Tournaisian-early Visean section consists almost entirely of coarse clastics and shales (Metcalfe, Idris, & Tan, 1980; Metcalfe, 1983; Shipu et al., 1983).

If the control on distribution of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds were related closely to atmospheric circulation in general and the attendant seasonal upwelling of nutrient-rich waters in particular, mud mounds would occur at all sites of predicted seasonal upwelling. Yet several predicted coastal upwelling zones lack Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound development (e.g. northeastern South America and two other regions on the paleocontinent of Gondwana; Parrish, 1982). Further, the region of Laurussia where European Waulsortian mound growth occurred lacked the benefits of upwelling waters according to predicted patterns (Parrish, 1982).

Theories on the origin of specific Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds must account for mound growth in the absence of any frame-building organism. I suggest that frame-building organisms, the hallmark of organic buildups throughout the Phanerozoic, were not essential to Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound growth in part because of the general absence of wave energy from hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter-storms during mound growth. The dearth of storm energy would help explain the general symmetry of many Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds as well as the tendency for persistence of steep sides on the larger mounds (Wilson, 1975). Further, the lack of severe storms would mean a prevailingly shallow wave base. A shallow wave base over an extended period of time could help explain why Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds attained significant depositional relief without showing many effects of periodic wave reworking. The apparent connection between low wave energy and mound development does not shed much light on the question of which specific mechanism (i.e., cementation, microbial binding, or baffling) best explains Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mound origin. As Pratt (1982), James (1984), and Brown & Dodd (1990) have noted, it is likely that two or three mechanisms may have been at work at the same time in many mounds, and further study on mound-building mechanisms is needed.


I am grateful to Dr. A.M. Ziegler, who provided the base map for my Figure 1 in 1989 while it was still unpublished information. My interest in the "Waulsortian problem" is a spinoff from my dissertation research on Waulsortian-type facies of Boone County, Missouri (King, 1980), which was directed by Dr. Tom Freeman, University of Missouri-Columbia. This web paper is a modified version of the one published by me in Geology (King, 1990).


In August 1990, while attending the I.A.S. quadrennial meeting in Nottingham, U.K., I met J.D. Cooper, California State University, Fullerton, who had been supervising a senior thesis project on a Waulsortian-type mound in the Tin Mountain Formation of eastern California (Milligan, 1992). Dr. Cooper also told me of similar and related work on three Waulsortian-type mounds at an adjacent site in eastern California done by D.L. Jones, who was then a graduate student at the University of California-Riverside (Jones, 1988; 1989). All these studies in California, unknown to me when I wrote my original paper (King, 1990), would fit nicely as new data points on my Figure 1. In fact, it might have been predicted that Waulsortian mounds would occur at the western coast of North America based on inferences in my paper. Reference to Figure 1 shows how that region of western North America, during Early Carboniferous, was a protected zone with respect to tropical storms and hurricanes.

In late 1990, a few months after publication of the original version of this paper in Geology I was asked to write a 'Reply' to a 'Comment' on my paper, which had been submitted to the editors by V.P. Wright. Our mutual 'Comment-Reply' appears on pages 413-414 in the 1991 volume of Geology (Wright, 1991; King, 1991). Dr. Wright had several criticisms of my work, but the most significant criticism was that Waulsortian mound development took place, he said, at depths too great for storm waves to have played a role in mound disruption. In my 'Reply,' I pointed out that Early Carboniferous sea-level changes evidently brought Waulsortian mounds to shallower depths at times. In my opinion, it is important to note that there is a large body of literature on Waulsortian mounds, which describe many different realms of depth for their development. Thus, I think the "too deep" argument is not valid.

In 1995, I.A.S. Special Publication 23, titled Carbonate Mud-Mounds, Their Origin and Evolution, was published. Two articles in that Special Publication cover Waulsortian mounds and both of them contain a critique my previous work, which is cited above (i.e., King, 1986; 1990). These papers are by Bridges, Gutteridge, & Pickard (1995) and Lees & Miller (1995).

Bridges, Gutteridge, & Pickard (1995), while not seeming to have a problem with my mound descriptions, criticize my usage of the terms "Waulsortian and Waulsortian-type" because in their view such terms are of "limited value because they do not immediately convey a particular form." What these researchers resist concluding from the growing body of literature on global Waulsortian facies is that there is considerable diversity within what we call "Waulsortian," i.e., there is NOT a "particular form" of Waulsortian all around the world. Perhaps, instead of arguing over semantics, we should find another, more inclusive, term for this facies.

In the same volume, Lees & Miller (1995) reviewed my 1990 paper under a heading titled 'Environmental considerations,' saying:

"King (1990), taking a world view of mid-Dinantian paleogeography and paleoclimates, proposed that Waulsortian and similar mounds only formed in sea areas protected from hurricanes, tropical storms, and winter storms. The degree of wave activity doubtless influences sedimentation in shallow water, but it is not easy to understand how waves could control the formation of Waulsortian banks which seem to have favoured relatively deep waters below storm wave base (perhaps to 300 m or more, see, for example, Lees 1982, Fig. 8)."

Whereas I appreciate the attention of Drs. Lees and Miller to my work, they (like V.P. Wright, discussed above) have missed out on a key point: namely, that Early Carboniferous sea-level changes evidently brought Waulsortian mounds to much shallower depths at times (e.g., see Burchette, 1990, p. 106). Further, there are two other possible explanations of how storms might affect deep-water mounds not considered by Drs. Lees and Miller. First, such mounds may have been indirectly influenced by storm energy if violent storms initiated significant mass-movement of fine shelfal debris into deeper water, thus smothering growing mounds. And secondly, particularly intensive storms, perhaps more intensive than the largest modern hurricanes, may have generated waves that acted at depths that penetrated significantly into the Waulsortian realm.

In 1998, I received a communication from Dr. H.E. Cook, USGS-Menlo Park, California, saying that he had been working on carbonate systems in the former Soviet Union with a group of Kazakhstanian geologists. He reported that they had discovered Waulsortian-like mounds in Early Carboniferous strata of the Bolshoi Karatau Mountains of southern Kazakhstan (Cook, Zhemchuzhnikov, Buvtyshkin, Golub, Gatovsky, & Zorin, 1994), which were not known about when I wrote my paper. He also related that his research group would be publishing about this Waulsortian mound development in a forthcoming (1999?) SEPM Special Publication, tentatively titled Carbonate Systems of the CIS. Dr. Cook pointed out that his new Waulsortian mounds developed on what was then the eastern side of Kazakhstania (Fig. 1), and he implied that such a discovery challenged my arguments about storm control. I do not think his discovery shows any problems with my interpretations, as the Tarim block (Fig. 1) would have provided some protection from incoming storms. Further, the newer paleogeographic map by Scotese & McKerrow (1990), which was cited by Cook and his colleagues, shows Kazakhstania in a more closely spaced configuration with respect to Tarim. Such a location makes the prospect of storm impact on eastern Kazakhstania even less likely.


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Figure 1. Visean geography (from Rowley et al., 1985) showing locations (numbered) of Waulsortian and Waulsortian-like mounds. Dashed lines with arrows show probable tracks of hurricanes and tropical storms. AnHL = Antler highlands; AOO = Appalachian-Ouachita ocean; ApHL = Appalachian highlands; DB = Donetz basin and eastern USSR basins; I = Indochina block; K = Kazakhstania; LIS = Laurussian interior seaway; M = Shan Thai-Malaysia block; NAsd = Northwest Africa storm deposits; NC = North China-Tsaidam block; S = South China platform; SLSM = southern Laurussian shelf margin; T = Tarim block; TCA = Transcontinental arch; TS = Tethyan strait. Stars indicate coasts and shelves with significant seasonal upwelling according to Parrish (1982).

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