Fragmented bioclastic wackestone
A Wackestone in thin section (width of image is 10 mm)

Under the Dunham classification (Dunham, 1962[1]) system of limestones, a wackestone is defined as a mud-supported carbonate rock that contains greater than 10% grains. Most recently, this definition has been clarified as a carbonate-dominated rock in which the carbonate mud (<63 μm) component supports a fabric comprising 10% or more very fine-sand grade (63 μm) or larger grains but where less than 10% of the rock is formed of grains larger than sand grade (>2 mm).[2]

The identification of wackestone

Schematic wackestone as seen in thin section under the petrographic microscope. Type of carbonaceous rock according to the depositional texture: Alloctonous carbonates – Original components not bound at the deposition time. Less than 10% of components larger than sand size (> 2 mm) Contains carbonate mud (micrite, silt/clay size <63 μm) Fabric supported by carbonate mud (micrite, <63 μm) 10% or more composed of 63 μm or greater grains Legend: Dotted background: micritic matrix. Curved blue particles: bioclasts (indeterminate fossils, e.g. bivalve fragments). Blue cones: bioclasts (e.g. fossils of gastropods) Black spheroids: bioclasts (pellets).

A study of the adoption and use of carbonate classification systems by Lokier and Al Junaibi (2016)[2] highlighted that the most common problem encountered when describing a wackestone is to incorrectly estimate the volume of 'grains' in the sample – in consequence, misidentifying wackestone as mudstone or vice versa. The original Dunham classification (1962)[1] defined the matrix as clay and fine-silt size sediment <20 μm in diameter. This definition was redefined by Embry & Klovan (1971)[3] to a grain size of less than or equal to 30 μm. Wright (1992)[4] proposed a further increase to the upper limit for the matrix size in order to bring it into line with the upper limit for silt (62 μm).


  1. ^ a b Dunham, R.J., 1962. Classification of carbonate rocks according to depositional texture. In: W.E. Ham (Ed.), Classification of Carbonate Rocks. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Memoir. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, Oklahoma, pp. 108–121.
  2. ^ a b Lokier, Stephen W.; Al Junaibi, Mariam (2016-12-01). "The petrographic description of carbonate facies: are we all speaking the same language?". Sedimentology. 63 (7): 1843–1885. doi:10.1111/sed.12293. ISSN 1365-3091.
  3. ^ Embry, A.F. and Klovan, J.E., 1971. A Late Devonian reef tract on Northeastern Banks Island, NWT. Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, 19(4)), 730–781.
  4. ^ Wright, V.P., 1992. A revised classification of limestones. Sedimentary Geology, 76(3–4), 177–185.