Giant Sector-Collapse Structures (Scalloped Margins) of the Yangtze Platform and Great Bank of Guizhou, China: Implications for Genesis of Collapsed Carbonate Platform Margin Systems

Document Type


Publication Date



Sector-collapse structures ranging up to 27 km wide with up to 7.7 km bankward erosion (scalloped margins) and linear escarpments occur along the east-north-east-trending, south-facing margins of the Yangtze Platform and Great Bank of Guizhou. Exposure of one of the structures on the rotated limb of a syncline displays the geometry in profile view. Declivities range from 65° to 90° in the upper wall and decrease asymptotically to the toe. Catastrophic collapses of the margins in both platforms occurred during the late Ladinian as constrained by the ages of strata truncated along the margins and the siliciclastic turbidites that onlap collapse structures. Middle Triassic Anisian and Ladinian platform-edge reef facies and platform-interior facies were truncated along both the Yangtze and Great Bank of Guizhou margins. Lower Triassic facies were also truncated along the Great Bank of Guizhou margin. Gravity transport during the main episodes of collapse occurred as mud-rich debris-flows and as mud-free hyper-concentrated flows. Clasts, several to tens of metres and, exceptionally, hundreds of metres across, were transported to the basin. Following collapse, talus, carbonate turbidites and periplatform-mud accumulated at the toe of slope. Shedding of skeletal grains and carbonate mud indicates active carbonate factories at the margin. Preserved sections of the margins demonstrate that the platforms evolved high-relief, accretionary escarpments prior to collapse. High-relief, without buttressing by basin-filling sediments, predisposed the margins to collapse by development of tensile strain and fracturing within the margin due to the lack of confining stress. The linear geometry of margins and active tectonics in the region supports tectonic activity triggering the collapse. Collapse is thus interpreted to have been triggered by fault movement and seismic shock. Comparison with other systems indicates that evolution from high-relief accretion to tectonic collapse of largely lithified margins resulted in large sector-collapse structures and deposition of a coarse, generally mud-poor breccia apron.




Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Publication Information