Interactions Between Sediment Production and Transport in the Geometry of Carbonate Platforms: Insights from Forward Modeling of the Great Bank of Guizhou (Early to Middle Triassic), South China

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Carbonate platforms grow through the precipitation, transport, and final deposition of carbonate sediment out of seawater. Quantifying the relative contributions of initial production versus subsequent transport in determining the growth rates and geometries of platforms remains a significant challenge. In this study, stratigraphic forward modeling is used to quantify the roles of sediment production, transport, and deposition during each growth stage of a Permian-Triassic carbonate platform with a complex growth history. Parameter optimization and sensitivity analysis show that, within the range of reasonable values, the morphology of the platform is most sensitive to sediment transport, moderately sensitive to maximum carbonate production rate, and least sensitive to the productivity-depth curve. The ramp-to-high relief, steep-sloped platform transition during Early Triassic time can be explained by any factor that limits sediment transport from shallow water areas of high production to the slope and basin. Reefs may play a role in limiting sediment transport on many platforms but other processes, such as early marine cementation or carbonate production along the slope, may be equally capable of yielding this shift in platform geometry. In this particular case, early lithification of ooid and skeletal shoals on the platform margin, perhaps facilitated by unusually high carbonate saturation state of seawater, may have inhibited sediment transport into the basin prior to the development of a reef on the platform margin. Later, Anisian progradation of the platform margin can be explained by the development of a slope factory rather than requiring increased sediment transport from the platform top. The development of an escarpment margin in the Ladinian is mainly influenced by accommodation in the slope profile created by antecedent Anisian topography. A general implication from the model results is that the growth of steep-sloped carbonate platforms lacking slope factories may often be limited by transport of sediment from the platform top to accommodation on the slope rather than by the intrinsic production capacity of the platform top factory.


85084186684 (Scopus)




Elsevier Ltd.



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Marine and Petroleum Geology