A facies distribution model controlled by a tectonically inherited sea bottom topography in the carbonate rimmed shelf of the Upper Tithonian–Valanginian Southern Tethyan continental margin (NW Sicily, Italy)

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The Upper Tithonian–Valanginian shallow-water carbonates outcropping in the Palermo Mts (NW Sicily) consist of several facies associations reflecting different depositional environments of a carbonate rimmed shelf, pertaining to the Southern Tethyan continental margin. The reconstructed depositional model, based on the sedimentological features, cyclic facies arrangement and biota distribution, shows that a wide protected lagoon, dominated by algae, molluscs and scattered patch reefs, was bordered landward by a tidal flat, where stromatolitic algal mats were cyclically subaerial exposed, and seaward by a marine sand belt and reef complex. Oolitic packstone-grainstone lithofacies, cyclically subjected to subaerial exposure, suggests the occurrence of a barrier island, located nearly to the lagoonal carbonate shoreline, allowing the development of narrow embayments with restricted circulation. In the outer platform, the oolitic lithofacies of the marine sand belt pass landward into the protected lagoon, where washover oolite sands occur, and seaward into a high-energy zone (back-reef apron) gradually merging in the reef complex. In the latter, coral framestone occupied the inner sector (reef flat), while the facies association dominated by boundstone with Ellipsactinia sp. developed in the outer sectors (reef wall), adjacent to the fore-reef and upper slope environments. Stratigraphic evidence, associated with the recognized facies associations, helped to reconstruct the geo-tectonic setting of the carbonate platform, where the distribution of the depositional facies along the shelf and their extension were influenced by the tectonically-inherited sea bottom topography. In a regime of extensional tectonics, localized and thin succession of high-energy prograding oolite sand belt depositional facies occupied structural highs (footwall uplift), while the largely diffused and thick low energy aggrading peritidal-to-lagoonal depositional facies developed in subsiding hanging wall. The reef complex and the fore-reef depositional facies, exhibiting lateral migration and prograding geometries with clinoforms and downlap stratal terminations, developed on a subsident stepped margin, adjacent to a faulted shelf-break. This morphostructural setting can be comprised in a model, where the tilted and faulted-blocks (inner platform) and stepped margin (outer platform) paleo-topography, inherited from the rifting tectonics, was the most important factor controlling the geometry and depositional architecture of a carbonate platform growing on the Southern Tethyan passive margin.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)91-105
Numero di pagine15
RivistaSedimentary Geology
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy

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