The Nanpanjiang Basin of south China contains four exceptionally well-exposed, isolated Triassic carbonate platforms. Detailed mapping of two-dimensional transects and description of stratigraphic sections allow the reconstruction of facies architecture, sequence stratigraphy, and evolution of the platforms. Biostratigraphy, magnetic-susceptibility profiles, and volcanic-ash horizons allow chronostratigraphic correlation and, thus, a basinwide evaluation of mechanisms controlling platform evolution.
A comparison of platform architecture demonstrates that southerly platforms have substantially greater thickness, backstepping geometry, pinnacle development, and earlier drowning that resulted from greater tectonic subsidence proximal to a probable convergent margin along the southern perimeter of the basin. Felsic volcanics thicken southward and contributed to the termination of the southernmost platform, indicating the development of a volcanic arc along the southern margin of the South China tectonic block. The northernmost isolated platform had greater longevity and lesser accumulation and lacks backstepping and pinnacle phases of development. Basin-margin intertonguing relationships, or lack thereof, demonstrate that earlier siliciclastic influx into the basin to the south and concurrent starved-basin conditions to the north impacted the evolution of platform-margin geometries.
Comparative analysis of platform evolution shows that the timing and rates of tectonic subsidence controlled the timing of platform termination by drowning, backstep geometries, pinnacle development, and overall platform thickness. The timing of siliciclastic basin fill dictated differences in platform-margin geometries such as slope angle, relief above basin floor, and the presence or absence of basinward platform progradation. Despite the dramatic differences in platform architecture, eustatic sea level fluctuations imparted a basinwide sequence-stratigraphic signal.