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Up to six 2nd-order transgressive/regressive facies cycles have been identified within the overall Lower Cretaceous transgressive phase. They are defined on the basis of a widespread set of data ranging from the northern North Sea to southern Italy. They are long-term duration (3 to 14 my) cycles, made of higher order depositional sequences which have been described in both carbonate and siliciclastic settings and mainly from the London-Paris basin to southern Italy. The large-scale stratal pattern of these cycles document the relationship of the type and amount of sediment supply to changes in the rate of accommodation. The Pre-Aptian cycles which are mostly aggradational, relate to high-rates of sediment supply together with changing rates of accommodation. They are limited by major erosional unconformities to which forestepping sequences that include major lowstand deposits, are merging. The Aptian and post-Aptian cycles are mostly retrogradational; these lead to the widespread development of organic-rich condensed horizons at peak transgressions in basinal settings. The unconformities bounding these cycles are also highly erosional and relate to major intraplate reorganization of the strain field in connection with the North Atlantic rifting.

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