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Abstract

Four 2nd-order transgressive/regressive (T/R) facies cycles, including about forty 3rd-order depositional sequences, have been identified within western European Basins. They are: T/R 7 (Bajocian-middle Bathonian), T/R 8 (Upper Bathonian-middle Oxfordian), T/R 9 (Upper Oxfordian-Lower Volgian) and T/R 10 (Ryazanian). These long-term cycles are surprisingly synchronous over widespread areas, even though extensional tectonics were particularly active at that time. Only two regressive pulses (lower-middle Callovian and lower Kimmeridgian) are locally reported as a direct consequence of synrift block tilting. The 3rd-order depositional sequences, which are the building blocks of these 2nd-order T/R cycles, have been calibrated and defined from the North Sea to the Tethyan margin. This allows precise correlation between different tectonic settings and depositional environments. Major erosional unconformities relate to critical events of North Sea rifting. However, they are recorded as major 3rd-order sequence boundaries on surrounding shelves, even far away from the North Sea, such as on the Tethyan margin in the French sub-Alps. Most of the forty defined 3rd-order sequences can be objectively correlated within the limits of the available biostratigraphy. They represent a very efficient tool to constrain the timing of the tectonic control, to quantify the tectonic subsidence and the sediment supply and to predict the development of stratigraphic features.

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