A Modern Analogue for Tectonic, Eustatic, and Climatic Processes in Cratonic Basins: Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Australia
N. Terence Edgar, C. Blaine Cecil, R.E. Mattick, Allan R. Chivas, Patrick De Deckker, Yusuf S. Djajadihardja, 2003. "A Modern Analogue for Tectonic, Eustatic, and Climatic Processes in Cratonic Basins: Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Australia", Climate Controls on Stratigraphy, C. Blaine Cecil, N. Terence Edgar
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The Gulf of Carpentaria is a tropical, silled epicontinental sea and may be a modern analogue for ancient cratonic basins. For the purpose of this study, the Gulf of Carpentaria is compared to Pennsylvanian cratonic basins of the United States. During the Pennsylvanian, the North American continent moved from the Southern Hemisphere, through the Equator, into the Northern Hemisphere. Today, the Gulf of Carpentaria–New Guinea region is a few degrees south of the Equator and is moving towards it. During the Pennsylvanian, the world was subjected to major glaciations and associated sea-level changes. The island of New Guinea and the Gulf of Carpentaria have undergone similar processes during the Quaternary. A reconnaissance seismic survey of the gulf conducted by the USGS and the Australian National University (ANU), combined with oil-exploration well data, provided the first step in a systematic evaluation of a modern tropical epicontinental system. During the Cenozoic, the region was dominated by terrestrial sedimentation in a temperate climate. At the same time, carbonates were being deposited on the northern shelf edge of the Australian Plate. During the Miocene, carbonate deposition expanded southward into the gulf region. Then in the Late Miocene, carbonate sedimentation was replaced by terrigenous clastics derived from the developing Central Range of the island of New Guinea, which developed a wetter climate while moving northwards into the tropics. At least 14 basin-wide transgressive–regressive cycles are identified by channels that were eroded under subaerial conditions since about the Miocene. Comparison of the modern Gulf of Carpentaria sequences with those of the Pennsylvanian reveals many similarities.
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The role of climate as a primary control on stratigraphy is the cornerstone of this volume. The emphasis on climate is in distinct contrast to most previous studies, in which stratigraphic variability has been related to changes in sea level and in tectonic activity. Furthermore, the findings, derived from several years of detailed study of modern and ancient key geologic sections around the world, indicate that traditional depositional models generally do not fully explain the origin of fossil fuels. Although the results of the studies presented in this volume are intended to contribute to the disciplines of sedimentary geology and stratigraphy, the contributors recognize that their results may also contribute to a better understanding of global climate change. The theoretical background of climate control on sediment supply and stratigraphy is presented in the volume. With this background in place, detailed documentation and analysis of climate control on the lithologic variation of a single Middle Pennsylvanian.