Upper Mississippian Antler Foreland Basin Carbonate and Siliciclastic Rocks, East-Central Idaho and Southwestern Montana, U.S.A.: Distinguishing Tectonic and Eustatic Controls on Deposition
Published:January 01, 2008
Liselle S. Batt, Michael C. Pope, Peter E. Isaacson, Isabel Montañez, Jason Abplanalp, 2008. "Upper Mississippian Antler Foreland Basin Carbonate and Siliciclastic Rocks, East-Central Idaho and Southwestern Montana, U.S.A.: Distinguishing Tectonic and Eustatic Controls on Deposition", Controls on Carbonate Platform and Reef Development, Jeff Lukasik, J.A. (Toni) Simo
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A regional study, based on detailed descriptions of 17 outcrops across east-central Idaho and southwestern Montana, provides a dip-oriented cross section in which to better understand the distribution of Upper Mississippian (Chesterian) stratigraphy on the distal margin of the Antler foreland basin. Chesterian strata constitute an eastward-thinning wedge of mixed carbonate and siliciclastic rocks that formed on a west-facing ramp. Foreland-basin tectonism subdivided the ramp into three distinct depositional settings: the western, central, and eastern ramp. The western ramp records nearly continuous Chesterian deposition, whereas the central and eastern ramps have significant unconformities. Mud-rich subtidal carbonate predominates on the western ramp, but this interfingered during the late Chesterian with tidally influenced siliciclastics. The central ramp contains an intraramp basin with deep subtidal siliciclastics and carbonate that formed adjacent to shallower-water facies to the west and east. The eastern ramp has mostly peritidal carbonate and shallow marine to fluvial siliciclastics, but a transgression from the north during the late Chesterian inundated this portion of the ramp with open marine carbonate.
New conodont biostratigraphic constraints indicate that these Chesterian strata are a second-order megasequence (10-12 My duration) composed of more than seven third-order depositional sequences (S0-S7), each having a duration of 1-5 My. The sequences are grouped into three composite sequences (I, II, and III) that define long-term changes in accommodation controlled by syndepositional tectonism. Composite sequence I was deposited during a period of tectonic loading that partitioned the ramp via subsidence loading and extension. Composite sequence II records a period of tectonic stabilization and deposition during the most extensive eustatic flooding, whereas composite sequence III is dominated by a localized subsidence event in the Big Snowy Trough. Higher-frequency (fourth- and fifth- order) parasequences are common throughout the study interval, but they are only locally correlative. A change from thick-bedded carbonate- dominated parasequences in the early and middle Chesterian to thinner-bedded mixed carbonate and siliciclastic parasequences in the late Chesterian likely reflects the onset of moderate- to high-amplitude, high-frequency eustatic fluctuations caused by the initiation of Gondwanan glaciation.
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Controls on Carbonate Platform and Reef Development
Carbonate platforms and reefs emerge, grow and die in response to intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms forced primarily by tectonics, oceanography, climate, ecology and eustasy. These mechanisms, or controls, create the physical, biological and chemical signals accountable for the myriad of carbonate depositional responses that, together, form the complex depositional systems present in the modern and ancient settings. If we are to fully comprehend these systems, it is critical to ascertain which controls ultimately govern the “life cycle” of carbonate platforms and reefs and understand how these signals are recorded and preserved. Deciphering which signals produce a dominant sedimentological response from the plethora of physical and biological information generated from superimposed regional to global-scale controls is critical to achieving this goal. With this understanding, it may be possible to extract common time- and space-independent depositional responses to specific mechanisms that may, ultimately, be used in a productive sense. Extensive research on a wide variety of carbonate platform and reefal systems in the past few decades has provided the foundation and understanding necessary to take carbonate research to a new level. With assistance from rapidly advancing computer software and an increasing use of cross-disciplinary integration, carbonate research is shifting from description and morphological analysis towards a science that is more focused on the assessment of process and genetic relationships. The aim of this special publication is to present a cross section of recent research that shows this evolution from a variety of perspectives and scales using examples distributed throughout the Phanerozoic.