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Abstract

The well-known cyclic carbonate succession of the Middle Triassic Latemar Massif in the Italian Dolomites reveals significant lateral variability in cycle numbers in platform-interior strata. Within an interval of 60 m, a 25% increase in the number of marine flooding surfaces was detected when approaching the several-hundred-meters-wide tepee belt in the backreef area, which represents the maximum elevation of the isolated Latemar buildup. The impact of high-frequency- low-amplitude sea-level fluctuations on this elevated zone resulted in the development of spatially restricted intermittent emergence and marine flooding surfaces bounding small-scale upward-shallowing cycles. It is postulated that these alternations of submergence and subaerial exposure have favored tepee formation. Sediment collecting in the saucer-shaped tepee megapolygons further expedited upward shallowing of small-scale cycles. Conversely, deeper parts of the lagoon remained largely unaffected by high-frequency, low- amplitude sea-level oscillations: marine flooding surfaces disappear and cycles amalgamate. It is concluded that tepee structures are generally confined to topographically elevated areas where low-amplitude sea-level fluctuations were recorded. Lateral variations in cycle stacking pattern should be commonplace in shallow carbonate buildups throughout the geological record, where paleorelief existed in the platform interior.

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