Remote Sensing and Comparative Geomorphology of Holocene Carbonate Depositional Systems
Published:January 01, 2008
Eugene C. Rankey, Paul M.(Mitch) Harris, 2008. "Remote Sensing and Comparative Geomorphology of Holocene Carbonate Depositional Systems", Controls on Carbonate Platform and Reef Development, Jeff Lukasik, J.A. (Toni) Simo
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Shallow-water carbonate systems encompass a spectrum of environments, from reefs to shoals to tidal flats. Although the sedimentologic characteristics of these systems have been studied for many years, new remote-sensing data provide unique, unparalleled perspectives on spatial heterogeneity in Holocene carbonate systems. The purpose of this paper is to describe the structure, content, and utility of a database of remote-sensing images that are included on a companion CD.
The twenty-five focus areas include a range of depositional systems from across the globe. The image database for most areas includes three scales of remote-sensing data: one that captures the regional context (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer [MODIS] data, with 250 m2 pixels), another that illustrates the local setting (Landsat data, with ~ 30 m2 pixels), and a third that includes high-resolution details of the area (IKONOS or QuickBird data, with 4 m2 or 2.5 m2 pixels). These are presented in an interactive, zoomable format, and are supplemented by supporting information on the setting and published work in each area.
The overall goal of the database is to provide the suite of new images to a broad audience, rather than to provide a detailed interpretation of any or all areas, or an overview of controls on carbonate depositional systems. These images can be used in several ways. For example, specific examples in the database have been applied as a learning tool in a classroom, and quantitative analysis illustrates enhanced student understanding of spatial complexity in these systems. Additionally, beyond the classroom, these images provide information on depositional models and the scales of depositional heterogeneity in carbonate systems for geologists, reservoir modelers, and geophysicists.
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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.