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Abstract:

There are three depositional scenarios for Miocene reef development within the Pelagian Region as follows: Carbonate ramps provide an important setting for coral patch reefs, with the additional important development of coralline algal (often rhodolitic) biostromes immediately basinward of the lime-mud dominated patch reefs. Delta tops and chaannels, in total contrast to the clear water carbonates of gently sloping ramps, are the tectonically active zones associated with areas immediately to the south of the Sicilian Alpine fold belt. Here, in association with delta top channels and small offshore culminations above thrust-generated sea floor ridges, localised reefs developed whenever turbidity and siliciclastic sedimentation was reduced. Generally this was coincidental with marine onlap events of relatively short duration. Finally, carbonate shelf slope breaks, there are the monogeneric coral curtain reefs which developed under clear water conditions at basin-facing breaks in slope such as the submarine fault scarps bordering on to the central Mediterranean graben systems.

From a palaeoecological viewpoint, the limited range of coral genera present may most conveniently be catalogued on the basis of their respective growth form strategy. These range from slender rods in excess of 1 m long in the coral curtains, to vermiform and ramose bushy growths in the areas of highest siliciclastic sedimentation. Additionally, dome headed corals dominate upper fore-reef and reef crest locations; whereas, undulose growth forms typify lagoonal and ramp patch reefs.

Each peculiar reef type is the product of a variable range of parameters including substrate stability, eustatic fluctuations, tectonism and sedimentation rates. These are all considered before proposing several sedimentological models common to the central Mediterranean region and possibly of value elsewhere within Tertiary "Tethyan realm."

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