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Neogene Lithofacies Evolution on a Small Carbonate Platform in the Loyalty Basin, Mare, New Caledonia

By
Donald F. McNeill
Donald F. McNeill
Division of Marine Geology & Geophysics, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149 U.S.A e-mail: dmcneill@rsmas.miami.edu
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Andrzej Pisera
Andrzej Pisera
Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Twarda 51/56, 00-818 Warszawa, Poland e-mail: apis@twarda.pan.pl
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Published:
January 01, 2010

Abstract

The succession of biofacies recorded in a small carbonate platform (Maré, ∼ 40 km diameter) in the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, is used to evaluate the geological and paleoenvironmental evolution of the platform. The depositional succession shows a distinct change in biotic assemblages across a subaerial discontinuity at the Miocene-Pliocene boundary. This change from an underlying late Miocene fringing reef and rhodolith shelf built around the volcanic core, to a thin bed (∼ 2 m) of early Pliocene foraminifera-algal (foralgalith) macroids that forms the base of a massive coral-dominated atoll. The rhodolith facies is dominated by coralline red algae, whereas the foralgaliths contain abundant sessile acervulinid foraminifera, some crusts of coral, and minor coralline red algae. This foralgalith macroid composition indicates initial deepening before a switch to coral-dominated biota that formed the steep-sided atoll rim. These new data and existing petrographic evidence suggests a sequence of marine cementation of the rhodoliths followed by subaerial exposure and shoreline erosion around the platform rim. Subsequently the platform was reflooded in the early Pliocene, partially drowned, and recovered with the deeper-water foralgalith facies followed by the establishment of a massive coral atoll. This platform-atoll evolution closely reflects eustatic sea-level changes and local tectonic uplift related to lithospheric flexure. A switch to a coral-dominated atoll in the Pliocene likely reflects a (global?) trend of decreased coralline red algae species richness, improved water quality, and the reestablishment of photic-zone conditions more favorable to warm-water carbonates. The combination of refined age control integrated with biotic changes provides sufficient sensitivity of the carbonate facies to record local tectonic changes, ecologic changes, and eustatic events. These results provide calibration of the lithofacies successions that may occur on small, tectonically active tropical Pacific platforms.

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SEPM Special Publication

Cenozoic Carbonate Systems of Australasia

William A. Morgan
William A. Morgan
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Annette D. George
Annette D. George
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Paul M. (Mitch) Harris
Paul M. (Mitch) Harris
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Julie A. Kupecz
Julie A. Kupecz
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J. F. (Rick) Sarg
J. F. (Rick) Sarg
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
95
ISBN electronic:
9781565762992
Publication date:
January 01, 2010

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