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The vast majority of exposed ancient turbidite systems occur in thrust-and-fold belts where they constitute the fill of both peripheral foreland and associated wedge-top basins (Fig. 1). Since the work of Kuenen and Migliorini (1950), most of our knowledge of turbidite sedimentation is still based on the study of these systems and on the models derived from them.

However, it has become clear with time that turbidites, both recent and ancient, occur in many other types of basins which substantially differ from those of thrust-and-fold belts in terms of tectonic setting, physiography and feeder systems (e.g., Stow et al., 1985; Mutti and Normark, 1987; Pickering et al., 1989; Weimer and Link, 1991). In particular, large accumulations of deep-water sandstones, mainly turbiditic in origin and associated with large river systems, occur in offshore basins of divergent margins (Fig. 1) representing targets of paramount importance for present and future oil exploration (Weimer and Link, 1991). Questions like how and to what extent depositional models derived from the study of ancient turbidite systems of thrust-and-fold basins can be used to describe these systems and to predict their sand distribution patterns present a challenge for future sedimentological research. Most ancient turbidites of orogenic belts appear to have formed in narrow and elongate basins that experienced little, if any, reworking by oceanic bottom currents (Mutti and Normark, 1987, 1991). These tectonically active basins, typically developed on continental crust, are thus ideal to study turbidite sedimentation without any substantial interaction with other deep-marine processes. Conversely, bottom currents and their deposits (contourites) are common in most oceanic basins, particularly on

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