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Turbidite systems of orogenic belts are characterized by a spectacular sedimentary cyclicity that developed on physically and temporally different scales, ranging from that of basin fills to that of m-thick packages of sandstone beds. In particular, the best preserved and thus the most complete expression of these cyclic stacking patterns is observed in turbidite sandstone lobe successions which are characterized by hierarchicallyordered alternations of thick-bedded and predominantly sandstone facies with muddier units (the classic facies sequences of Mutti and Ricci Lucchi, 1972, 1975; see Pickering et al., 1989, for an extensive discussion).

This kind of cyclic turbidite sedimentation has long been considered as primarily related to autocyclic processes (e.g., fan progradation or recession, channel-avulsion and lobe-switching, etc.) inherent to deep sea fan depositional dynamics (e.g., Mutti and Ricci Lucchi, 1972; Walker, 1978). More recently, attempts have been made to explain this kind of sedimentation also in terms of cyclic relative sea-level variation (e.g., Mutti and Normark, 1987; Pickering et al., 1989; Vail et al., 1991) or of tectonically-induced instability processes in basin-margin regions (e.g., Mutti, 1992). However, mounting evidence from different fields of research, directly or indirectly suggests that cyclic turbidite sedimentation may have a considerably more complex origin involving other potentially important controlling factors such as tectonism, climate, sediment flux to the sea, and the fluvial regime in adjacent mountain fronts (e.g., Milliman and Syvitski, 1992; Mutti et al., 1994, 1996; Mulder and Syvitski, 1995). A better understanding of turbidite cyclic stacking patterns may thus contribute significant information regarding not

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