Principles of Carbonate Sedimentation
In order to prepare ourselves for application of sequence stratigraphy to reefs and carbonate platforms, we first have to understand how shallow-water carbonate accumulations are formed. We therefore start out with an overview of basic rules that govern production, distribution and deposition of carbonate material in the marine environment. This overview is selective and focuses on those principles that are immediately relevant for the large-scale anatomy and seismic signature of reefs and platforms.
Three basic rules capture the peculiar nature of carbonate depositional systems—carbonate sediments are largely of organic origin, the systems can build wave-resistant structures and they undergo extensive diagenetic alteration because the original minerals are metastable. The implications of these rules are pervasive. We will encounter them throughout the chapters of this booklet, starting with this first section, which briefly reviews the principles of growth of reefs and production of sediments as well as basic patterns in the anatomy of carbonate accumulations.
Figures & Tables
Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy of Reefs and Carbonate Platforms: A Short Course
Classical sequence stratigraphy has been developed primarily from siliciclastic systems. Application of the concept to carbonates has not been as straightforward as expected even though the basic tenets of sequence stratigraphy are supposed to be applicable to all depositional systems. Rather than force carbonate platforms into the straightjacket of a concept derived from another sediment family, this publication takes a different tack, starting out from the premise that sequence stratigraphy is a modern and sophisticated version of lithostratigraphy. It reviews sedimentologic principles governing the large-scale anatomy of reefs and platforms; looks at sequences and systems tracts from a sedimentologic point of view; assesses the differences between siliciclastics and carbonates in their response to sea level; evaluates processes that compete with sea level for control on carbonate sequences; and presents a set of guidelines for application of sequence stratigraphy to reefs and carbonate platforms.