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Classical sequence stratigraphy holds that succession and geometry of sequences are controlled by relative changes of sea level (e.g. Vail et al., 1977; Haq et al., 1987). The theory postulates furthermore that a global stack of relative sea-level curves from sequence stratigraphy reveals a strong eustatic signal that dominates the record even in tectonically mobile settings such as convergent ocean margins. Consequent application of the above concepts has produced the most widely cited eustatic sea level curve to date (Haq et al., 1987). This curve has proved very useful in many instances, particularly in periods with independent evidence for strong glacio-eustasy. However, the curve has also generated a growing wave of concern and reports of serious discrepancies. We refer to Miall (1986), Hubbard (1988) and Underhill (1991) for critique of the general concept. This chapter restricts itself to questions specifically related to sequence stratigraphy in reefs and carbonate platforms.

We contend that, particularly in carbonates, eustasy is less dominant than postulated by classical sequence stratigraphy and that other processes contribute significantly to the formation of stratigraphic sequences. The alternatives are of two kinds: First, many sea-level fluctuations reflected in sequence stratigraphy are related to local or regional tectonics.

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