In carbonate sequence stratigraphy, carbonate megabreccias have acquired particular significance, being deemed characteristic of the lowstand systems tract (LST) or the forced regressive systems tract (FRST). Large-scale mass-wastage can, however, result from factors other than sea-level change and it is rare that the sequence stratigraphic significance of megabreccias can be rigorously tested. In the Cambrian of North Greenland, erection of a robust sequence stratigraphic framework is facilitated by extensive fjord-wall exposures of the platform to deep shelf transect and by a well-developed carbonate-silici-clastic reciprocal sedimentation pattern within off-platform strata. On the basis of this independent framework, megabreccias are represented locally within the LST and the highstand systems tract (HST), but occur systematically above the HST. These HST-capping megabreccias are composite sheets tens of metres thick that extend up to 50 km distally and flank the platform for up to 400 km along strike. They comprise debris derived from the highstand platform margin and slope and are directly overlain by mixed carbonate-siliciclastic sediments of the succeeding LST. The HST-capping megabreccias are assigned to the FRST; they record extensive failure of the platform margin and upper slope during relative fall of sea-level and prior to the onset of lowstand sedimentation. Although the LST megabreccias are compositionally distinctive, the sole example of an intra-HST megabreccia differs from those of the FRST only in terms of areal extent. In the absence of an independent framework, therefore, the sequence stratigraphic affinities of megabreccias may be ambiguous.
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An increasing number of studies in recent years have demonstrated that significant progradation of shallow marine systems occurs under conditions of base-level fall. These new data are forcing many sedimentary geologists to critically re-evaluate many aspects of sequence stratigraphy relating to erosion and deposition during base-level (lake- or relative sea-level) fall, and the intrinsic link made between stratal geometries and base-level change. For the first time, this volume brings together a collection of articles that focus solely on forced regressions, providing a more complete picture of the development, formation, variability and preservation of the surfaces and deposits generated during base-level fall.
The results of the studies published here will be of interest to all geologists attempting to understand the relationship between changes in base-level and stratigraphy, and to all who use sequence stratigraphy as a method of stratigraphic correlation and interpretation at outcrop and in the subsurface.