Introduction and Synthesis
Carbonate margin, slope, and basinal depositional environments, and their transitions, are highly dynamic and heterogeneous components of carbonate platform systems. Carbonate slopes are of particular interest because they form repositories for volumetrically significant amounts of sediment produced from nearly all carbonate environments, and they form the links between shallow-water carbonate platform settings where prevailing in situ factories reside and their equivalent deeper-water settings dominated by resedimentation processes (e.g., Everts and Reijmer 1995, Playton et al. 2010). Slope environments also provide an extensive stratigraphic record that, although it is preserved differently than platform-top or basinal strata, can be utilized to unravel the growth evolution, sediment factories, and intrinsic to extrinsic parameters that control carbonate platform systems (e.g., Reijmer et al. 1991, Schlager 1992, Della Porta et al. 2004). For example, carbonate slope and basin systems have been shown to be excellent recorders of accommodation change from drivers such as eustatic sea-level fluctuation and tectonic subsidence (Droxler and Schlager 1985, Eberli and Ginsburg 1989, Grammer and Ginsburg 1992, Eberli 2000, Bosence 2005). However, research in recent years has also highlighted the significance and impact of the slope itself on the development of carbonate shelf-to-basin profiles, such as: (1) extensive upper-slope in situ sediment factories that produce a self-feeding slope system that is somewhat independent of typical shallow carbonate controls (e.g., Kenter et al. 2005), (2) slope processes and resulting morphology that are key controls on sediment distribution into the basin (e.g., Playton 2008, Verwer et al. 2009), and (3) impact of slope profile and the emplacement of slope or basin substrate on platform margin progradation (e.g., Eberli et al. 2004, Playton et al. 2010).