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Abstract

The Tertiary Piedmont Basin was reshaped as the Apennines progressively overrode the Alpine retroforeland. Nine basin-wide unconformities were followed by abrupt accommodation turnarounds or high-accommodation/high sediment supply intervals. Unusual stratigraphic discontinuities require a different perspective to reconcile allostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy, highlighting a wider range of tectonically driven discontinuities (subaerial/subaqueous/regressive/transgressive), diachronism of accommodation and sediment–fairway turnarounds, unusual routing to deepwater, and relationships between fourth- and fifth-order sequences. This approach allows innovative play concepts and prediction of reservoir heterogeneity. Steep gradients and high sediment fluxes favour the development of coarse-grained deltas dominated by hyperpycnal processes and large-scale instability/sediment failures, often expressed by retrogressive slump scars, owing to over-steepening generated by drowning unconformities related to orogenic collapse or basin inversion. During increasing-accommodation intervals, subaqueous erosion leaves remnants of drowned deltas forming stratigraphic traps sealed by prodelta-slope muds. The sediments removed feed turbidites, generated during transgressive intervals and deposited at the toe of oversteepened slopes. These may eventually back-fill the slump scar system and show a fining-upward stacking-pattern owing to the re-establishment of the equilibrium profile. Another play concept relies on the combination of onlapping non-marine to marginal marine deposits against fault-bounded basement highs, sealed by marine muds deposited during the subsequent drowning.

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