Abstract

The well-exposed Hoogland Member (c. 549 Ma) of the northern Nama Group (Kuibis Subgroup), Namibia, represents a storm-dominated carbonate ramp developed in a foreland basin of terminal Proterozoic age. The ramp displays facies gradients involving updip grainstones which pass downdip into broad, spatially extensive tracts of microbial laminites and finely laminated mudstones deposited above and below storm wave base. Trough cross-bedded, coarse grainstones are shown to transit downdip into finer-grained calcarenites, irregular microbial laminites and mottled laminites. Siliciclastic siltstones and shales were deposited further downdip. Platform growth was terminated through smothering by orogen-derived siliciclastic deposits. Ramp morphology was controlled by several different processes which acted across many orders of magnitude (millimetres to kilometres), including in situ growth of mats and reefs, scouring by wave-produced currents, and transport and infilling of coarse-grained carbonates and fine-grained carbonates and clastics. At the smallest scale, ‘roughening’ of the sea-floor through heterogeneous trapping and binding by microbial mats was balanced by smoothing of the sea-floor through accumulation of loose sediment to fill the topographic lows within the upward-propagating mat. At the next scale up, parasequence development involved roughening of the sea-floor through shoal growth and grainstone progradation, balanced by sea-floor smoothing through shale infilling of resulting downdip accommodation, as well as the metre-scale topographic depressions within the mosaic of shoal-water facies. At even larger (sequence/platform) scales, roughening of the sea-floor occurred through aggradation and progradation of thick carbonates, balanced by infilling of the foreland basin with orogen-derived siliciclastic sediments. At all scales a net balance was achieved between sea-floor roughening and sea-floor smoothing to maintain a more or less constant ramp profile.

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