Abstract

The interplay of sea-level fall, climate, and sedimentological changes is recorded across two sequence boundaries at the top of two Triassic carbonate platform systems in the Western Tethys (earliest Carnian and Norian-Rhaetian boundary in age, paleolatitude 18°–25° N). The sea-level falls caused subaerial exposure of the platform top and decreased carbonate production, leading to starvation in the intraplatform basins, followed by deposition of shale. Evidence of freshwater input indicates that the change in sedimentation was driven by increased rainfall on the previously arid European hinterland and Tethys coast. A uniformitarian approach (Holocene sea-level changes and global warming are coupled with changes in the distribution of precipitation) implicates global cooling as the probable cause of the observed sea-level, climate, and sedimentological changes. Global cooling likely triggered the sea-level fall by increased storage of fresh water in continental settings and change in seawater density, probably coupled with ephemeral ice sheet development, possible even during greenhouse intervals such as the Triassic. Furthermore, global cooling caused a shift toward the equator of the poleward boundary of the arid belt. This model is supported by the traceability of the sequence boundaries and climate-sensitive facies from the Tethys shelf up to the European continent. The observed association of global climate changes, sea-level fall, sedimentological changes, and shift toward humid climate documents how climate-sensitive facies record the control exerted by global changes on local sedimentation.

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