Abstract

Although turbidite facies reflect only processes of deposition, turbidite facies associations are routinely used to identify ancient submarine-fan subenvironments (e.g., upper fan, channel, lobe, etc.). The assumption that process of deposition also reflects environment of deposition may not be valid for the following reasons: (1) Mutti and Ricci Lucchi's facies association scheme for submarine fans has been developed exclusively from ancient turbidite sequences; however, the true relationship between such turbidite facies associations and related fan subenvironments has not been confirmed from modern fans; (2) individual channel-levee systems of many modern submarine fans are in many cases large enough to contain the entire ancient fan systems on which these facies associations are based; (3) large channel-levee systems comparable to those of modern fans have not been recognized in outcrops. Consequently, the validity of turbidite facies associations for interpreting ancient submarine-fan subenvironments must be considered tenuous until confirmed in modern fans.

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