The maximum flooding event within a depositional sequence is an important datum for correlation because it represents a virtually synchronous horizon. This event is typically recognized by a distinctive physical surface and/or a significant change in microfossil assemblages (relative fossil abundance peaks) in siliciclastic deposits from shoreline to continental slope environments in a passive margin setting. Recognition of maximum flooding events in mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sediments is more complicated because the entire section usually represents deposition in continental shelf environments with varying rates of biologic and carbonate productivity versus siliciclastic influx. Hence, this event cannot be consistently identified simply by relative fossil abundance peaks. Factors such as siliciclastic input, carbonate productivity, sediment accumulation rates, and paleoenvironmental conditions dramatically affect the relative abundances of microfossils. Failure to recognize these complications can lead to a sequence stratigraphic interpretation that substantially overestimates the number of depositional sequences of 1 to 10 m.y. duration.

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