Abstract

The middle Miocene onset of modern ocean circulation patterns changed the growth style of isolated tropical carbonate platforms because surface and contour currents began shaping the flanks of these edifices. Since then, ocean currents have redistributed the off-bank–transported sediment, reduced sedimentation by particle sorting or winnowing, and even eroded slopes. As a result, the flanks of isolated carbonate platforms around the world after 13–10 Ma have not only been constructed by mass gravity deposits, but equally by contourites with distinct drift and moat geometries. These produce specific stacking patterns of platform flank deposits. This flank architecture, produced by combined current and gravity processes, is typical of tropical carbonate platforms growing in the Neogene icehouse world. Comparison of this architecture with geometries in older platforms also has the potential to extract information about the rigor of ocean circulation in deep time where the deep-sea record is missing.

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