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This paper describes the deposition of Miocene carbonates around Sarawak in a tectono-stratigraphic framework. The onset, termination, and location of the two main carbonate units, the Subis or Lower Cycle II limestones and the Luconia limestone, were controlled by tectonic processes, each beginning with a subsidence event, and terminated by influxes of siliciclastic sediments due to hinterland uplift. New data are presented on the intra–late Miocene decline of Luconia Limestone platforms that is correlated to the uplift of onshore Sarawak (Tinjar Province) and renewed siliciclastic sedimentation, which is dated as being at the same time as major uplift in northern Borneo.

Miocene sedimentation around Sarawak was controlled mostly by extensional tectonics with several rapid subsidence events, which produced transgressive unconformities with mappable focal areas. Away from these focal areas, the contrast in facies, before and after the event, gradually diminishes in a predictable manner. This property of the unconformity is governed by Walther’s Law in that one well or field section cannot be exempt from the mappable trends in facies contrast observed in surrounding wells. This relationship constrains the interpretation of seismic, mapping, and analytical data, as illustrated by an example of a misdated unconformity that previously violated this balance of facies change in space and time.

The tectono-stratigraphic model is a refinement of an existing empirical scheme devised in the area, with units called “Cycles” (Cycles I to VIII). This evidence-based framework is argued to be a genetic description of depositional units that developed in a dynamically evolving depocenter, subject to geographic rotation and relative variations in sea level that were dependent on location. This shifting basin configuration precludes use of a passive margin sequence stratigraphic approach, which assumes and requires a constant proximal to distal sedimentary direction and steady basement subsidence.

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