ABSTRACT

Mass-transport deposits (MTDs) represent resedimentation phenomena triggered by the combined effect of seismic shocks of regional scale, structural tilting, basin-floor gradient, relative sea-level fluctuations, and/or excess pore-water pressure and can be useful in the reconstruction of basin development dynamics. The present study from the Dinaric Foreland Basin in Croatia documents several limestone blocks (olistoliths), carbonate debris, and associated bipartite carbonate megabeds as MTDs of exotic origin encased in deep neritic hyperpycnites, referred to as host deposits. Detailed facies and micropaleontological analyses indicate that host deposits were sourced from a fluvio-deltaic system located in the proximity of the uplifting orogen, while the MTDs originated from gravitational collapses of late Ypresian and early Lutetian limestones that were uplifted on blind-thrust anticline ridges on the opposite side of the basin. Mass wasting-produced carbonate blocks, debris, and gravity flows were probably triggered concurrently during the middle to late Eocene, but the blocks could have travelled faster downslope due to the lubricating effect of the underlying water “cushion,” overpressured mud, and the pull of gravity. Debrisflows and co-genetic turbidity currents that contributed to the formation of bipartite megabeds were likely mobilized deeper and moved slower than the carbonate blocks and could have been partly deflected by the previously emplaced olistoliths, resulting in megabed thinning along the olistoliths' down-dip edges. Those collapses were most likely triggered by the combined effect of relative sea-level changes associated with tectonic activity and seismic shocks of regional scale. The study suggests that progressive uplift of the frontal blind-thrust anticline ridge resulted in episodic emergence and collapses of progressively older limestone units, and marked the onset of development of the wedge-top basin. Conceptual models of olistolith emplacement and onset of basin development are suggested and may be applicable to both ancient and recent settings. The insights obtained from the integration of detailed facies analysis and micropaleontology may be useful in similar areas where such a level of detail cannot be obtained by conventional field methods.

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