Sequence biostratigraphic analyses from five industry wells in the Northern Carnarvon Basin (NCB), Western Australia, are tied to seismic stratigraphic interpretations from a set of 3D and 2D seismic data. Distribution patterns of ∼286 benthic and 73 planktonic foraminiferal taxa in sidewall cores and ditch cuttings from Eocene to Pliocene intervals are documented and supplemented with observations of other fossil groups (e.g., fragments of ostracodes, bryozoans, corals, and mollusks) and lithological components such as calcite cement and quartz sand.
Preservation of foraminiferal assemblages is extremely variable in latest Eocene to Pliocene stratigraphy, depending upon the location of wells and the interval investigated. Nonetheless, consistent, detectable faunal signals correlate between wells and with prominent seismic horizons and sequences. The late Oligocene to middle Miocene is characterized by deeper-water benthic assemblages dominated by infaunal taxa and a high planktonic abundance. Stratigraphic events in the middle Miocene, including turnover in benthic foraminifera, are interpreted to record a regional flooding event (equivalent to cycle Tejas B (TB) 2.3) at the beginning of the mid-Miocene climatic optimum (∼16–14.5 Ma). Following this event, seismically defined geomorphic features include karstification on the shelf and incision on the clinoform front.
All wells show a major transition to shallow-water, warm conditions on the shelf in the middle and late Miocene, with benthic assemblages dominated by larger foraminifera. This transition appears higher in more-basinward wells and appears to be a result of progradation. Geomorphic features in the late middle Miocene (∼12 Ma) identified from 3D seismic analyses show an intensification of earlier gully formation, resulting in the development of submarine canyons. Detailed analyses of faunal patterns also provide evidence of higher-frequency sea-level fluctuations (0.5–3 Ma), not detected in the seismic stratigraphic patterns.