The stratigraphic evolution of onlap in siliciclastic deep-water systems: Autogenic modulation of allogenic signals

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Euan Soutter , Ian A. Kane, Arne Fuhrmann, Zoe Adele Cumberpatch, Mads Huuse


Seafloor topography affects the sediment gravity flows that interact with it. Understanding this interaction is critical for accurate predictions of sediment distribution, paleogeography, and structural reconstructions of deep-water basins. The effects of seafloor topography can be seen from the bed scale, through facies transitions toward intra-basinal slopes, to the basin scale, where onlap patterns reveal the spatial evolution of deep-water systems. Basin-margin onlap patterns are typically attributed to allogenic factors, such as sediment supply signals or subsidence rates, with few studies emphasizing the importance of predictable spatio-temporal autogenic flow evolution. This study aims to assess the autogenic controls on onlap by documenting onlap styles in the confined Eocene-to-Oligocene deep-marine Annot Basin of SE France. Measured sections, coupled with architectural observations, mapping, and paleogeographical interpretations, are used to categorize onlap styles and place them within a generic stratigraphic model. These observations are compared with a simple numerical model. The integrated stratigraphic model predicts that during progradation of a deep-water system into a confined basin successive onlap terminations will be partially controlled by the effect of increasing flow concentration. Initially thin-bedded low-density turbidites of the distal lobe fringe are deposited and drape basinal topography. As the system progrades these beds become overlain by hybrid beds and other deposits of higher-concentration flows developed in the proximal lobe fringe. This transition is therefore marked by intra-formational onlap against the underlying and lower-concentration lobe fringe that drapes the topography. Continued progradation results in deposition of lower-concentration deposits in the lobe off-axis, resulting in either further intra-formational onlap against the lobe fringe or onlap directly against the hemipelagic basin margin. Basinal relief is gradually reduced as axial and higher-volume flows become more prevalent during progradation, causing the basin to become a bypass zone for sediment routed down-dip. This study presents an autogenic mechanism for generating complex onlap trends without the need to invoke allogenic processes. This has implications for sequence-stratigraphic interpretations, basin subsidence history, and forward modeling of confined deep-water basins.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sedimentology, Stratigraphy


confined basin, submarine lobe, autogenic, Grès d'Annot, onlap


Published: 2019-04-09 21:46

Last Updated: 2019-10-02 11:18

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