Role of initial depth at basin margins in sequence architecture: field examples and computer models
A delay in the onset of sedimentation during fault-related subsidence at a basin margin can occur in both extensional settings, where footwall tilting may cause a diversion of drainage patterns, and in strike-slip basins, where a source area may be translated along the basin margin. The \\\\\\\'initial depth\\\\\\\' created by this delay acts as pre-depositional accommodation and is a partly independent variable. It controls the geometry of the first stratal units deposited at the basin margin and thus modifies the response of the depositional system to subsequent, syndepositional changes in accommodation. In systems with a sharp break in the depositional profile, such as the topset edge in coarse-grained deltas, the initial depth controls the foreset height and therefore the progradational distance of the topset edge. The topset length, in turn, influences topset accommodation during cyclical base level variations and therefore is reflected in the resulting stacking patterns at both long- and short-term time scales. In the simplified cases modelled in this study, it is the relationship between the initial depth and the net increase in depth over the interval of a relative sea-level cycle (AH) that governs long- and short-term stacking patterns. In situations where the initial depth is significantly larger than AH, the topset accommodation of the first delta is insufficient to contain the volume of sediment of younger sequences formed during subsequent relative sea-level cycles. Therefore, the depositional system tends to prograde over a number of relative sea-level cycles before the topset area increases so that the long-term stacking pattern changes to aggradation. Stacking patterns of high-frequency sequences are influenced by a combination of topset accommodation available and position of the short-term relative sea-level cycles on the rising or falling limb of a long-term sea-level curve. This determines whether deposits of short-term cycles are accommodated in delta topsets or foresets, or in both. Variations in stacking pattern caused by different initial depths may be misinterpreted as due to relative sea level or sediment supply changes and it is necessary to consider initial bathymetry in modelling and interpretation of stacking patterns, especially in fault-bounded basins.