Growth and subsidence of carbonate platforms: numerical modelling and application to the Dolomites, Italy

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C. Marella
R. Caputo
A. Bosellini


The phenomenon of subsidence induced by the growth of carbonate platforms has been investigated with the aid of numerical modelling. The research aimed to quantify the relative contribution of this process in the creation of the accommodation space required to pile up thick neritic bodies. We analysed two end-member deformation styles, namely the elastic behaviour of the lithosphere when locally loaded and the plastic-like reaction of a sedimentary succession underlying a growing carbonate buildup. The former process, analysed using a modified flexural model, generates a regional subsidence. In contrast, the latter process, simulated by considering the compaction occurring in soft sediments, generates a local subsidence. We attempted to quantify the amount and distribution of subsidence occurring below and surrounding an isolated platform and in the adjacent basin. The major parameters playing a role in the process are discussed in detail. The model is then applied to the Late Anisian-Early Ladinian generation of carbonate platforms of the Dolomites, Northern Italy, where they are spectacularly exposed. Taking also into account the Tertiary shortening that occurred in the area, both local and regional subsidence contributions of major platform bodies have been calculated aimed at a reconstruction of the
map of the induced subsidence. A major outcome of this study is that the accommodation space, that allowed the accumulation of very thick shallow-water carbonate successions in the Dolomites, was only partially due to lithospheric stretching while the contribution given by the 'local' overload is as high as 20-40% of the total subsidence. Our results also shed some light on the water-depth problem of the Triassic basins as well as on the basin-depth to platform-thickness relationships.

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Marella C, Caputo R, Bosellini A. Growth and subsidence of carbonate platforms: numerical modelling and application to the Dolomites, Italy. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2004Dec.25 [cited 2021Sep.25];47(5). Available from: