Sediment gravity flow deposition along the deep-water flanks of carbonate platforms typically does not produce submarine fans. Rather, wedge-shaped carbonate aprons develop parallel to the adjacent shelf/slope break. The major difference between submarine fans and carbonate aprons is a point source with channelized sedimentation on fans, versus a line source with sheet-flow sedimentation on aprons. Two types of carbonate aprons may develop. Along relatively gentle (< 4??) platform-margin slopes, aprons form immediately adjacent to the shallow-water platform and are referred to as carbonate slope aprons. Along relatively steep (4-15??) platform margin slopes, redeposited limestones accumulate in a base-of-slope setting, by-passing an upper slope via a multitude of small submarine canyons, and are referred to as carbonate base-of-slope aprons. Both apron types are further subdivided into inner and outer facies belts. Inner apron sediments consist of thick, mud-supported conglomerates and megabreccias (Facies F) as well as thick, coarse-grained turbidites (Facies A) interbedded with subordinate amounts of fine-grained, peri-platform ooze (Facies G). Outer apron sediments consist of thinner, grain-supported conglomerates and turbidites (Facies A) as well as classical turbidites (Facies C) with recognizable Bouma divisions, interbedded with approximately equal proportions of peri-platform ooze (Facies G). Seaward, aprons grade laterally into basinal facies of thin, base-cut-out carbonate turbidites (Facies D) that are subordinate to peri-platform oozes (Facies G). Carbonate base-of-slope aprons grade shelfward into an upper slope facies of fine-grained peri-platform ooze (Facies G) cut by numerous small canyons that are filled with coarse debris, as well as intraformational truncation surfaces which result from submarine sliding. In contrast, slope aprons grade shelfward immediately into shoal-water, platform-margin facies without an intervening by-pass slope. The two carbonate apron models presented here offer alternatives to the submarine-fan model for paleoenvironmental analysis and hydrocarbon exploration for mass-transported carbonate facies. ?? 1986.
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Carbonate apron models: Alternatives to the submarine fan model for paleoenvironmental analysis and hydrocarbon exploration