Journal article

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Eustasy is a key parameter to understand sedimentary sequences on continental margins and to reconstruct continental ice volume in the Cenozoic, but timing and magnitude of global sea level changes remain controversial, especially for the Miocene Epoch. We analyzed sediment cores recovered from the Marion Plateau, offshore northeastern Australia, during Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 194 to define the mechanisms and timing of sequence formation on mixed carbonate-siliciclastic margins, and to estimate the amplitude of Miocene eustatic adjustments. We identified sequence boundaries on seismic reflection lines, significantly revised the existing biostratigraphic age models, and investigated the sedimentary response to sea-level changes across the Marion Plateau. We subdivided the Miocene sediments into three sequence sets comprising a set of prograding clinoforms, a muddy prograding carbonate ramp evolving into an aggrading platform, and a lowstand ramp evolving into a backstepping ramp. We recognized eight individual sequences dated at 18.0 Ma, 17.2 Ma, 16.5 Ma, 15.4 Ma, 14.7 Ma, 13.9 Ma, 13.0 Ma, and 11.9 Ma. We demonstrate that sequences on the Marion Plateau are controlled by glacio-eustasy since sequence boundaries are marked by increases in delta(18)O (deep-sea Miocene isotope events Mi1b, Mbi-3, Mi2, Mi2a, Mi3a, Mi3, Mi4, and Mi5, respectively), which reflects increased ice volume primarily on Antarctica. Our backstripping estimates suggest that sea-level fell by 26-28 m at 16.5 Ma, 26-29 m at 15.4 Ma, 29-38 m at 14.7 Ma, and 53-81 m at 13.9 Ma. Combining backstripping with delta(18)O estimates yields sea-level fall amplitudes of 27 +/- 1 m at 16.5 Ma, 27 +/- 1 m at 15.4 Ma, 33 +/- 3 m at 14.7 Ma, and 59 +/- 6 m at 13.9 Ma. We use a similar approach to estimate eustatic rises of 19 +/- 1 m between 16.5 and 15.4 Ma, 23 +/- 3 m between 15.4 and 14.7 Ma, and 33 +/- 3 m between 14.7 and 13.9 Ma. These estimates can be combined into a eustatic curve that suggests that sea-level fell by 53-69 m between 16.5 and 13.9 Ma. This implies that at least 90% of the East Antarctic Icesheet was formed during the middle Miocene. The new independent amplitude estimates are crucial as the Miocene is the geologic Epoch for which the New Jersey margin sea-level record is poorly constrained. (C) 2011 Elsevier By. All rights reserved.

Publication date: 
Friday, April 15, 2011