The Formation and Drowning of Isolated Carbonate Seamounts: Tectonic and Ecological Controls in the Northern Apennines

  1. Maurice E. Tucker4,
  2. James Lee Wilson5,
  3. Paul D. Crevello6,
  4. J. Rick Sarg7 and
  5. J. Fred Read8
  1. D. M. Bice and
  2. K. G. Stewart

Published Online: 15 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303834.ch6

Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution

Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution

How to Cite

Bice, D. M. and Stewart, K. G. (1986) The Formation and Drowning of Isolated Carbonate Seamounts: Tectonic and Ecological Controls in the Northern Apennines, in Carbonate Platforms: Facies, Sequences and Evolution (eds M. E. Tucker, J. L. Wilson, P. D. Crevello, J. Rick Sarg and J. F. Read), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303834.ch6

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Durham, UK

  2. 5

    New Braunfels, Texas, USA

  3. 6

    Littleton, Colorado, USA

  4. 7

    Midland, Texas, USA

  5. 8

    Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Author Information

  1. Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

  1. Department of Geology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057, USA

  2. Department of Geology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 22 DEC 1986

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632027583

Online ISBN: 9781444303834



  • formation and drowning of isolate carbonate seamounts – tectonic and ecological controls in northern Apennines;
  • tectonic setting;
  • drowning in northern Apennines;
  • Bugarone formation;
  • hermatypic corals


During the early Jurassic, a large carbonate platform–the Calcare Massiccio platform–developed on the Italian continental crust. The subsequent opening of the Liguride Ocean produced a continental margin that thinned and extended along a complex system of intersecting normal faults in the area that is now the northern Apennines. These normal faults fragmented the pre-existing Calcare Massiccio platform, producing a group of small, isolated seamounts separated by interconnected sub-basins up to 1 km deep. The eventual drowning of these seamounts had a profound effect on the later history of the entire basin, and accounts for the stratigraphic differences between the northern Apennines and the adjacent central Apennines, an area that was not broken up to the same extent by normal faulting. Studies of the sedimentologic and stratigraphic record indicate that the drowning resulted from a combination of tectonic and ecologic factors. The drowning appears to have occurred in two stages; an incipient stage, characterized by water depths well within the euphotic zone and abnormally low rates of sediment production and accumulation, and a complete, or terminal, stage in which the seamount tops dropped well below the euphotic zone. The transition between these two stages of drowning was most likely due to the inability of the seamount tops to produce and accumulate enough sediment to maintain a shallow-water position. This inability can be attributed to a variety of tectonic and ecologic factors: the lack of effective reef-builders, the lack of fringing, elevated rims, the small sizes of the seamount tops, the incursion of colder, less saline waters into the basins, crustal subsidence and eustatic sea-level changes. The evolution of these seamounts demonstrates the important controls that plate tectonics and the history of organisms can have on the development of a sedimentary basin.