Computer Simulation of a Cainozoic Carbonate Platform, Marion Plateau, North-East Australia

  1. G. F. Camoin5 and
  2. P. J. Davies6
  1. K. Liu1,†,
  2. C. J. Pigram2,
  3. L. Paterson1 and
  4. C. G. St C. Kendall3

Published Online: 27 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304879.ch8

Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

How to Cite

Liu, K., Pigram, C. J., Paterson, L. and Kendall, C. G. S. C. (1998) Computer Simulation of a Cainozoic Carbonate Platform, Marion Plateau, North-East Australia, in Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans (eds G. F. Camoin and P. J. Davies), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304879.ch8

Editor Information

  1. 5

    CEREGE, Aix-en-Provence, France

  2. 6

    University of Sydney, Australia

Author Information

  1. 1

    Australian Petroleum Cooperative Research Centre, CSIRO Division of Petroleum Resources, PO Box 3000, Glen Waverley, Vic. 3150, Australia

  2. 2

    Marine, Petroleum and Sedimentary Resources Program, Australian Geological Survey Organisation, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia

  3. 3

    Department of Geological Sciences, The University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA

  1. School of Earth Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 23 MAR 1998

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632047789

Online ISBN: 9781444304879



  • depositional modelling computer program;
  • computer simulation of carbonate platform;
  • SEDPAK computer program;
  • carbonate platform modelling and EXXON global sea-level curve;
  • seismic sequences and platform events


The characteristics of the Marion Plateau carbonate platform in north-east Australia were simulated from the Early Miocene to the present using a depositional modelling computer program, SEDPAK. The simulation mimics the platform architecture and geometry seen on seismic lines and it supports an existing depositional model constructed from the study of the seismic stratigraphy and the sedimentological and palaeontological data obtained from ODP cores.

The simulation sequentially unravels the evolutionary history of the initiation, development and demise of the platform, in particular the two Miocene platform events (MP2 and MP3). The Early Miocene MP2 platform was initiated around 20 Ma during a sea-level rise. It evolved through four major platform-building phases in response to sea-level rises and highstands of third-order cycles. The growth of the MP2 platform was dominated by platform progradation. The Late Miocene platform (MP3) was initiated on the basinal facies of the MP2 platform during the Late Miocene lowstand around 10.2 Ma. The MP3 platform developed through four platform-building stages during the Late Miocene second-order sea-level rise. It was dominated by platform aggradation. The MP3 platform was drowned in the early Pliocene (c. 4 Ma) by an abrupt tectonic pulse coupled with a sea-level rise.

The MP2 platform was exposed during most of the Middle and Late Miocene (14–6 Ma) and was reflooded in the latest Miocene. It was drowned in the early Pliocene as a result of the tectonic pulse. Since the drowning in the early Pliocene, the Marion Plateau has largely remained in a bathyal environment and it is now covered by Pliocene–Holocene hemipelagic sediments.

The simulation has shown that the architecture and geometry of the Marion Plateau carbonate platform can be modelled using the third-order cycles of the EXXON global sea-level curve. The platform-building phases are shown to have occurred during periods of sea-level rises and highstands. During periods of sea-level falls and lowstands, platforms were marked by hiatuses. The sea-level positions in the Late Miocene (from 10 to 6 Ma) in the Marion Plateau region are found to be over 100 m lower on average than that suggested by the EXXON sea-level curve.

This study has also demonstrated that sedimentary simulation is useful in testing seismic interpretations and quantitatively estimating the influences of various factors on carbonate platform evolution, namely carbonate production rate, sea-level, tectonic pulse, initial basin shape and depositional processes.