Carbonate platform-to-basin correlation by means of grain-composition logs: an example from the Vercors (Cretaceous, SE France)



Quantitative logs of grain composition for several sections of platform top and flank of the Vercors carbonate platform (Early Cretaceous, SE France) provide platform-to-basin correlation with a resolution of a few metres over an area of 70 km2. Grain composition was determined by point-counting thin sections. Point-count groups that characterize palaeoenvironmental realms (i.e. open sea, platform margin) were defined for the platform–basin trajectory. Grain-composition logs revealed marked peaks in the number of open-sea biota and peaks in ooid abundance. The peaks in open-sea biota correspond to back-stepping intervals and deepening upward facies successions at the platform margin. These peaks probably relate to incipient drowning of the platform and may be used to delineate marine-flooding surface-bounded sequences. Peaks in ooid occurrence show no relationship with the progradation, aggradation or retreat of the platform. Apparently, the oolitic sands were not part of a facies tract that shifted up and down the platform. Instead, they represent a depositional mode that was either on or off. Times of prolific ooid production and shedding probably occurred during wide but shallow submergence of the platform, accompanied by suitable water chemistry. Peaks in both ooids and open-sea biota are excellent markers for platform-to-basin correlation, as they are recorded in successions on the platform top as well as on the flank. Altogether, the grain-composition logs show that each of the lithologically rather similar platform tongues of the Vercors has a unique signature or compositional fingerprint. These compositional fingerprints are most helpful in evaluating the lateral extent of different stratigraphic units. In outcrops of the Vercors platform, the physical tracing of bedding surfaces delineate wedges of toe-of-slope sediments that show a conspicuous thinning towards the platform. However, our correlation shows that these sediment bodies are not truly basin-restricted wedges but have a platform top equivalent. This implies that these units were, at least partly, deposited during high stands of sea level that flooded the platform.