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ABSTRACT

The Aptian to lowermost Albian carbonate platform of Castro Urdiales (Cantabria, northern Spain) was broken up by extensional tectonic movements shortly after the beginning of the Albian. Block faulting characterized this rifting episode, the effects of which waned during the Albian. In crestal locations tilting of the fault blocks caused the subaerial exposure of parts of the older platform, resulting in intense karst diagenesis. Differential subsidence of the blocks controlled the development of a crestal residual carbonate platform (Arenillas), which was surrounded by deeper water on both sides. Seven unconformities related to platform exposure and karstification are identified on the Arenillas platform, and form the basal boundaries of seven depositional sequences (S1-S7). On the platform, lowstand systems tract deposits consist of breccias filling caves, and grainstones and debris flow deposits filling incised canyons. Transgressive plus highstand systems tracts consist of rare marls plus shallow water rudistid, coral and chondrodontid limestones. In the basin, the unconformities are erosional surfaces at the base of resedimented limestones, marls or sandy or silty siliciclastics (lowstand systems tracts). Transgressive plus highstand systems tracts in this setting consist of marls and hemipelagic marly limestones. Tectonism is believed to be the main control on sequence formation, and only a few sequence boundaries (e.g. the base of S6 in the Upper Albian inflatum Zone) can be correlated with eustatic events.