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Keywords:

  • Archipelago;
  • Cambrian;
  • epeiric sea;
  • mixed carbonate–siliciclastic environments;
  • North China Platform

Abstract

To understand the depositional processes and environmental changes during the initial flooding of the North China Platform, this study focuses on the Lower to Middle Cambrian Zhushadong and Mantou formations in Shandong Province, China. The succession in the Jinan and Laiwu areas comprises mixed carbonate and siliciclastic deposits composed of limestone, dolostone, stromatolite, thrombolite, purple and grey mudstone, and sandstone. A detailed sedimentary facies analysis of seven well-exposed sections suggests that five facies associations are the result of an intercalation of carbonate and siliciclastic depositional environments, including local alluvial fans, shallowing-upward carbonate–siliciclastic peritidal cycles, oolite dominant shoals, shoreface and lagoonal environments. These facies associations successively show a transition from an initially inundated tide-dominated carbonate platform to a wave-dominated shallow marine environment. In particular, the peritidal sediments were deposited during a large number of depositional cycles. These sediments consist of lime mudstone, dolomite, stromatolite and purple and grey mudstones. These shallowing-upward cycles generally resulted from carbonate production in response to an increase of accommodation during rising sea-level. The carbonate production was, however, interrupted by frequent siliciclastic input from the adjacent emergent archipelago. The depositional cycles thus formed under the influence of both autogenetic changes, including sediment supply from the archipelago, and allogenic control of relative sea-level rise in the carbonate factory. A low-relief archipelago with an active tidal regime allowed the development of tide-dominated siliciclastic and carbonate environments on the vast platform. Siliciclastic input to these tidal environments terminated when most of the archipelago became submerged due to a rapid rise in sea-level. This study provides insights on how a vast Cambrian carbonate platform maintained synchronous sedimentation under a tidal regime, forming distinct cycles of mixed carbonates and siliciclastics as the system kept up with rising relative sea-level during the early stage of basin development in the North China Platform.