Primary sedimentary structures combined with the geometry of Devonian and Lower Palaeozoic lithosomes in the Southern Alps (Austria and Italy) suggest many doubts about the published environmental and bathymetric interpretation of some Lower to Middle Devonian pelagic nodular limestones as ‘deep-water’ abyssal deposits. Every graded bed is not necessarily aturbidite; a single or some turbiditic beds are not necessarily deep-water or abyssal deposits; carbonate dissolution does not necessarily take place only below the carbonate compensation depth (CCD). Data show that graded allodapic beds, like those of the Lower to Middle Devonian of the Alps, may have been deposited as storm layers at a depth not exceeding some hundreds of metres. Accordingly the margins between Lower Devonian shallow-water platform and basins were characterized by low gradient and transitional sedimentary conditions. They became very steep only at the Devonian–Carboniferous transition because of synsedimentary block faulting.