Ancient Slopes

Ancient carbonate slopes

Gargano, Italy

Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas
A photograph (top) and the paleo-environmental reconstruction (bottom) of the western escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains.
 McKittrick Canyon interfaced with the Delaware basin, West Texas


Ancient slopes occur along ancient passive margins and are classically recognized on the basis of the geometries and sedimentary sequences they exhibit preserved in the rock record. These deepwater slope deposits were developed together with rimmed carbonate shelves and have been preserved along off-shore margins of intercontinental seaways (Stoudt, 2000). Subsequent uplift has exposed many ancient slope sequences that have been used for as analogues for this depositional setting. Ancient carbonate slopes have been preserved throughout geologic history and are easily observed in outcrops on all of the continents (refer to the Comparison table for additional information).

Examples of preserved ancient slope sequences include:
  • McKittrick Canyon- West Texas
  • Northern Italy-Triassic
  • Eastern Italy-Jurassic
  • Vercors, France-Cretaceous
  • Lake Valley formation, San Andreas Mountains-California-Cretaceous
  • Eastern Venezula basin-South America-Cretaceous
    (Stoudt, 2000) & (Reinstroffer and Kendall, 2000)

Sedimentary rock types of ancient carbonate slopes

Lower margin and slope carbonates
turbidite sequences associated with gravity flows
  • Debris flows
  • Grain flows
Click here to view comparison chart
Click here to view modern slopes

References and Sources:
Tucker, M.E., and P.V. Wright, 1990, carbonate Sedimentology, Blackwell Scientific Publications: Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ancient Slopes

Monday, April 08, 2013
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