Offshore remobilization processes and deposits in low-energy temperate-water carbonate-ramp systems: Examples from the Neogene basins of the Betic Cordillera (SE Spain)

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    basins of the Betic Cordiller

    ngel Puga-Bernabu , Jos M. MDepartamento de Estratigrafa y Paleontologa, Facultad de C

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:Received 8 August 2013Received in revised form 31 January 2014Accepted 2 February 2014Available online 8 February 2014

    Editor: B. Jones

    Offshore resedimentation is consistent with a highstand shedding model in the case of storm-driven event de-

    r B.V. All rights reserved.

    ta on aspects such as

    Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127

    Contents lists available at ScienceDirect


    e lsIn the last three decades, research on the temperate/cool-watersequence stratigraphy applied to temperate/cool-water carbonates(Pedley and Grasso, 2002; Betzler et al., 2005; Massari and Chiocci,carbonate-depositional realm has signicantly expanded knowledge 2006), diagenetic changes (Knoerich and Mutti, 2003; Smith andgions such as the Mediterranean Sea. 2014 Elsevie

    1. Introduction 2006a). All these studies have provided new daposits (storm beds, sediment gravity ows and deposits with HCSSCS) while offshore directed and persistentunidirectional currents generated prograding margin clinoforms during falling and low sea levels.This review provides a concise depositional framework to understand the different redeposition processes oper-ating in low-energy, temperate-water carbonate ramps and to interpret remobilized deposits in low-energy re-on these previously poorly-understood typesdegree of comprehension comparable to tha(Nelson, 1988; James and Clarke, 1997; P

    Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 958 242721; fax: +E-mail address: (. Puga-Bernabu).

    0037-0738/$ see front matter 2014 Elsevier B.V. All ri of currents within the basin was the main factor controlling the formation of downslope migratingsandwaves. In the case of channel and lobe deposits, hydrodynamic-ow behaviour through the channels andat the transition point conditioned the features of the resulting deposits.Keywords:Sediment transportRedeposition processesStormsCarbonate depositionCarbonate factoryWestern Mediterraneana (SE Spain)

    artn, Juan C. Braga, Julio Aguirreiencias, Campus de Fuentenueva s.n., Universidad de Granada, 18002 Granada, Spain

    a b s t r a c t

    General facies models developed for modern and ancient Mediterranean temperate-water carbonates in the lasttwo decades have shown that the style of deposition on outer-ramp, slope, and basin environments in low-energy areas such as the Mediterranean Sea differs overall from that of high-energy open-ocean areas, giventhe wider variety of smaller-scale topographic and hydrodynamic conditions in the former setting. However,these depositional models generally lack relevant information about sedimentary processes, transport mecha-nisms and controlling factors on offshore sediment redeposition, which are potential sources of informationfor sequence stratigraphic, palaeoclimate and exploration studies. Several examples from the Neogene Betic ba-sins of thewesternMediterranean region have been selected to integrate the processes and controlling factors onthe offshore sediment transport and the resulting deposits. Additional published data from other Mediterraneanlocalities have also been considered.An idealized model of temperate-water carbonate deposition in the study examples comprises a shallow-watercoastal belt and a shoal area developed landwards of a carbonate-factory zone, and deeper-water outer-ramp,slope, and basin settings below the storm wave base. The environments off the factory bear a variety ofremobilized deposits characterized by distinctive features. These deposits include storm shell beds, sedimentgravity ows (debrites and turbidites), bed packages with hummocky and swaley cross-stratication (HCS andSCS), slope sandwaves, and channel as well as lobe deposits.The different types of redeposited facies resulted from various offshore sediment-transport processes interactingwith the local conditions. Storm shell beds developed in low-energy protected basins, regardless of the ramppro-le. Debrites and turbidites formed in the distal parts of moderately-steep ramps within moderately energetichydrodynamic contexts. Similar gradients but with higher hydrodynamic energy and appropriate sedimentgrain size favoured the formation of deposits with HCS and SCS in relatively deep-water settings. The circulationtemperate-water carbonate-ramp systems: Examples from the NeogeneReview

    Offshore remobilization processes and dep

    j ourna l homepage: www.of deposits, achieving at of tropical carbonatesedley and Carannante,

    34 958 248528.

    ghts reserved.its in low-energy

    y Geology

    ev ie r .com/ locate /sedgeoNelson, 2003; Rivers et al., 2008), diversity of the carbonate factoryareas across the different ramp settings (Martn et al., 2004; Nalin andMassari, 2009; Moissette et al., 2010; James et al., 2013) and geometryof the carbonate units (Hansen, 1999; Benisek et al., 2010; Tomaset al., 2010). One relevant aspect has been the better characterizationof the outer-ramp, slope, and basin-transition settings (Braga et al.,

  • 12 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 11272006a; Forns and Ahr, 2006; Betzler et al., 2011; James and Bone,2011), as well as the better understanding of the processes and control-ling factors of offshore sediment transport and the resulting deposits(Butler et al., 1997; James et al., 2009; Puga-Bernabu et al., 2009;Anderskouv et al., 2010). This issue is especially important in low-energy areas such as the Mediterranean Sea. The Present-day Mediter-ranean is a microtidal, wave-dominated sea (ca. 0.3 m tidal range;Albrola et al., 1995), with the fair-weather wave base at ~35-mdepth (Shipp, 1984) and the storm-weather wave base at ~2025-mdepth, down to 40 m under severe storm conditions (Backstrom et al.,2008; Vacchi et al., 2012). As a consequence, in the Mediterranean Seathe style of carbonate deposition in offshore settings differs from thatof high-energy, open-ocean temperate/cool-water carbonate platforms(Pedley and Carannante, 2006b). The best-represented examples of thelatter are the modern and ancient shelves from southern Australia(James and Bone, 1991, 2011; Boreen and James, 1995). The SouthAustralian Continental Margin constitutes a wide shelf (up to hundredsof kilometres) with well-developed PleistoceneHolocene progradingslope clinoforms. In this setting, carbonate deposition is powerfully inu-enced by a high-energy, swell dominated hydrodynamic regime (Jamesand von der Borch, 1991; James et al., 2001), which results in three dis-crete zones of sedimentation: a shallow neritic zone with carbonateproduction and landward sediment transport; a middle neritic zonecharacterized by sediment reworking; and a deep neritic and upperslope zone of high sediment accumulation (James and Bone, 2011). Incontrast to the open-ocean carbonate platforms, the sediment transportand deposition mechanisms, as well as the resulting deposits, can behighly diverse in theMediterranean ramps, as a result of a wider varietyof topographic and hydrodynamic conditions (Martn et al., 1996, 2004,2009; Forns and Ahr, 1997, 2006; Betzler et al., 2000, 2011; Tropeanoand Sabato, 2000; Pedley and Grasso, 2002; Braga et al., 2003;Titschack et al., 2005; Vigorito et al., 2005; Longhitano et al., 2010).

    General facies models for modern and ancient Mediterraneantemperate-water carbonates illustrate the facies distribution anddepth-controlled biogenic components on the carbonate ramps(Carannante et al., 1988; Forns and Ahr, 1997; Pedley and Grasso,2002; Braga et al., 2006a; Betzler et al., 2011), but they overall overlookdepositional features related to offshore sediment redeposition. Withinthe Mediterranean region, most examples of offshore redeposited sedi-ments come from outcrops in southern Spain, Italy and Greece. Howev-er, these outcrops are disconnected, the information is scatteredthroughout the scientic literature and it often includes only general in-terpretations of the remobilized deposits, disregarding the factors con-trolling the offshore transport (Glser and Betzler, 2002; Pedley andGrasso, 2002; Dermitzakis et al., 2009; Reynaud and James, 2012).

    The aim of this review is to synthesize the information on the off-shore redeposition mechanisms and controlling factors on Mediterra-nean low-energy temperate-water carbonate ramp systems, as well asthe main sedimentary characteristics of the resulting deposits. Themain plausible scenarios are referred to using specic examples fromthe Neogene Betic basins, which are also compared with other similarMediterranean cases. An integrated model for offshore redeposition ispresented, highlighting the wide variability of redeposited faciesfound within these basins, and nally, a synthesis of the sea level, tec-tonics and climate controls. The excellent quality of the outcrop expo-sures and broad facies variability within precise sedimentary contextsin the Neogene Betic basins provide a solid foundation and a useful de-positional framework for interpreting similar deposits not only in Med-iterranean regions and in the Neogene, but in other areas and epochs,especially where outcrops are dispersed and/or poorly-preserved.

    2.Overviewof the temperate-water carbonate ramps in theNeogeneBetic basins

    The Neogene Betic basins formed and evolved as a result of the uplift

    of the Betic Cordillera, the westernmost segment of the Alpine orogenicbelt, during theMiocene (Weijermars, 1991). Twomajor types of basinscan be recognized, the Atlantic-linked and the Mediterranean-linkedbasins, with some narrow marine passages (straits) connecting themin the early uplifting stages (Martn et al., 2001, 2009; Betzler et al.,2006). These basins were partially inlled with temperate-water car-bonate deposits ranging in age from the Middle Miocene (Serravallian)to the Early Pliocene (Zanclean) (Fig. 1).

    Temperate-water carbonates formed in a wide spectrum of ramps,fromgentle homoclinal to distally steepened,with diverse physiograph-ic and hydrodynamic situations. These carbonates accumulated on a va-riety of sub-environments extending from the coast to the basin. Someof these deposits have been described in detail and extensively studiedin recent years (see Braga et al., 2006a for a comprehensive review).Compositionally, theymainly consist of bioclasts of bryozoans, corallinealgae, bivalves (mostly pectinids and oysters), and, to a lesser extent(but locally abundant), barnacles, brachiopods, benthic foraminifera,echinoids, and solitary corals. Therefore, these accumulations are com-posed of the typical foramol (sensu Lees and Buller, 1972) or heterozoan(sensu James, 1997) associations, characteristic of the temperate- andcool-water carbonate-platform realm. In the Mediterranean-linkedBetic basins, temperate-water carbonate deposits alternate in timewith tropical (warmer-water) coral-reef deposits. In the Late Mioceneexamples, these alternations have been interpreted as climatically con-trolled, related to cyclic global cooling andwarming events (Martn andBraga, 1994; Brachert et al., 1996; Snchez-Almazo et al., 2001; Martnet al., 2010). Since the Early Pliocene only temperate-water carbonatesformed in the Mediterranean. Coral reefs disappeared from the regionat the end of the Messinian (Martn et al., 2010; Perrin and Bosellini,2012). These Pliocene temperate-water carbonates are thought to bethe result of temperature variations related to the opening of a morenorthern gateway (the Strait of Gibraltar) that admitted cooler surfacewater into the Mediterranean (Martn et al., 2010). Oxygen isotopevalues of foraminifers collected from laterally-equivalent basinal marldeposits conrm that sea-surface water-temperature variations con-trolled the type of carbonate that formed at any specic time in thesebasins (Snchez-Almazo et al., 2001, 2007; Martn et al., 2010).

    In the sedimentary model proposed for Neogene temperate-watercarbonates from the Betic basins (Fig. 2), the most signicant feature isthe existence of a carbonate-factory zone (sensu Martn et al., 1996),where maximum carbonate (skeletal) production took place. On openramps, this factory zone was a relatively calm area affected only bystorms, situated seawards of shoals, below the fair-weather wave base,and was affected only by storms (Martn et al., 1996, 2004; Braga et al.,2006a). Other factories are related to sheltered settings in shallowwaterssuch as embayments (Martn et al., 2004), or small coastal depressionsbounded by submarine cliffs (Betzler et al., 2000; Aguirre et al., 2008).These latter carbonate factories are relevant for palaeonvironmentalreconstructions although they were not volumetrically important.Sediment in the factories consists of poorly bedded, coarse-grainedoatstones to rudstones, with well-preserved bioclasts that exhibitlow fragmentation and abrasion. Most of the bioclasts are from organ-isms that grew in situ with relatively slow growth-rates compared totropical counterparts. Although mixed in different proportions, fossilgroups within factory zones tend to be spatially partitioned, commonlywith bivalves (and bryozoans) in shallow-water settings, and corallinealgae in deeper-water locations (Martn et al., 2004; Puga-Bernabuet al., 2007a, 2007b). Seagrass meadows were presumably common infactory areas in some carbonate ramps (Betzler et al., 2000; Bragaet al., 2003).

    Outer-ramp and slope settings are located seawards of thefactory zone in homoclinal and in distally steepened carbonate rampsrespectively. Minor production, linked to the growth of small, delicate-branching forms of bryozoans and coralline algae, took place in outer-ramp and slope settings, resulting in the formation of ne-grainedbackground packstone deposits (Martn et al., 2004). These packstones

    pass laterally into silty marls, and marls deposited in basinal settings

  • 13. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127AlicanteNorth Betic


    1 North Betic Strait: Serravallian(Braga et al., 2006a). Small buildups of various shapes anddiffering com-position developed locally on the deepest part of the ramp(N50mdeep)and/or on the basin oor (Martn et al., 2004; Aguirre et al., 2012).

    Sediment particles from the carbonate factories were loose on thesea oor and, as such, they were prone to be easily remobilized.


    r Straits


    Atlantic Ocean

    Mlaga Almer


    alquivir B




    Iberian MassifBetic CordilleraRifian Cordillera Neogene vol




    50 km

    Atlantic Ocean Mediterranean Sea




    Sierra de los FilabresUleila


    carbonate rampsdeltas



    4 5Sorbas Basin Vera Basin: latemost Tortonian-earliest Me


    Los Ga

    Sorbas Basin

    Vera Bachannel

    Fig. 1.Geographical and geological setting of theNeogeneBetic basins showing thedistribution oof the study basins and corresponding palaeogeography at the time of the development of thePuga-Bernabu et al., 2010). Insets mark the position of the areas studied in detail.Dehesas de Guadix StraitGuadix Basin: Late Tortonian2Sediment mobilization was partly landwards, to coastal areas (shoalsand beaches), and partly seawards, to more openmarine environments(Martn et al., 1996). A variety of processes and transport mechanismsacted on the carbonate factory zones and remobilized sediment towardsthe outermost-ramp, slope and basin settings. Sediment particles were






    0 50 100



    canicsn-linked Neogene basinsd Neogene basins





    Atlantic inflowcurrents


    La Peza

    GuadixAlmanzora Corridor

    10 km

    5 km








    Mesa de Roldn

    carbonate ramp

    1 km

    6 Carboneras Basin: Early Pliocene


    2 km

    Agua Amarga



    Las Negras


    Agua Amarga Basin: latemost Tortonian-earliest Messinian



    fMediterranean-linked andAtlantic-linkedbasins (centre). Numbers indicate the locationtemperate-water carbonate ramps (modied from Martn et al., 1999, 2003, 2004, 2009;

  • shoals carbonatefactory zonecoastal beltsea level


    Remobilized deposits linked to unconfined flows

    Remobilized deposits linked to confined flows

    storm shell-beds

    50 cm




    50 cm50 cm

    10 m



    deformed sandwaves collapsed


    downslope migratingsandwaves

    2 m


    50 cm

    bivalves coralline algaeundifferentiated rhodoliths

    branchingin situremobilized

    bryozoansdeep-water buildupsVariedbioclasts

    hummocky and swaleycross-stratification


    parallel laminationtabular and sigmoidal cross-stratificationnormal grading

    50 cm

    Deposits withhummocky and

    swaley cross-stratification

    14 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127

  • either removed by mass ows (sediment gravity ows) or displaced byunidirectional currents. In some particular instances sediment particleswere also affected and mobilized by oscillatory ows.

    developed at the southern margin by the action of longshore currents. Atthe northern margin, beaches, shoals, and bryozoans/bivalve/corallinealgal-rich factories extended on a distally steepened ramp affected


    15. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 11273. Dataset and geological context

    The information compiled in this review comes essentially from anumber of examples of temperate-water carbonate deposits describedover the last two decades from the Neogene Betic basins in southernSpain (Fig. 1; Table 1). The illustrated examples include severalMediterranean-linked basins (Fig. 1), such as the Agua Amarga Basin(Martn et al., 1996), the Carboneras Basin (Martn et al., 2004), theSorbas Basin (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2007a), and the Vera Basin (Bragaet al., 2001) and Atlantic- and Mediterranean-linked basins such asthe Guadix Basin (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2010) and theNorth Betic Strait(Braga et al., 2010). In latter case, we consider a predominant Atlanticinuence on sedimentation due to proximity of the outcrops to the At-lantic side.

    A brief introduction to the regional framework of these sedimentarybasins, including the reviewed temperate-water carbonate ramps isgiven in the following sections.

    3.1. Agua Amarga Basin

    The Agua Amarga Basin is a small EWelongated depression withinthe Neogene volcanic province of Cabo de Gata in southern Spain(Fig. 1). Two temperate-water carbonate units were deposited in thisbasin (Fig. 3; Martn et al., 1996; Betzler et al., 1997). The lower unitlies on top of lower Tortonian (9.6 Ma; Bellon et al., 1983) volcanicrocks. The upper unit, late Tortonian-early Messinian in age, uncon-formably occurs on top the lower unit and volcanic rocks around8.6 Ma old (Di Battistini et al., 1987; Fernndez-Soler, 1992). Messinianreefs and locally brecciated, oolitic and stromatolicwarm-water carbon-ates unconformably overlie the younger temperate-water carbonateunit. The last Neogene unit is represented by Pliocene beach deposits(Fig. 3).

    The temperate-water carbonates of the upper unit in the AguaAmarga basin have been tentatively assigned to the lowstand systemtract of a fourth-order sequence and in turn comprise higher frequencycycles (Martn et al., 1996). The depositional model for high-frequency(fth-order) highstands (Martn et al., 1996) consists, in a proximal todistal transect, of prograding beaches, shoals, bryozoan- and bivalve-rich factory facies and a mid- to outer-ramp with remobilized deposits,which are reviewed here (Section 5.1.1).

    3.2. Carboneras Basin

    Temperate-water carbonate deposits are widely represented in theCarboneras Basin, a small marginal Mediterranean basin in the Cabode Gata Neogene volcanic province, southern Spain (Fig. 1). These car-bonates, Pliocene in age, lie uncorformably over Messinian, warm-water coral-reef carbonates, brecciated limestones and marls depositedon top of a volcanic basement (Aguirre, 1998; Fig. 3).

    In the Carboneras Basin, the temperate-water carbonate units con-stitute a third-order depositional sequence. The lowstand systemstract is formed by shoals and rocky shore deposits. The transgressivesystems tract is the best developed and include limestones depositedon carbonate ramps with distinct sedimentary styles according to theramp prole and local hydrodynamics (Braga et al., 2003; Martnet al., 2004). Depositional environments include oyster banks, rhodolithpavements and coralline algalbryozoanbivalve bioconstructions inthemore protected areas of the basin to thewest. A spit platform system

    Fig. 2. Idealized sedimentary facies model of temperate-water carbonate deposition in the Nposited close to and below the stormwave base within the outer-ramp, slope, and basin en

    2007a, 2010; Braga et al., 2010). Representative stratigraphic columns are given for each examby southeasterly wind-driven storms that generated the offshoreremobilised deposits reviewed here (Section 5.1.2). The highstandsystems tract is represented by well-developed coastal and factoryfacies formed on a gentle ramp (Braga et al., 2003).

    3.3. Sorbas Basin

    The Sorbas Basin is a small E-W elongated intermontane basin insoutheastern Spain (Fig. 1). Basin inlling extends from the mid-Miocene (?) to the Quaternary (Fig. 3), and comprises several strati-graphic units separated by unconformities (Martn and Braga, 1994).Lower Tortonian to Messinian units are marine and include alternatingwarm- and temperate-water carbonate units (Fig. 3), and thick selenitegypsum deposits formed over a major, basin-scale, subaerial erosivesurface (Martn and Braga, 1994; Riding et al., 1998; Braga et al.,2006b). Continental sediments deposited on uvial, lacustrine and allu-vial systems and a thin marine unit comprise the top of the succession(Fig. 3).

    The temperate-water carbonate unit with offshore remobilized sed-iments is the so-called AzagadorMember of Ruegg (1964). This unitwasdeposited on shallow-water carbonate ramps at the northern andsouthern margins of the basin during the latest Tortonian to earliestMessinian. The depositional models for both margins are characterizedby middle-ramp bivalvebryozoanbrachiopod factories that changeto deeper-water coralline algal-dominated factories. The AzagadorMember represents the lowstand systems tract of a third-order cycle(Martn and Braga, 1994) and the remobilised sediments correspondto the highstand systems tract of fth-order cycle, which is in turn com-posed of higher order cycles (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2007a).

    3.4. Vera Basin

    This basin is connected to the south with the Sorbas Basin (Fig. 1)and comprises a similar Neogene sedimentary inlling (Fig. 3).Messinian reefs, well-represented in the Sorbas Basin, only cropout at the northwestern margin. In the Vera Basin, the AzagadorMember includes offshore remobilized sediments deposited on ashallow-water carbonate ramp to deep-water channel-lobe systemduring a fth-order sequence.

    3.5. Guadix Basin

    The Guadix Basin is a small intermontane basin in the central sectorof the Betic Cordillera in Southern Spain (Fig. 1). The upper Miocene toQuaternary stratigraphic record of the Guadix Basin comprises severalmarine and continental units deposited over a substrate formed byLower toMiddle Miocene rocks and the Betic basement (Fig. 3). Marinedeposits consist of a Tortonian temperate-water carbonate unit and anuppermost Tortonian warm-water carbonate unit (Betzler et al.,2006). The overlying continental sediments range from the Turolian(Messinian) to the Pleistocene (Garca-Aguilar and Martn, 2000).

    The temperate-water carbonate unit formed during a completethird-order sea-level cycle and comprises three sub-units assigned tolowstand, transgressive and highstand systems tracts (Puga-Bernabuet al., 2010), respectively. Here, we review the sediments of thehighstand, which in turn comprises 26 high-frequency (probablyprecession-forced) cycles. In this case, sediments were intenselyremobilised offshore fromanarrow shallow-water carbonate rampdur-ing short-term falling and low sea levels.

    ene Betic basins. Zoomed inset illustrates the different types of remobilized sediments de-nments (adapted fromMartn et al., 1996, 2004; Braga et al., 2006a; Puga-Bernabu et al.,


  • Table1




















































































































































































































































    16 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 11273.6. North Betic Strait

    The sedimentary deposits of theNorth-Betic Strait belong to thema-rineMiocene record of thewestern Prebetic, the proximal domain of theExternal Zones of the Betic Cordillera. TheMiocene record can be divid-ed into three stratigraphic units separated by unconformities extendingfrom the Langhian to the lower Tortonian (Fig. 3; Martn et al., 2009;Braga et al., 2010) and it includes carbonate and mixed siliciclastic-carbonate rocks. We focus on the offshore remobilised deposits presentin the intermediate unit, middle to late Serravalian in age.

    The sedimentary model of the intermediate unit consists of ahomoclinal ramp developed at the southern margin of a relatively wideseaway (Braga et al., 2010). This model shows a coastal facies belt withbeach and lagoon deposits that changed seawards to carbonate andmixed siliciclastic-carbonate sediments accumulated in submarinedunes moved by longshore currents. The carbonate factory, locally dilut-ed by the inux of terrigenous sediments, passed seawards into a faciesbelt with abundant reworked bioclasts (Section 5.1.3) and ne-grainedcalcarenites in the deepest part of the ramp. The deposition of the inter-mediate unit shows a transgressiveregressive pattern including tenhigher-order cycles (Braga et al., 2010). The offshore remobilized sedi-ments formed during the transgressive part of the higher-frequencycycles.

    4. Classication of the offshore remobilised deposits

    Facies types of redeposited carbonates on outer-ramp, slope, andbasin settings can be distinguished by different stratal geometries,grain size, and sedimentary structures without signicant variation inthe nature of biogenic carbonate components (Fig. 2; Table 1). The dif-ferent redeposited facies resulted from the interaction of various off-shore sediment-transport processes and the local conditions (mainlyhydrodynamics and palaeotopography) found in the carbonate ramps.Firstly, we classify the redeposited facies according to whether thesediment-transport processes acted in a conned area of the carbonateramp, slope or basin (e.g. a channel) or whether these processesremobilized the sediment over unconned areas of the ramp. The sec-ond classication level refers to the type of ow and the redepositionprocess, which in the illustrated examples can be sediment gravityows, short-lived storm-driven unidirectional ows, persistent unidi-rectional currents, or oscillatory-dominant combined ows.

    Sediment gravity ows (SGF; i.e. ow of sediments or sedimentuid mixture in which the interstitial uid is driven by the grains mov-ing under the action of gravity; Middleton and Hampton, 1973) can beclassied according to their rheology and particle-support mechanismsduring the discrete ow conditions (e.g. Lowe, 1982; Mulder andAlexander, 2001) although changes in ow behaviour can occur duringa single transport event (see Haughton et al., 2009 for a review). In thisstudy, SGF deposits are classied on the basis of the characteristics ob-served in the deposits (Talling et al., 2012), as there is a signicantlack of information on the ow rheology and support mechanismtransporting carbonate particles (Hodson andAlexander, 2010). SGF de-posits identied in the study examples include debrites and turbidites.Debrites form by abrupt en masse deposition, with a continuum be-tween poorly cohesive (sandy) and cohesive (muddy) debrites. Turbi-dites result from the progressive particle aggradation during the ow,but these deposits show different sedimentary features depending onthe sediment concentration in the ow (i.e. high-density vs. low-density turbidites; Talling et al., 2012).

    Tempestite is the common term to describe beds deposited bystorms. However, the sediment deposition and reworking processes as-sociatedwith storms are highly variable as they are controlled bywavesand currents acting during the storm and post-storm events. Stormwaves (oscillatory ows) affect the seaoor at greater depths than dofair-weather waves, thus eroding, winnowing and/or putting into sus-

    pension sediment particles that are subsequently transported by

  • 17. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127unidirectional ows. Theseows include rip-up currents (Shepard et al.,1941) that rarely export sediment much farther from the breaking-wave line (Reimnitz et al., 1976), and current-driven ows generatedby seaward owing storm surges either during the storm (i.e. near-bottom currents; Hquette and Hill, 1993) or when the storm abates(i.e. storm-surge ebb; Goff et al., 2010). Furthermore, storms can also in-duce sediment gravity ows (Wright et al., 2002; Puig et al., 2003,2004), a process which is thought to be very common in generating an-cient tempestites (Tucker and Wright, 1990; Myrow and Southward,1996). In our classication, we have separated tempestites linked to os-cillatory and/or combined ows (Section 5.1.3) from offshore storm-driven unidirectional traction current deposits (Section 5.1.2).

    Subaqueous bedforms (ripples, megaripples, and submarine dunes)generated on coastal and platform (ramp) settings by the action ofwind-driven, wave, or tidal currents (traction currents) generally mi-grate coastwards at high a angle and/or parallel to the shoreline(Davidson-Arnott and van Heyningen, 2003; Medelln et al., 2008).However, sediment remobilization linked to the offshore migration oflarge bedforms may also occur as in the example illustrated in this re-view (see Section 5.1.4).

    5. Types of deposits

    5.1. Deposits related to unconned ows

    5.1.1. Sediment gravity ow deposits: fan-bedded depositsSediment gravity ows generated by storm currents removed sedi-

    ment from the factory zone and redeposited it downslope across thecarbonate ramp, as in the case of the uppermost Tortonian-lowermostMessinian of the Agua Amarga Basin (Martn et al., 1996). In thisbasin, SGF deposits occur on homoclinal ramps seawards of the

    Fig. 3. Simplied stratigraphy of the Neogene Betic basins reviewed in this study (based on MTemperate-water carbonate units range in age from the Middle Miocene (Serravallian) to theearly Miocene; La-eSe: Langhianearly Serravalian, Se: Serravalian, eTo: early Tortonian, To: Tocarbonate-factory zone, and include debrites and turbidites (Figs. 3, 4;Martn et al., 1996). At the outcrop scale, these deposits show a fan-bedded disposition, with individual layers increasing in thicknessbasinwards (Fig. 4A). Debrites form centimetre- to decimetre-thicklayers consisting of poorly sorted, coarse-grained oatstones, withsome large, centimetre-sized bioclasts (Fig. 4B). Debrites grade laterallyinto turbidites,which dominate in deeper ramp areas. Turbidites consistofne- tomedium-grained rudstones, grainstones, and packstoneswithwell-developed parallel lamination (Fig. 4C). The lateral relationshipsbetween these different SGF deposits suggest that these ows wereinitiated as debris ows and transformed downslope into turbidite cur-rents by increasing dilution of the ow. The sedimentary features of thedebrites and turbidites are indicative of sediment removal, reworking,and redeposition, suggesting that bioclasts were mobilized from theinner ramp and redeposited offshore by SGF generated during stormconditions. Few examples of fan-bedded SGF deposits have been de-scribed in the Mediterranean region. Knoerich and Mutti (2003) referto redeposited, massive packstone, grainstone, and rudstone beds inthe Oligocene, deep (below 50 m) outer-ramp heterozoan carbonatesfrom the Maltese Islands, which could be comparable to the SGF de-posits shown here from the Agua Amarga Basin.

    5.1.2. Storm-driven unidirectional current deposits: storm shell bedsStorm-driven currents can generate two types of storm shell de-

    posits: a) deposits of bioclasts that have been reworked and transportedseawards from the carbonate factory (hereafter shell beds), andb) shell lags, which represent residual bioclast accumulations. Shell-lag deposits are described as they are genetically linked, in the study ex-amples, to the storm beds, although they did not involve offshoreredeposition.

    artn and Braga, 1994; Martn et al., 1996, 2004; Braga et al., 2001; Betzler et al., 2006).Early Pliocene (Zanclean) and alternate with warm-water carbonates. Ol-eMi: Oligocenertonian, Me: Messinian, Pl: Pliocene.

  • 18 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127Storm shell beds occur as discrete, individual, coarse bioclastic(oatstones and rudstones) layers, intercalated within the ne-grained backgroundpackstone, in outer-ramp and upper-slope contextson homoclinal and on distally steepened carbonate ramps respectively.The selected examples in this case are from the uppermost Tortonian-lowermost Messinian of the Sorbas Basin (Puga-Bernabu et al.,2007a) and the Pliocene of the Carboneras Basin (Martn et al., 2004)(Figs. 2, 5A, B). In both cases, the shell beds are decimetre thick and lat-erally discontinuous (from a few to tens of meters wide), exhibit irreg-ular and erosive bases, and are locally amalgamated (Fig. 5C). Bioclastsin these shell beds are usually dominated by calcitic bivalves, nodularand branching bryozoans, and coralline algae (Martn et al., 2004;Puga-Bernabu et al., 2007a). They are generally fragmented anddisarticulated (in the case of bivalve shells). Rough ning-upward grad-ing of bioclasts, and concave-up shell stacking can also be observed(Fig. 5D).

    Shell-lag deposits occur in the Sorbas Basin as laterally discontin-uous, up to 40-cm-thick patches of large (10 to 20 cm) articulatedand disarticulated bivalves, mainly oysters. The large bivalves aregenerally low fragmented, show a high variance in orientation, andare encrusted by coralline algae and bored by sponge borings in thecase of the largest shells (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2007a). The rudstonematrix of the shell lags includes pectinid, coralline algal, and echinoidfragments. These deposits are interpreted as lags of original bivalvebiostromes. Storm currents removed the smaller and lighter compo-nents of the biostromes and transported them seawards forming shellbeds and leaving the largest and heaviest shells in the lags (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2007a).

    Examples of storm shell beds similar to those in southern Spain havebeen described in theMediterranean region byNalin et al. (2010) in the

    Fig. 4. A) Outcrop view of the distal part of the homoclinal temperate-water carbonate ramp i(SGF) exhibit a fan-array disposition. Debrites and turbidites refer to intervals showing these tyC) Bioclastic turbidite exhibiting well-developed parallel lamination.Val d'Orcia Basin (northern Apennines), a small basin comparable insize to the Carboneras Basin. These authors describe a carbonate rampwith a low-energy coralline-algal factory facies sporadically interruptedbymoderate- to high-energy events that deposited reworked shell con-centrations within the algal factory facies. A wide variety of shell con-centrations have been found in a Plio-Pleistocene foreland, temperate-water carbonate ramp from the Salento peninsula (southern Italy;D'Alessandro et al., 2004). Only in a few cases, do these accumulationsrepresent thin shell beds emplaced within a bioclastic packstonematrixby the action of storm-driven ows. In most cases, these shell accumula-tions are interpreted as the result of multiple phases of storm-wavereworking, including the formation of shell lags by the winnowing ofthe ne-grained matrix under the storm action (D'Alessandro et al.,2004). Rudstone beds grading upward to ne-grained facies depositedin low-energy open marine settings in the Sommires Basin during theLate Burdigalian are also interpreted as storm-lag deposits (Reynaudand James, 2012). However, these deposits differ from the examples ofthe Sorbas Basin in the shape, internal structure of the deposits, andtype of the bioclastic remains. These bryozoan-rich rudstones occur asamalgamated lenses of massive beds or low-angle cross-beds, with locallags of rhodoliths and pectinid shells as well as mudstone pebbles at thebase of the deposits. Shell concentrations representing storm-lags andtempestites have also been described in the early Pliocene temperate-water carbonate ramp deposits of the small Almayate Basin (Mlaga,South Spain; Aguirre, 2000; Aguirre and Mndez-Chazarra, 2010).Tempestites are represented by the accumulation of pectinids reworkedto the outer ramp, and form decimetre-thick discrete or amalgamatedshell beds intercalated in ne-grained packstones. In the storm beds,shells of pectinids display a characteristic concave-up staking pattern(Aguirre and Mndez-Chazarra, 2010).

    n the Agua Amarga Basin. Carbonate deposits comprising sediment gravity ow depositspes of SGF. B) Close-up view of a poorly sorted bioclastic debrite. Ring is 2 cm in diameter.

  • Basite-wasinr (S

    19. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 11275.1.3. Oscillatory-dominant combined ow deposits: deposits withhummocky and swaley cross-stratication

    The distal parts of some temperate-water carbonate homoclinalramps were characterized by the presence of deposits displaying hum-mocky and swaley cross-stratication (HCS and SCS respectively;Figs. 2, 6). In the selected example from the Serravallian of theAtlantic-linked North Betic Strait (Braga et al., 2010), this facies de-veloped seawards from an extensive, packstone (ne-grainedoatstone) and grainstone shoal zone and a poorly preserved, coarse-grained carbonate-factory area. Deposits with HCSSCS comprise ne-grained grainstones and rudstones arranged in decimetre-scale beds,and bed packages more than 20 m thick. Individual hummocks andswaleys are 1 to 2 m wide and up to 50 cm in height (Fig. 6B). A crude

    Fig. 5.A)Panoramic viewof the homoclinal temperate-water, carbonate ramp in the Sorbaser than the original due to tectonic tilting. B)Outcrop view of the distally steepened temperaare progressively steeper upwards. C) Close-up view of a thin storm shell bed (Carboneras Bdiameter. D) Detail of concave-up stacked pectinid shells (mainly Chlamys) in a storm layeinternal lamination appears locally in ne-grained beds (Fig. 6C).Swaley structures predominate over the hummocks (Braga et al., 2010).

    HCS and SCS are commonly interpreted to be formed by the action ofstorm currents combined with oscillatory ows on shoreface to inner-shelf settings above the storm-weather wave base (Amos et al., 1996;Midtgaard, 1996; Dalrymple and Hoogendoorn, 1997). Oscillatory-dominant combined ows remove sediment from these proximal set-tings and shore-oblique ows transport it offshore into deeper waters.The unidirectional component of these ows is very slow (a few cm/s)but enough to cause sediment bedforms to migrate offshore (Dumasand Arnott, 2006). According to Dumas and Arnott (2006), SCS andHCS could be genetically related, forming the former in more proximalsettings with respect to the hummocks. Metre-scale bed packageswith HSC and SCS are scarce in other temperate-water carbonateramps from the Mediterranean region. Comparable deposits in termsof the size of the individual structures and relative depth of deposition(about 30 m) locally occur in Plio-Pleistocene sediments from NE Sicily(Central Mediterranean; Di Stefano et al., 2007). Beds displaying HCSare also described in scoured, prograding carbonate wedges (LowerPleistocene in north-eastern Rhodes; Hansen, 1999) and interpretedto be formed by the waning currents linked to major storm events.However, in either of these two examples, deposits with HCS are notas abundant and well-developed as those from the North Betic Strait,where the extensive development of the hummocks and swaleys iscomparable to some ancient storm-dominated siliciclastic shelves(e.g. Miocene of Cape Blanco, Oregon; Dott and Bourgeois, 1982). Thehigher abundance of the deposits with HSC and SCS in the North-BeticStrait compared with other Mediterranean-linked basins probably re-ects the inuence of higher-energy hydrodynamic conditions inAtlantic-linked basins.

    5.1.4. Persistent unidirectional traction current deposits: slope sandwavesSlope sandwaves are conspicuous features within well-developed

    platform-margin, prograding clinoforms in a distally steepened carbonateramp from the Upper Tortonian of the Guadix Basin (Fig. 2; Puga-Bernabu et al., 2010). Individual clinoforms exhibit a sigmoidal geome-try, with a planar top and a low-dipping base. They range in thicknessfrom 2 to 21 m (commonly 7 to 12 m). These clinoforms consist ofmixed carbonate-siliciclastic bedset packages, interngering basinwardswith marls (Fig. 7A). Carbonates (grainstones to rudstones) are bioclastic

    n (uppermost TortonianlowermostMessinian). The present gradient of the ramp is steep-ater, carbonate ramp in theCarboneras Basin (Lower Pliocene). Note that slope clinoforms) exhibiting an irregular base excavated into the background sediment. Lens cap is 6 cm inorbas Basin). Coin is 2.3 cm in composition (dominated by bivalves and bryozoans) and range insize from ne-grained sands to pebbles. Siliciclastics may represent upto 40% of the sediment bulk.

    Well-developed cross-bedding inside the clinoforms is up to 4 mhigh and 25 m in length and cross-cut each other (Fig. 7B). Cross-stratied beds are also locally deformed, folded downslope (overturnedcross-stratication) or totally collapsed (Fig. 7C). Other sedimentarystructures in the bedset packages include planar lamination, sigmoidalcross-bedding, trough cross-bedding, and small ripples.

    Slope sandwaves were part of a sandwave eld that migrated off-shore by the action of persistent unidirectional currents in a Mediterra-nean semi-enclosed basin (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2010), the UpperTortonian Guadix basin, connected to the Atlantic through a northernseaway (Betzler et al., 2006). The particular palaeogeographic condi-tions and shape of the basin allowed the entrance of Atlantic surfacecurrents that owed rst parallel to the coast and then shifted down-slope, remobilizing the bottom-ramp sediment and forming sandwaves.These sedimentary bedformsmoved across the ramp to the ramp slope,where they locally destabilized and collapsed due to the increasedforeset angle and/or liquefaction processes (Fig. 2). The basinward mi-gration of the sandwaveeldwas thus controlled by surfacemarine cur-rents with an offshore unidirectional ow component.

    Smaller dunes (up to 1 m high) and ripples migrating basinwardshave been reported by Di Stefano et al. (2007) in a small Plio-Pleistocene ramp from NE Sicily, Italy. According to these authors, thestructures were generated by returning unidirectional ows resultingfrom the impact of wind-driven currents against a steep submarine

  • Fig. 6. A) Field view of a bedset package exhibiting hummocky and swaley cross-stratication (HCSSCS) in the Serravalian unit of the North Betic Strait (El Lanchar section, Braga et al.,2010). This facies is intercalated and passes basinwards into ne-grained calcarenites and calcisiltites. B) Close-up view of deposits dominated by swaley cross-stratication. C) Crude in-ternal lamination in a hummockite bed. Coin is 2.1 cm in diameter.

    Fig. 7.A) Panoramic view of prograding carbonate clinoforms in a distally steepened temperate-water carbonate ramp from theGuadix Basin (upper Tortonian).Marl beds are pinched outbetween the carbonate dominated bedsets. Inset marks the location of B). B) View of basinward-oriented cross-bedded structures inside the prograding clinoforms. C) Slightly overturnedcross-bedded structures inside the clinoforms resulting from the progressive deformation of the downslope-migrating sandwaves.

    20 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127

  • 21. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127cliff. Other downslope-migrating bedforms have recently been de-scribed in a carbonate ramp from the Majella Mountains, in the centralApennines of Italy (Brandano et al., 2012). In this case, the downslopemigration of a small sandwave eld below the storm-wave base is at-tributed to downwelling bottom currents generated during strongwinds or storms. Cross-stratied bedset packages of scales similar tothose of the clinoforms in the Guadix Basin have been identied inother Mediterranean regions, such as Sicily (southern Italy), andGreece (Hansen, 1999; Pomar and Tropeano, 2001; Massari andChiocci, 2006). These large-scale sedimentary bodies resulted from thebasinward progradation of carbonatewedges built by sediment dispers-al from the shoreface by stormwaves andwind-driven currents, locallyevolving downslope into gravity ows (Massari and Chiocci, 2006). Al-though the internal structure of these clinoforms and sediment-dispersal mechanism differ from the downslope-migrating sandwavesin the Guadix Basin, all these examples are comparable in terms ofresulting platform-margin clinoform progradation.

    5.2. Deposits related to conned ows

    5.2.1. Sediment gravity ow deposits: channel deposits and related lobedeposits

    Deep-water submarine channel-fan systems comprise a variety ofdepositional elements such as levee channels, crevasse splays, sedimentwaves, and lobes or frontal splays (Posamentier and Walker, 2006).Within the Mediterranean, temperate-water carbonate realm, channeland lobe deposits are the best characterized (e.g. Braga et al., 2001;Vigorito et al., 2005; Bassi et al., 2010). These depositional elements rep-resent mostly the basinward continuation of submarine canyons exca-vated into the carbonate ramps (Braga et al., 2001; Puga-Bernabuet al., 2008a), or could locally develop in shallow-water ramp settings(Puga-Bernabu et al., 2008b).

    Most of the sedimentwithin the channels and lobes originated in thecarbonate ramp, although there may have been some local siliciclasticcontribution directly from the emerged land as well. Littoral sediments,mobilized by longshore and storm currents, poured into submarine can-yons, generating sediment gravity ows (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2008a).These ows were then funnelled along the canyon and displacedbasinwards, redistributing the sediment downslope through the chan-nel system until it reached its nal resting place on the lobes.

    Here, only deposits in channels and lobes developed in outermost-ramp, slope, and basin settings are considered. Lobe deposits are notdirectly formed under conned ow conditions but due to owunconnement. However, as their sedimentary features are geneticallylinked to the conned ows travelling along the channels, they havebeen included this section.

    The selected example is from the uppermost Tortonian-lowermostMessinian of the Vera Basin (Braga et al., 2001). Channels are largestructures excavated into the background sediment of the carbonateslope and basin (Figs. 2, 8). Channelized bodies, generally tens ofmetresto a few hundreds of metres wide, are up to 20 m thick (Fig. 8A), and insome cases show several phases of inlling (Braga et al., 2001).Channel-ll sediments are debrites and turbidites, comprising fromgranule- and pebble-size oatstones and rudstones to medium-grained packstones and grainstones. Cobble-size clasts are chaoticallydistributed locally at the base of individual ows (Fig. 8C). Siliciclasticcontent in these beds can be locally signicant (up to 30%). Thechannel-ll normally consists of decimetre-thick beds eitherconforming or downlapping to the underlying surface (Fig. 8A). Low-angle cross-stratication, and small cut-and-ll structures also occur.Individual beds are generally structureless, with some normal gradingand parallel lamination. Small rip-up clasts are sometimes foundat the base of some beds. Channels locally include levee depositsconsisting of closely spaced and/or amalgamated packstones andrudstone turbiditic beds extending basinwards from the channel mar-

    gins (Fig. 8B). These beds are decimetre thick and laterally continuousover some tens of metres. Individual beds are normally graded, withparallel-laminated tops.

    Lobe deposits form carbonate bodies up to a few tens ofmetres thick,extending laterally for several hundred metres, intercalated betweenchannelized deposits and/or ne-grained (silt tomud) background sed-iment (Braga et al., 2001). These deposits show a tabular sheet-like tolensoidal geometry (Fig. 8B). Individual beds within the lobe bodiesare decimetre thick (up to 70 cm), plano-convex lens-shaped, and canbe traced laterally for several tens of metres before thinning out anddisappearing. Lobe beds are normally composed of medium sand- togranule-sized packstones/grainstones/oatstones/rudstones, althoughsome larger pebble-size bioclasts and siliciclastic clasts also occur.These beds internally exhibit the typical features of turbidites that in-clude parallel lamination and normal grading (Fig. 8D).

    Channels acted as conduits for sediment removed from the innerramp to travel through the outermost ramp, slope, and basin. Channelsin the outermost ramp acted mainly as by-pass areas that were subse-quently lled with sediment from the carbonate ramp after channelabandonment. The presence of several erosion and inlling phases indi-cate that the channels were periodically reactivated (Braga et al., 2001).Sedimentary features of the channel-ll beds suggest that theywere de-posited by poorly cohesive debris ow and high-density turbidity cur-rents. Lateral accretion structures in the channels that developed inthe slope and basin suggest a meandering morphology (Abreu et al.,2003; Lien et al., 2003). These structures, formed under sustained andrelatively stationary ow conditions, are also indicative of active sedi-ment transport and deposition in lateral bars along the channels. Flowspreading at the transition point at channel mouths resulted in the de-position of sediment lobes over the ne-grained basin sediments.

    In the southern Apennines, Bassi et al. (2010) have described sub-marine channelized bodies cut into the margin of a Lower-Middle Mio-cene temperate-water carbonate shelf of similar scale to the examplesillustrated here. These carbonate bodies differ from the channel-lobesystem from the Vera Basin in the origin of the channels, the type ofchannel deposits, and the channel activity. In the southern Apennines,the channel system developed over a remnant Cretaceous incised valleythat favoured the conned offshore sediment transport from the ramp.Parautochthonous bioclastic deposits in the channel, subsequently cov-ered with allochthonous bioclastic sediments from a nearby carbonatefactory (Pietraroia Channel, Bassi et al., 2010), indicate that this channelwas mainly a depositional area rather than a by-pass feature. By con-trast, the outer-ramp channels in the Vera Basin acted mainly as con-duits for sediment transport to the slope and basin, until theirabandonment and later inlling by bioclastic packstone from the sur-rounding ramp. A channel-lobe system more similar to the example insouthern Spain occurs in Upper AquitanianLower Burdigalian succes-sions described in Sardinia by Vigorito et al. (2005). These authorsrefer to The Isili Channel, a large system consisting of multi-storeychannel units that include lateral- and middle-channel bars depositedby a variety of SGF that transported sediment from a shallow-waterforamol-rhodalgal carbonate ramp. This channel system passesbasinwards into a fan system characterized by sheet-like and planar-convex deposits.

    6. Controlling factors and integrated model

    The study examples found in the Neogene Betic basins provideessential information to understand the depositional and erosive pro-cesses that sculpt carbonate platformmargins, and can help in the inter-pretation of similar deposits in other temperate-water carbonate rampswithin low-energy domains. Background facies in outer-ramp and ba-sinal environments commonly remain relatively unaltered as they arenot profoundly affected by sea-level oscillations. Storms and current-related ows can, however, disturb the normal sedimentation in rela-tively deep-water settings. In the case of the temperate-water carbonate

    deposits illustrated here, their facies, geometry, and distribution

  • 22 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127resulted essentially from the interaction between local hydrodynamicsaffecting the carbonate factories and seaoor topography (Fig. 9). Addi-tionally, we document the inuence of sea level, tectonics and climateon the offshore redeposited examples reviewed.

    6.1. Hydrodynamics

    From the factory areas, skeletal grains were mobilized downslopeacross the carbonate ramps by different offshore sediment-transportmechanisms. SGF are especially effective in transporting sedimentbasinwards through submarine canyons and channels (Shepard andMarshall, 1973; Puig et al., 2003;Migeon et al., 2010),nally accumulat-ing in submarine lobes (e.g.Vera Basin; Fig. 2). These channelized, short-lived, and erratic ows might have progressively lled up the channelsand/or built and shaped different bedforms that migrated along the

    Fig. 8. A) Field view of a large channel cut into carbonate ramp sediments in the Vera Basin (upposits cut by a channel. This channel shows levee deposits at onemargin. C) Close-up viewof codiameter. D) Close-up view of an individual lobe bed with well-developed parallel lamination.channels (Wynn et al., 2007). Flow deceleration and unconnement atthe channel-lobe transition produced sheet-like lobe deposits over thebasin sediments.

    Where submarine canyons and channels did not develop, differenttypes of storm-drivenowsmoved downslope as unconnedows. Un-conned ows acted as sheet ows that swept sediment offshore fromthe carbonate factories over extensive ramp areas. Skeletal particlesremobilized by the hydraulic action of the stormbackowswere depos-ited as single storm shell beds. These relatively coarse-grained sedi-ments were deposited at short distances from the factory areas, whichin some cases remained as shell lags (e.g. Sorbas Basin). This type of re-mobilization probably took place only sporadically, as storm shell bedsoccur intercalated within offshore background sediments. Storm alsofavoured the formation of SGF in more persistent conditions acrossmoderately steep ramps, transporting sediment seawards, which was

    permost Tortonian-lowermost Messinian). B) Outcrop view of tabular, sheet-like lobe de-arse-grained clasts in a bioclasticmatrix at the base of a channel-ll bed. Lens cap is 6 cm in

  • 23. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127 hydrodynamic energy


    SGF (AB)


    storm shell beds (CB)

    storm shell beds (SB)

    Mediterranean regime Atlantic regime


    grain size

    hydrodynamic energy



    grain size



    channels (VB)

    lobes (VB)

    downslope migrating sandwaves (GB)

    deposits with HCS-SCS (NB)nally deposited as debrites and turbidites (e.g. Agua Amarga Basin;Fig. 2). In other cases, storm currents combined with oscillatory owsresulted in the formation of deposits with HCSSCS (Fig. 2). The typeof storm-related deposit generated in the Neogene temperate-watercarbonate ramps from the Betic Cordillera is highly dependent on theregional hydrodynamic regime. Bed packages with HCSSCS developedonly in Atlantic-dominated basins (e.g.North Betic Strait)where higher-energy, storm-wave conditions compared with Mediterranean-linkedbasins (e.g. Sorbas, Carboneras, and Agua Amarga basins) favouredtheir formation in relatively deep-water settings (Fig. 9).

    The pattern of current circulation within a basin may also play animportant role in the offshore redeposition processes. In contrast tostorm-driven ows, steady and more persistent currents can inducelarge scale, bedform formation and migration. In the Guadix Basin,offshore-directed currents moved downslope-migrating sandwavesthat built prograding-margin clinoforms (Fig. 7).

    6.2. Seaoor topography and basin conguration

    Seaoor topography conditioned the development of different rampproles within the illustrated examples. The ramp geometry and basinconguration can play an important role in the offshore redepositionby affecting the hydrodynamic processes. For example, the formationof relatively deep-water deposits with HCS and SCS is related to high-energy storm currents. However, a moderately steep ramp prolecould have helped to accelerate storm-surge ebb currents that affectedthe deeper parts of the ramp (Braga et al., 2010). In some cases, theramp geometry did not inuence the accumulation the offshore

    Fig. 9. Integratedmodel of temperate-water, carbonate redeposition in outer-ramp, slope,and basin environments close to and below the storm wave base. Unconned and con-ned ows generate different types of deposits depending on the hydrodynamic energyand rampgradient. Note the inverse relationship betweengrain size and thehydrodynam-ic energy regime of the ramp setting in the case of deposits linked to unconned ows(shell beds, sediment gravity ows, and deposits with HCSSCS). In contrast, there is a rel-ative correspondence between grain size and hydrodynamic energy in deposits linked toconned ows (channel and lobe deposits). AB: Agua Amarga Basin; CB: CarbonerasBasin; GB: Guadix Basin; NB: North-Betic Strait Basin; SB: Sorbas Basin; VB: Vera Basin;HCS: hummocky cross-stratication; SCS: swaley cross-stratication.remobilized deposits. Storm shell beds formed in relatively protectedbasins such as the Mediterranean-linked Sorbas and Carboneras basins,independently of the ramp geometry (Fig. 9). Within the low-energyMediterranean-linked realm, an open sea-facing conguration (Fig. 1)exposed to predominant winds favoured the abundant deposition ofstorm deposits in the Agua Amarga Basin. In this basin, a moderatelysteep ramp prole could also have favoured the downslope movementof sediment gravity ows, which were nally deposited on thedistalmost parts of the ramp.

    As indicated above, the basin conguration also controlled thecurrent-circulation pattern within the basin, which together with theramp prole, can govern the type of offshore transport mechanisms,as in the Guadix Basin. In this basin, the presence of a narrow carbonateramp favoured the offshore sediment transport by persistent unidirec-tional currents (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2010). In the deeper-watersettings, the seaoor topography controls the morphology of the sub-marine channels. Meandering channels such as those interpreted forthe Vera Basin are commonly related to very low basin-oor gradients(Wynn et al., 2007).

    6.3. Sediment characteristics

    Due to their general lack of early cementation, shallow marinetemperate-water skeletal sediments are readily prone to reworkingand redeposition (Nelson et al., 1982, 1988). Remobilized temperate-carbonate particles on the seaoor behave similarly to siliciclastic parti-cles. As a result, deposits with similar sedimentary features are generat-ed either by persistent unidirectional traction currents, storm-drivencurrents, or by subaqueous SGF in awide variety of depositional settings(e.g. Braga et al., 2006a). Although the intrinsic hydrodynamics of theseprocesses and seaoor topography are the main controls on the sedi-ment redeposition, sediment characteristics can also inuence theresulting deposits. Widespread availability of coarse-grained particlesmixed with ne-grained sediment in the Agua Amarga Basin carbonatefactories probably conditioned the formation of relatively concentratedows (debris ows) that evolved downslope to less concentrated tur-bidity ows (Martn et al., 1996). The presence on the seaoor of abun-dant sediment with an appropriate sandy grain size, derived in thiscase mostly from the shoal zone, has been interpreted as a key factorin the development of deposits with HCSSCS in carbonate ramps atthe southern margin of the North Betic Strait (Braga et al., 2010). Inthe case of the storm shell beds, only skeletal remainswith an appropri-ate size (relatively small shells) were swept from the factories, depend-ing on the hydraulic energy of the storm currents, leaving coarse-grained shell lags.

    In the case of the redeposited sediments linked to unconned ows(shell beds, sediment gravity ows, and deposits with HCSSCS), an in-verse relationship between grain size and the hydrodynamic energy re-gime of the ramp setting is observed (Fig. 9). The overall hydrodynamiccontext controls the degree of reworking of the particles forming theremobilized deposits and thus does control the nal grain size of thedeposits. Bioclasts in the distal tempestites, deposited in relativelyprotected basins (Carboneras and Sorbas basins, Fig. 9), did not experi-ence much reworking as once deposited in relatively deep-water set-tings, they were progressively buried by background sediments.Therefore, although fragmented, skeletal particles are close to theiroriginal size (i.e. coarse grained). In the example with the highest ener-gy regime, the deposits with HCSSCS in the North Betic Strait, thecorrelation of grain size and energy regime is consistent with the originof these sedimentary structures. In siliciclastic sediments, the grain sizein the HCSSCS deposits commonly falls within ne-grained sand tocoarse silt (Dott and Bourgeois, 1982). The grain size can be larger inthe case of carbonate particles (Braga et al., 2010), presumably due tothe lower density and shape of the skeletal components, but signicant-ly smaller than the original size of the bioclasts. Therefore, a high-

    energy hydrodynamic regime can easily explain the high degree of

  • 24 . Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127fragmentation and reworking of the skeletal remains required to gener-ate particles which can be removed during storms to form the hum-mocks and swaleys. SGF, responsible for the cutting and inlling of thesubmarine channels and lobe building, transported awide range of skel-etal particles with different shapes, grain sizes, densities, and usuallymixed with siliciclastics grains in variable proportions. The ow behav-iour and sedimentary features recorded in the resulting SGF depositsthus depend on the sediment characteristics. In other cases, the sedi-ment type seemsnot to have inuenced the sediment-redeposition pro-cesses, e.g. in the formation and downslope migration of sandwaves ofthe Guadix Basin.

    6.4. Relative sea-level

    Relative sea-level is a fundamental factor controlling the productionand export of shallow-water carbonate sediments. The genericmodel ofmargin sedimentation known as highstand shedding (Droxler andSchlager, 1985) postulates that the highestuxes of carbonate sedimentto offshore settings occur during relative sea-level highstands, whencarbonate production is maximum, whereas sediment export is lowestduring sea level lowstands due to the turn off of the carbonate produc-tion. This model widely explains sediment export in warm-water car-bonate settings (Glaser and Droxler, 1991; Schlager et al., 1994;Betzler et al., 2013). However, it has been suggested that temperate/cool-water carbonate systems behave similarly to siliciclastic systemsin terms of sequence stratigraphy (James and Bone, 1991; James et al.,1994; Betzler et al., 1997) due to the importance of physical processes(e.g. wave and current reworking) in them. Consequently, signi-cant remobilization would only take place during low sea levelsand highstand shedding would be minor in temperate/cool-watersystems. The depth-independence of the carbonate production,and especially the wider depth-window of the carbonate productioncompared to their tropical-water counterparts (Schlager, 2005), havealso been argued to explain the small or absent effect of highstand shed-ding in the temperate carbonate realm. The latter may be the case oflarge open ocean carbonate platforms but denitely is not the situationin small Mediterranean carbonate ramps where maximum carbonateproduction takes place in relatively shallow-waters within a narrowdepth-range of several tens of metres.

    Regarding the relative sea-level position, most of the remobilizedsediments reviewed here were deposited during highstands and trans-gressions of high-order sea-level uctuations. Similar deposits in thesesea-level conditions have also been documented in other Mediterra-nean temperate-water carbonate ramps (Di Stefano et al., 2007;Dermitzakis et al., 2009; Nalin et al., 2010; Reynaud and James, 2012).Remobilized deposits such as storm beds, turbidites, debrites and de-posits with HCSSCS are event deposits (Einsele et al., 1996) and an im-portant premise in order to generate and potentially preserve eventdeposits in the sedimentary record is the sediment supply (Einsele,1993).

    The highest carbonate production in the Neogene Betic basins tookplace during high sea level when the extent of the carbonate factoryon the ramp was higher, and the accumulation of skeletal particles onthe seaoor was enough to potentially generate the event deposits. Rel-atively sea-level fallsmight overall not cause a full shut down of the fac-tory in temperate-water carbonate systems because the carbonatefactory can easily migrate seawards. However, given the small size ofcarbonate ramps in the Negeone Betic basins, sea-level falls reducedthe size of the carbonate factory and caused the incorporation of mostof the skeletal particles from the factory into the coastal facies belt.This view is consistent with the overall presence of well-developedshoal facies and the absence of offshore remobilized deposits during rel-ative sea-level lowstands in the Agua Amarga, Carboneras and North-Betic Strait basins (Martn et al., 1996, 2004; Braga et al., 2010).

    As a result of high-amplitude sea-level uctuations, such as the ones

    in the Pleistocene (Hansen, 1999; Massari and Chiocci, 2006; Betzleret al., 2011), intense sediment reworking occurred during sea-levelfalls and lowstands formingwell-developed progradingmarginwedges.In the Guadix Basin, the downslope-migrating sandwaves formed partof prograding margin clinoforms in a distally steepened carbonateramp (Puga-Bernabu et al., 2010). The high sediment input enhancedby local terrigenous supply, the offshore directed and persistent cur-rents and the high-frequency sea-level uctuations were the drivingfactors to form such clinoforms. However, this sort of offshoreredeposition was different from that involved in the event-type deposi-tion as it does imply the action of persistent offshore unidirectional cur-rents and not short-lived storm-driven ows as in the case of the eventdeposits.

    In summary, offshore resedimentation of event deposits (stormbeds, SGF deposits and deposits with HCSSCS) in the reviewed exam-ples of the Neogene Betic basins conformswith the highstand sheddingmodel. It remains unanswered whether this sort of deposits did notsignicantly formed during sea-level falls and lows as a consequenceof reduced size of the carbonate factory or whether they did form butthey were subsequently reworked and incorporated into shoals orplatform-margin clinoforms. In any case, event resedimented depositsare a characteristic feature of high-frequency sea-level highstands andtransgressions of Neogene temperate-water carbonates within theMediterranean. They could also be indicative of similar sea-level condi-tions in low-energy carbonate systems in other regions and epochs.

    6.5. Tectonics

    The Neogene Betic basins constitute small intermontane basins,marginal to the western Mediterranean, structured during theMiocenein an active tectonic setting. Although it is often difcult to separate eu-static from tectonically inuenced sea-level change and basin-ll sedi-mentation, tectonics was not a key factor in the generation of theoffshore remobilized deposits reviewed here. In the Neogene Betic ba-sins, tectonics played an important role in generating unconformities(tectono-eustatic), which overall bound third-order stratigraphic units(e.g. Agua Amarga Basin, North-Betic Strait, Sorbas Basin; Martn andBraga, 1994;Martn et al., 1996, 2009) but its inuence is not substantialat higher-order sequences. In active margins, SGF deposition in subma-rine channel systems can be linked to tectonic activity, especially insiliciclastic settings (Nelson et al., 1999; Blumberg et al., 2008;Gutirrez-Pastor et al., 2013). In carbonate systems, however, these de-posits may be relatively independent of tectonic activity (Andresenet al., 2003). This was presumably the case of the submarine channel-lobe system in the Vera Basin where no link to tectonic activity can beinferred from the record of SGF deposits. In this, however, tectonicsexerted a control on the spatial distribution of the submarine lobes.These lobes were progressively migrating to the north of the basindue to the uplift of a submarine swell in the southern area (Bragaet al., 2001).

    6.6. Climate

    All temperate-water carbonate ramps in the Neogene Betic basinsdeveloped in globally cooling conditions after the Miocene ClimaticOptimum ca. 17 to 14.5 Ma ago (Flower and Kennett, 1993; Lewiset al., 2007), and in the western Mediterranean, they alternate withwarm-water carbonate deposits as a result of global climatic cyclesand local palaeogeography of seaway connections (see synthesis inMartn et al., 2010). The reviewed examples of offshore remobilizedsediments show a cyclic deposition during high-frequency sea-level cy-cles. The duration of these cycles are within the Milankovitch band((Martn et al., 1996; Puga-Bernabu et al., 2007a, 2010), suggestingan orbitally-controlled climatic inuence on the high-frequency sea-level uctuations. Orbitally-controlled sea-level uctuations have also

    been interpreted in other Neogene temperate-water sediments from

  • 25. Puga-Bernabu et al. / Sedimentary Geology 304 (2014) 1127theMediterranean region (Roveri and Taviani, 2003; Sierro et al., 2003;Kov et al., 2008).

    Terrigenous supply to the carbonate ramps from the continents canbe inuenced by climate changes. In the revisited examples, however,siliciclastic content is relatively low and where siliciclastic depositioninterfered with carbonate sediments, it did not signicantly alter thetype of offshore redeposit as in the case of the deposits with HCSSCSin the North Betic Strait, and the channel and lobe deposits in the VeraBasin (Braga et al., 2001, 2010).

    Sedimentation rates in temperate-water carbonates are an order ofmagnitude lower than those corresponding to warm-water carbonates(James, 1997). Relatively high accumulation rates in temperate-watersystems are commonly due to hydrodynamic sediment concentration(Nelson et al., 2003). In the Guadix Basin, climate may have controlledthe formation of the resedimented deposits and margin clinoforms bypromoting the supply relatively high amounts of siliciclastics (up to40%) that togetherwith the hydrodynamic sediment concentration con-tributed to offshore sediment export.

    7. Conclusions

    Here, we review several types of offshore-remobilized, temperate-water carbonate deposits in the Neogene basins of the Betic Cordillera(western Mediterranean) and compare them with some other well-known and thoroughly describedMediterranean examples. In these ba-sins, different mechanisms of sediment dispersal acted on carbonateramps, removing sediment from carbonate factories (i.e. areas of maxi-mum carbonate skeletal production and in situ growth of organisms),and accumulating it offshore, close to and below the storm wave base,on outer-ramp, slope, and basin environments.

    A broad variety of topographic and hydrodynamic conditions inu-enced the sediment transport and deposition. Resulting deposits in-clude storm shell beds, deposits with HCS and SCS, debrites, turbidites,slope sandwaves, as well as submarine channel and lobe deposits. Off-shore remobilization sedimentary-facies models in these relativelylow-energy basins are overall more diverse than those in open-ocean,high-energy basins (e.g. southern Australia).

    Storm activity was the main process inducing offshoreresedimentation in the examples reviewed. Within moderate-energy hydrodynamic contexts in the Mediterranean realm, uncon-ned storm-related sediment gravity ows deposited debrites and tur-bidites in moderately-steep homoclinal ramps. Similar ramp gradientbut higher hydrodynamic energy in Atlantic-linked basins and appro-priate sediment grain size favoured the formation of bed packageswithHCS and SCS in relatively deep-water settings. Storm-shell-bed de-position by the short-term hydraulic action of storm return currentstook place sporadically in relatively low-energy settings withinprotected basins, regardless of ramp topography. In some cases, thegeneral circulation pattern within the basin exerted a major controland prevailed over other redeposition mechanisms and processes,such as in the case of offshore-directed persistent unidirectional cur-rents that formed downslope-migrating sandwaves on distally steep-ened ramps. Lastly, different types of channel and lobe depositsresulted from a variety of channelized, short-lived, and erratic owsthat cut and bypassed the slope sediments and spread at the transitionpoint, forming lobes on the basin oor.

    The highest carbonate production, an important condition for gener-ating and potentially preserve event deposits, occurred during high sealevel. Therefore, the highstand shedding model of sediment export ex-plains the event-type resedimented deposits (i.e. SGF, storm beds, de-posits with HCSSCS). The downslope-migrating sandwaves, whichbuilt prograding margin clinoforms during falling and low sea level,formed by a different process, the action of a persistent offshore unidi-rectional currents.

    The integratingmodel presented here highlights thewide variability

    of remobilized facies that can be found within small-scale outer ramps,slopes, and basins in theMediterranean realm. This model also providesa detailed sedimentary framework, essential to understand the deposi-tional and erosive processes that sculpt temperate-water carbonate-ramp margins and can facilitate the interpretation of comparable de-posits in other low-energy basins worldwide.


    This work was funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacin(Spain), Project CGL 201020857. We thank Jeff Lukasik (Statoil), forhis comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We are grateful toDavid Nesbitt for correcting the English text. We thank Ronald Nalinfor his constructive revision and the comments by an anonymousreviewer.


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    Offshore remobilization processes and deposits in low-energytemperate-water carbonate-ramp systems: Examples from the Neogenebasins of the Betic Cordillera (SE Spain)1. Introduction2. Overview of the temperate-water carbonate ramps in the Neogene Betic basins3. Dataset and geological context3.1. Agua Amarga Basin3.2. Carboneras Basin3.3. Sorbas Basin3.4. Vera Basin3.5. Guadix Basin3.6. North Betic Strait

    4. Classification of the offshore remobilised deposits5. Types of deposits5.1. Deposits related to unconfined flows5.1.1. Sediment gravity flow deposits: fan-bedded deposits5.1.2. Storm-driven unidirectional current deposits: storm shell beds5.1.3. Oscillatory-dominant combined flow deposits: deposits with hummocky and swaley cross-stratification5.1.4. Persistent unidirectional traction current deposits: slope sandwaves

    5.2. Deposits related to confined flows5.2.1. Sediment gravity flow deposits: channel deposits and related lobe deposits

    6. Controlling factors and integrated model6.1. Hydrodynamics6.2. Seafloor topography and basin configuration6.3. Sediment characteristics6.4. Relative sea-level6.5. Tectonics6.6. Climate

    7. ConclusionsAcknowledgementsReferences


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