Journal article

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Atolls are faithful recorders helping us understand eustatic variations, the evolution of carbonate production through time, and changes in magmatic hotspots activity. Several early Cretaceous Mid-Pacific atolls were previously investigated through ocean drilling, but due to the low quality of vintage seismic data available, few spatial constraints exist on their stratigraphic evolution and large-scale diagenesis. Here, we present results from an integrated core-log-seismic study at Resolution Guyot and comparison with modern and ancient analogues. We identify six seismic-stratigraphic units: (1) platform initiation with aggradation and backstepping through the Hauterivian which ended by platform emersion; (2) reflooding of the platform with progradation and aggradation through the Barremian till the early-Aptian when ocean anoxic event 1a resulted in incipient drowning; (3) platform backstepping till the mid-Aptian when the platform shifted to progradation and aggradation till the mid-Albian; (4) platform emersion; (5) reflooding with backstepping ending at the latest-Albian by platform emersion; and (6) final drowning. The stratigraphic surfaces bounding these units are coeval with some of the Cretaceous eustatic events, which suggest an eustatic control on the evolution of this atoll and confirm that several previously reported sea-level variations in the early Cretaceous are driven by eustasy. Changes in subsidence and carbonate production rates and suspected later magmatism have also impacted the stratigraphic evolution. The suspected later magmatism could lead to environmental perturbations and potentially platform demise. Contrary to previous studies, we identify two emersion events during the mid- and late-Albian which resulted in intensive meteoric dissolution and karstification. The platform margin syndepositional fractures interacted with the subaerial exposure events by focusing the dissolution which formed vertically stacked flank-margin fracture-cave system. The study gives a unique insight into the interplay between eustasy, subsidence, and volcanic activity(ies) on long-term evolution of early Cretaceous shallow-marine carbonates. It also documents the impact and distribution of hypogenic and epigenic fluid-flow in atolls serving as an analogue for isolated carbonate platforms.

Publication date: 
Saturday, April 16, 2022