Marshall Paraconformity: A mid-Oligocene record of inception of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and coeval glacio-eustatic lowstand?

Craig S. Fulthorpe, Robert M. Carter, Kenneth G. Miller, Julia Wilson

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The sedimentary fill of the Canterbury Basin, New Zealand, is the product of a long-term (80 Ma), tectonically controlled relative sea-level cycle with a megasequence geometry analogous to the sequence stratigraphic model of Vail (Am. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. Stud. Geol. No. 27, 1, 1-10, 1987). The condensed section of the megasequence, resolvable in detail in outcrop and on seismic profiles, comprises a basin-wide pelagic to hemipelagic limestone interval. A regional mid-Oligocene unconformity, the Marshall Paraconformity, lies within the limestone interval onshore and correlates with hiatuses in at least two, and possibly three, offshore exploration wells and with a temporary lithological change from limestone to quartz sand at a fourth. Strontium isotopic age estimates confirm that a 2-4 Ma hiatus is associated with onshore outcrops of the Marshall Paraconformity (between ∼32 and 29 Ma), which correlates with the opening of the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean and the postulated mid-Oligocene sea-level fall of Haq et al. (Science 235, 1156-1167, 1987; Spec. Publ. Soc. Econ. Paleonotol. Mineral. No. 42, 71-108, 1988). Lowering of base level, coupled with cooling and enhancement of current activity, may have caused the temporary cessation of limestone deposition and a regional hiatus. This hypothesis reconciles the apparently contradictory palaeogeographical evidence for a regional highstand. The Marshall Paraconformity may exemplify the signature by which similar glacioeustatic events can be recognized in offshore platform facies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Geophysics
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


  • Antarctic circumpolar current
  • Sea-level changes
  • Sequence stratigraphy


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