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The southern Alps of Italy preserve a tectonically intact array of Jurassic facies that record the evolution of a part of the margin of the Apulian plate from its ancestral beginnings in a complex of Permian and Triassic rifted continental basins through the initial stages of breakup and stepwise foundering of a carbonate platform. Breakup was accompanied first by the rapid accumulation of thick prisms of carbonate turbidites in newly formed fault troughs. Then, as the new Ligurian oceanic basin began to open farther west and, as subsidence gradually slowed, accumulation of a succession of slowly deposited biogenous pelagic sediments recorded not only the increasing depths of the seafloor but also fluctuations in oceanographic conditions of fertility, carbonate dissolutio levels, and the strength of bottom currents.
Estimates of the history of seafloor depths, based on a simple subsidence law of the form Subsidence = K(Age)12/, provide a basis for the construction of a set of curves showing the changing depths of significant carbonate dissolution surfaces during the Jurassic in this region. The rapid 1-km deepening of the compensation depth for calcite during the Late Jurassic may be due to a change in regional oceanic vertical circulation patterns from upwelling (fertile, silica-rich, carbonate dissolving) to downwelling (less fertile, silica-poor, carbonate preserving).
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