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Carbonates from the central parts of epicontinental seas are ideal strata for detailed study of eustatic sea level change. On the basis of sedimentation model in which carbonate accumulation rate is directly proportional to water depth, we developed synthetic stratigraphies for sea level histories expected for post-glacial transgression and for constant and sinusoidally fluctuating ocean ridge volume increase. These histories give distinctly different trends for water depth as a function of stratigraphic position in the sections' bathymetric curves. In general, water depth is proportional to the rate of sea level rise. Depth-dependent sedimentation leads to a time lag between sea level fluctuation and corresponding depth fluctuation which, as examples show, can approach 1 6 years for depth fluctuations of even a few meters--a fundamental consideration for reconstructing sea level curves, time-correlating sections by bathymetric curves, and relating water depth on continents to ocean ridge volume.
Bathymetric curves based on gradient analysis of fossil assemblages (coenocorrelation curves) for American Middle Ordovician sections approximate patterns expected for sinusoidally increasing sea level. The model's predictions are tested in an "artificial experiment" that takes advantage of differential subsidence between the craton's middle and its edge to make a difference in the bathymetric histories of sections that otherwise record the same sea level history. The depth dependence in sedimentation was that above wave base net accumulation per year was very roughly 3 × 10-6 of the water depth.
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