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Although turbidite facies reflect only their processes of deposition, turbidite facies associations are routinely used to identify ancient submarine-fan systems and their subenvironments (e.g., upper fan, channel, etc). This credulous leap from interpreting process of deposition to interpreting environment of deposition may not be valid for the following reasons: (1) Mutti and Ricci Lucchi's facies association scheme was developed exclusively from the study of ancient turbidite sequences; however, the true relationship between turbidite facies associations and related environments has not been adequately documented in modern settings; (2) channel-levee complexes of many modern submarine fans such as those of the Amazon and Mississippi are large enough to contain most anci nt fan systems in their entirety; and (3) comparable channel-levee complexes have not been recognized in outcrop. Consequently, the validity of turbidite facies associations for interpreting ancient submarine-fan systems and their subenvironments must be considered tenuous until confirmed by detailed core studies of a variety of modern fans.
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