Modeling shallow marine carbonate depositional systems

Jon Hill, Daniel Tetzlaff, Andrew Curtis, Rachel Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geological Process Models (GPMs) have been used in the past to simulate the distinctive stratigraphies formed in carbonate sediments, and to explore the interaction of controls that produce heterogeneity. Previous GPMs have only indirectly included the supersaturation of calcium carbonate in seawater, a key physicochemical control on carbonate production in reef and lagoon environments, by modifying production rates based on the distance from open marine sources. We here use the residence time of water in the lagoon and reef areas as a proxy for the supersaturation state of carbonate in a new process model, Carbonate GPM. Residence times in the model are calculated using a particle-tracking algorithm. Carbonate production is also controlled by water depth and wave power dissipation. Once deposited, sediment can be eroded, transported and re-deposited via both advective and diffusive processes. We show that using residence time as a control on production might explain the formation of non-ordered, three-dimensional carbonate stratigraphies by lateral shifts in the locus of carbonate deposition on timescales comparable to so-called 5th-order sea-level oscillations. We also show that representing supersaturation as a function of distance from open marine sources, as in previous models, cannot correctly predict the supersaturation distribution over a lagoon due to the intricacies of the flow regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1862-1874
Number of pages13
JournalComputers & geosciences
Issue number9
Early online date24 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Carbonate
  • Numerical modeling
  • Reef
  • Supersaturation
  • Geological process model

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