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Structure-Stratigraphy Interactions and landscape evolution of a structurally confined basin, Ainsa Basin, Spain


Eocene strata of the Ainsa Basin (Spain) contain clastic and carbonate strata deposited in a relatively small (100 km^2), structurally active piggyback foreland basin. The basin is bounded by the Mediano Anticline to the east and the Boltana Anticline to the west. Clastic strata were sourced by an eastern fluvial-deltaic system whereas carbonate strata were sourced from shallow-water carbonate systems that rimmed the southern and western margins of the basin. Four time-stratigraphic units, which form an upward transect through the basin-fill succession, were studied in detail: Ainsa, Morillo, Guaso, Sobrarbe-Escanilla. The transect records progressive uplift of the basin-bounding structures, spatial-temporal changes in the amount and location of maximum subsidence, and temporal changes in the landscape. The Ainsa unit contains submarine channels that entered the basin from the east and exited the basin to the northwest, although some channels locally transfer to lobes near the northwest end of the basin. The Morillo unit contains submarine channels that entered the basin from the east, dispersed onto the basin floor, then converged at the western end of the basin where they continued onto the longitudinally adjacent Jaca Basin. The Guaso unit contains submarine channels that entered the basin from the east and transfer to a ponded distributive submarine fan at the center of the basin. The Escanilla-Sobrarbe unit contains a linked shelf-to-basin system that entered the basin from the south, prograded northward and records the final filling of the basin. Four lines of evidence collectively support the basin-fill succession was deposited during structural growth. First, the depocenter, which is interpreted to reflect the position of maximum subsidence during deposition, of the systems systematically shifted southwestward as the basin filled. Second, the updip feeder system systematically shifted southward as the basin filled. Third, many of the the stratigraphic units are locally separated by progressive unconformities at the Mediano Anticline. Forth, carbonate-clast, sediment-gravity flow deposits were continually sourced off of the Boltana Anticline. The upward succession generally records a shallowing of the basin through time indicating that sediment supply exceeded the rate at which accommodation was created in the basin.