International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 108, Issue 6, pp 1773–1792 | Cite as

Marine carbonate factories: a global model of carbonate platform distribution

  • Julien MichelEmail author
  • Marie Laugié
  • Alexandre Pohl
  • Cyprien Lanteaume
  • Jean-Pierre Masse
  • Yannick Donnadieu
  • Jean Borgomano
Review Article


Platform carbonates are a major component of the Earth system, but their spatial distribution through geological times is difficult to reconstruct, due to the incompleteness of geological records, sampling heterogeneity, and their intrinsic complexity. Beyond this complexity, carbonates are not randomly distributed in the world oceans, neither in the modern nor in the past, and thus, global trends exist. In the present review, we focus on the understanding of the spatial distribution of carbonate production at a global scale. We use a deterministic approach, which focuses on discriminating components, stratigraphic architectures, and environmental features to relate shallow-water carbonate production to oceanographic parameters. The work is based on extensive literature reviews on carbonate platforms. Ecological niche modelling coupled with deep-time general circulation models is used to calibrate a predictive tool of carbonate factory distribution. A carbonate factory function is set up that is based on sea-surface oceanographic parameters (temperature, salinity, and primary productivity). The model was tested using remote-sensing and in situ oceanographic data of Modern times, while outputs of paleoceanographic models are utilized for Lower Aptian (Cretaceous) modelling. The approach allows determining four neritic carbonate factories that are called the marine biochemical, photozoan, photo-C-, and heterozoan factories. The model finely simulates the global distribution of Lower Aptian and Modern carbonate platforms. Carbonate factories appear to thrive for specific ranges along the environmental gradient of carbonate saturation. This conceptual scheme appears to be able to provide a simple, universal model of paleoclimatic zones of shallow-water marine carbonates.


Carbonate factory Carbonate prediction Global distribution Paleoceanographic model Paleoclimatology 



Thanks are expressed to Total E&P for funding a significant part of the project and for granting permission to publish. Patrick Sorriaux, Emmanuelle Poli (Total RD Carbonate), Jérôme Hennuy and Jeroen Kenter (Total ISS Carbonate-PIT Geology) are thanked for their interaction with the project, as well as several scientists from Aix-Marseille University-CEREGE including Alexandre Lettéron, RD and ISS Carbonate including Sara Drachenberg (Total, Pau) and Denis Allemand (Scientific Center of Monaco, CSM) for interesting discussions. The authors thank the ‘SIGEO’ GIS service at CEREGE for providing access to the ArcGIS software, the CEA/CCRT for providing access to the HPC resources of TGCC under the allocation 2014-012212 made by GENCI, Pierre Sepulchre (LSCE, Gif-sur-Yvette, France) for providing the Köppen code used for analysis of the FOAM output, and Christopher R. Scotese (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA) for providing the Aptian paleogeographical reconstruction. We are grateful to Pamela Hallock and John J. G. Reijmer for their constructive reviews.


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© Geologische Vereinigung e.V. (GV) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, INRA, Coll FranceCEREGEAix-en-ProvenceFrance
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA
  3. 3.MODIS, PauPauFrance

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