Development of a Mississippian–Lower Pennsylvanian isolated carbonate platform within the basinal griotte facies of the Cantabrian Mountains, NW Spain

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The Valdediezma platform consists of upper Tournaisian to lower Bashkirian (Carboniferous) shallow-water carbonates deposited in the core of the Picos de Europa Province (Cantabrian Mountains, northwest Spain). Although faulted in several thrust sheets, it is the only preserved platform developed in the Mississippian starved basins of the southern branch of the Variscan Orogen that is characterised also by pelagic sedimentation. This unusual platform provides an exceptional opportunity to study the lateral variation from the platform to the typical condensed griotte limestones developed in a starved basin, the origin of such a platform in a particularly unfavourable setting for carbonate accumulation, as well as the nucleation of the subsequent widespread Pennsylvanian carbonate platforms of the Cantabrian Mountains. Sixteen carbonate microfacies are differentiated in the Valdediezma Limestone, from shallow-water to slope to basinal environments. The carbonate production is related to the submarine topography and the rapid rates of microbial mound growth and accumulation, particularly from the upper Viséan to the lower Serpukhovian. A high-elevation platform and steep southern margin occurred during the deposition of condensed cephalopod-bearing limestones in the basin. A higher rate of carbonate accumulation is recognised from the upper Serpukhovian and younger, with similar thicknesses in shallow- and deeper water settings. The thickest part of the succession was coeval with the larger subsidence resulting from the migration of the Variscan deformation at the margin of the foreland basin of the Cantabrian Zone. The migration of deformation along the foreland uplifted the Valdediezma platform from the lower Bashkirian and caused its partial erosion. The Pennsylvanian carbonate platform developed on an exhumed Mississippian platform. Tectonic overloading due to the emplacement of nearby thrust sheets caused the subsidence and burial of the Valdediezma platform in the upper Moscovian.