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Clinothems document the progradation of sedimentary strata. Their geometries allow us to define shelf-edge trajectories, which are widely used to infer variations in relative sea-level, spatial and temporal partitioning of depositional environments, and the timing of sediment delivery to the slope and basin-floor. Here, we present a novel perspective on trajectory reconstruction of buried successions, applying a decompaction technique that explicitly accounts for down-dip lithology variations within clinothems. We show that preferential compaction of fine-grained foresets and bottomsets results in a basinward rotation of trajectories and a distortion of primary clinothem geometries. In some cases, shelf-edge trajectories change from rising to apparently falling after burial, potentially leading to erroneous interpretations of original basin-margin physiography, relative sea level fluctuations, and incorrect predictions for the timing and volume of sediment transfer to deep water.
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