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Laramide Tectonics and Humid Alluvial Fan Sedimentation, Ne Uinta Uplift, Utah and Wyoming
Steven G. Crews (1), Frank G. Ethridge
Laramide uplift and erosion of the Uinta Mountains are recorded in a 10-km-long outcrop of the Lower Eocene Wasatch Formation, on the Utah-Wyoming border. This 750-m-thick package of interbedded sandstones and conglomerates is dominated by a coarsening then fining-upward megasequence 650 m thick that records the growth and abandonment of a humid alluvial fun system during a major cycle of uplift and unroofing of the thrust-bounded northern flank of the Uinta mountains. Grain size, thickness, and lateral extent of channel-complex deposits increase upward in the lower 400 m of the sequence, reflecting construction and northward progradation of the fan. Grain size and channel-complex thickness decrease upward in the upper 250 m of the sequence, reflecting gradual reduction of both sedime t yield and sediment caliber during postorogenic lowering of source-area relief.
Within the megasequence, coarsening-up sequences 10-100 m thick built mainly of channel-complex deposits reflect progradation of fan lobes, punctuated by periodic fan-head avulsions. These medium-scale sequences in turn comprise small-scale fining-up cycles 1-10 m thick that reflect such fluvial processes on the fan as bar building, discrete flood events, and the filling and lateral migration of braided-stream channels. Both the medium-scale and small-scale sequences are commonly underlain by paleosols. Evidence of debris flows or other mass-movement processes is conspicuously lacking.
Above the main megasequence a second, thinner megasequence containing lacustrine mudstones and wave-reworked conglomerates indicates that the fan persisted as a locus of coarse clastic deposition during the first of a series of lacustrine transgressions that began as ratios of sediment flux to subsidence rate decreased toward the end of the Early Eocene. Partial inundation of the fan during this transgression transformed it into a fan delta.
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