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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 68 (1984)

Issue: 4. (April)

First Page: 521

Last Page: 521

Title: Provenance and Depositional Environments of Middle Eocene Canoe Formation, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas: ABSTRACT

Author(s): Catherine A. Rigsby


The middle Eocene Canoe Formation contains the first sedimentologic evidence of local volcanism in the Big Bend region. Sediments comprising the formation's lower member, the Big Yellow Sandstone, were deposited by sandy braided streams which were scoured by ancient carbonate highlands and volcanic terranes to the west. The unit represents a continuation of the depositional styles and compositional trends recorded in the Paleocene and early Eocene strata of the region. In contrast, sediments comprising the upper, unnamed member of the Canoe Formation were deposited as a volcanic sediment apron on the fringes of the newly forming Chisos Mountains volcanic center. The sandstones (feldspathic litharenites and lithic arkoses) are dominated by volcanic rock fragments and, as s ch, document an abrupt change in depositional style and sediment composition brought about by the onset of local volcanism.

A comparison of Canoe Formation and earlier Tertiary sediment compositions results in the delineation of distinct petrologic trends which record the tectonic evolution of the early Tertiary sediment source area. The Paleocene sediments of the area were derived primarily from ancient magmatic arcs in northeastern Mexico. With the onset of the Laramide orogeny in late Paleocene-early Eocene, a new source of sediment--newly uplifted carbonate highlands--was added. Local volcanism in the middle Eocene produced yet another source of sediment, lava flows, ash flow tuffs, and sand-size pyroclastic materials from the Chisos Mountain volcanic center. Rapid erosion of these materials produced volcanic sediment aprons such as the one described here. As regional volcanic activity increased, typic l Paleocene and early Eocene depositional styles may have been completely abandoned, especially in areas proximal to the volcanic centers.

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