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The Carnian (middle to late Middle Triassic Age) Richmond basin of northeast Virginia is the oldest of the exposed Newark rift basins of the eastern seaboard. These basins formed during the Mesozoic divergence of the continents. As presently defined, the Richmond basin is a large synclinal feature measuring 32 mi (53 km) long by 8 mi (13 km) wide, and is located west of Richmond, Virginia, and east of Amelia, Virginia. Sediments of the Richmond basin have been assigned to the Richmond Group and have been stratigraphically subdivided into the following informal units, oldest to youngest: coarse boulder breccias, coal measures, Vinita Beds, and Otterdale Sandstone.
The Vinita Beds are composed of arkosic sandstones, shales, siltstones, and minor amounts of coal, and are mineralogically immature. They are composed of angular to subrounded rock fragments, quartz, and feldspars, and are highly micaceous and kaolinitic. In places, feldspars make up as much as 50% of the rock. Sandstones and conglomerates are cross-bedded and channeled, and shales and siltstones are thinly laminated. The Vinita Beds are rich in fossil fish, branchiopods, and plant fragments. These rocks were deposited in braided streams as well as in paludal and possible lacustrine environments in a humid and heavily vegetated setting.
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