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Stratigraphic Record of River-Dominated Crevasse Subdeltas With Tidal Influence (Lajas Formation, Argentina)
Crevasse subdeltas develop on modern river-dominated delta plains, and may be affected by the interaction of river currents and marine processes. However, their sedimentology and stratigraphic architecture is poorly constrained, leading to simplistic depositional models of delta-plain systems in the ancient record. Extensive exposures of the Middle Jurassic Lajas Formation permit the architecture, main stratigraphic surfaces, and lateral and vertical facies variations of crevasse subdelta deposits to be constrained. Lower-delta-plain successions studied in the Lajas Formation consist of up to 5-m-thick distributary channels and interdistributary-bay deposits, interpreted as crevasse subdeltas. Crevasse subdelta deposits consist of small-scale lenticular units (∼ 1–2 m thick) interpreted as crevasse channels and upward-coarsening and upward-thickening packages (∼ 2 m thick) with clinothems interpreted as crevasse mouth bars. These deposits preserve interbedding of coarser and finer sediments that are interpreted as river flood and interflood couplets associated with variations in river discharge. River flood beds are commonly structureless and erosionally based, and show little evidence of tidal action and brackish-water conditions. Interflood deposits show rhythmically distributed mudstone drapes, bimodality, and brackish trace fossils. This study highlights an important but largely undocumented component of interdistributary deposits consisting of tide-influenced, but strongly river-dominated, prograding depositional bodies. An implication is that some coarsening-upward, forward-accreting units previously interpreted from the rock record as interchannel “tidal bars” may instead represent minor mouth bars of tide-influenced crevasse subdeltas. Furthermore, present-day crevasse subdeltas are restricted to river-dominated delta systems that flow into semi-enclosed or enclosed seas and lakes with microtidal conditions and limited wave action, which is comparable to paleogeographic reconstructions for the Neuquén Basin during the Middle Jurassic.
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