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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Special Volumes


Chapter from: M 64:  Sequence Stratigraphy of Foreland Basin Deposits
Edited By 
J.C. Van Wagoner and G.T. Bertram

David C. Jennette and Clive R. Jones

Seismic/Sequence Stratigraphy

Published 1995 as part of Memoir 64
Copyright © 1995 The American Association of Petroleum Geologists.   All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 10


Sequence Stratigraphy of the Upper Cretaceous Tocito Sandstone: A Model for Tidally Influenced Incised Valleys, 
San Juan Basin, New Mexico

David C. Jennette

Clive R. Jones

Exxon Production Research Company

Houston, Texas, U.S.A.



In the subsurface of the San Juan basin, New Mexico, the Coniacian Tocito Sandstone is composed of four high-frequency sequences. Basal sequence boundaries are marked by erosional truncation of underlying strata and have mappable axes of erosion which are typically narrow and linear. These erosional features are interpreted to be incised valleys cut by fluvial and estuarine processes during lowstands in relative sea level. Two end-member facies are found in the valley fills: (1) a low-energy mudstone-dominated facies with thin-bedded and bioturbated sandstones, and (2) a high-energy facies chiefly consisting of medium- to coarse-grained glauconitic sandstone. Tidal indicators in this facies include double clay drapes, flaser and lenticular bedding, and large- to small-scale sigmoidal cross-bedding. Iron-cemented shale rip-up clasts, quartz and phosphatic pebbles, sharks' teeth, and detrital fragments of Inoceramus and oyster shells also characterize the Tocito Sandstone. Paleophycus, Thalassinoides, and Planolites burrows with locally abundant Ophiomorpha burrows typify the low-diversity, low- to moderate-abundance trace-fossil suite. The combination of lithofacies, sedimentary structures, and ichnofauna indicates lowstand deposition within tide-dominated estuarine systems. The sandstone-prone fills are considered proximal facies connected to fluvial systems, whereas the shalier facies are interpreted to be more distal fills laid down as the estuaries expanded to form large embayments.

Valley systems show a sequential change in geometry and fill type in vertical profile: older valleys are narrow and sandstone filled and give way to broader systems which are filled with strata which are more shale-prone. The result is a retrogradational stacking of the sequences or a transgressive sequence set. This stacking pattern, coupled with the erosional juxtaposition of the valley fills, created many stratigraphic traps for hydrocarbons. The two principal trap types are: (1) bends in valley axes where valley-fill sandstones

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