Controls on large-scale patterns of fluvial sandbody distribution in alluvial to coastal plain strata: Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, Wasatch Plateau, Central Utah, USA

G.J. Hampson, M. Royhan Gani, H. Sahoo, A. Rittersbacher, N. Irfan, A. Ranson, T.O. Jewell, N.D.S. Gani, J.A. Howell, S.J. Buckley, B. Bracken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Current models of alluvial to coastal plain stratigraphy are concept-driven and focus on relative sea-level as an allogenic control. These models are tested herein using data from a large (ca 100 km long and 300 m thick), continuous outcrop belt (Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, central Utah, USA). Many channelized fluvial sandbodies in the Blackhawk Formation have a multilateral and multistorey internal character, and they generally increase in size and abundance (from ca 10% to ca 30% of the strata) from base to top of the formation. These regional, low-resolution trends exhibit much local variation, but are interpreted to reflect progressively decreasing tectonic subsidence in the upper Blackhawk Formation and overlying Castlegate Sandstone. The trend may also incorporate progressively more frequent channel avulsion during deposition of the lower Blackhawk Formation. Laterally extensive coal zones formed on the coastal plain during shallow-marine transgressions, and define the high-resolution stratigraphic framework of the lower Blackhawk Formation. Large (up to 25 m thick and 1 to 6 km wide), multistorey, multilateral, fluvial channel-complex sandbodies that overlie composite erosion surfaces occur at distinct stratigraphic levels, and are interpreted as fluvial incised valley fills. Low amplitude (<30 m) relative sea-level variations are interpreted as the dominant control on stratigraphic architecture in the lower Blackhawk Formation, which was deposited up to 50 km inland from the coeval shoreline. In contrast, the high-resolution stratigraphy of the upper Blackhawk Formation is poorly defined, and channelized fluvial sandbodies are poorly organized. Vertical and laterally offset stacking of a small proportion (<10%) of sandbodies produced ‘clusters’ that are not confined by ‘master’ erosion surfaces. Avulsion is interpreted to dominate the stratigraphic architecture of the upper Blackhawk Formation. This data-driven analysis indicates that alluvial to coastal plain stratigraphic architecture reflects a combination of various allogenic controls and autogenic behaviours. The relative sea-level control emphasized in sequence stratigraphic models is only rarely dominant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2226-2258
Number of pages33
JournalSedimentology
Volume59
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jul 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

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coastal plain
avulsion
plateau
sea level
Cretaceous
stratigraphy
erosion
incised valley
valley fill
stacking
transgression
shoreline
outcrop
subsidence
sandstone
coal
tectonics
distribution
trend
analysis

Keywords

  • alluvial plain
  • Blackhawk formation
  • coastal plain
  • depositional strike
  • fluvial sandbody
  • stratigraphic architecture

Cite this

Controls on large-scale patterns of fluvial sandbody distribution in alluvial to coastal plain strata : Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, Wasatch Plateau, Central Utah, USA. / Hampson, G.J.; Royhan Gani, M.; Sahoo, H.; Rittersbacher, A.; Irfan, N.; Ranson, A.; Jewell, T.O.; Gani, N.D.S.; Howell, J.A.; Buckley, S.J.; Bracken, B.

In: Sedimentology, Vol. 59, No. 7, 12.2012, p. 2226-2258.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hampson, GJ, Royhan Gani, M, Sahoo, H, Rittersbacher, A, Irfan, N, Ranson, A, Jewell, TO, Gani, NDS, Howell, JA, Buckley, SJ & Bracken, B 2012, 'Controls on large-scale patterns of fluvial sandbody distribution in alluvial to coastal plain strata: Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, Wasatch Plateau, Central Utah, USA' Sedimentology, vol. 59, no. 7, pp. 2226-2258. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3091.2012.01342.x
Hampson, G.J. ; Royhan Gani, M. ; Sahoo, H. ; Rittersbacher, A. ; Irfan, N. ; Ranson, A. ; Jewell, T.O. ; Gani, N.D.S. ; Howell, J.A. ; Buckley, S.J. ; Bracken, B. / Controls on large-scale patterns of fluvial sandbody distribution in alluvial to coastal plain strata : Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, Wasatch Plateau, Central Utah, USA. In: Sedimentology. 2012 ; Vol. 59, No. 7. pp. 2226-2258.
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abstract = "Current models of alluvial to coastal plain stratigraphy are concept-driven and focus on relative sea-level as an allogenic control. These models are tested herein using data from a large (ca 100 km long and 300 m thick), continuous outcrop belt (Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, central Utah, USA). Many channelized fluvial sandbodies in the Blackhawk Formation have a multilateral and multistorey internal character, and they generally increase in size and abundance (from ca 10{\%} to ca 30{\%} of the strata) from base to top of the formation. These regional, low-resolution trends exhibit much local variation, but are interpreted to reflect progressively decreasing tectonic subsidence in the upper Blackhawk Formation and overlying Castlegate Sandstone. The trend may also incorporate progressively more frequent channel avulsion during deposition of the lower Blackhawk Formation. Laterally extensive coal zones formed on the coastal plain during shallow-marine transgressions, and define the high-resolution stratigraphic framework of the lower Blackhawk Formation. Large (up to 25 m thick and 1 to 6 km wide), multistorey, multilateral, fluvial channel-complex sandbodies that overlie composite erosion surfaces occur at distinct stratigraphic levels, and are interpreted as fluvial incised valley fills. Low amplitude (<30 m) relative sea-level variations are interpreted as the dominant control on stratigraphic architecture in the lower Blackhawk Formation, which was deposited up to 50 km inland from the coeval shoreline. In contrast, the high-resolution stratigraphy of the upper Blackhawk Formation is poorly defined, and channelized fluvial sandbodies are poorly organized. Vertical and laterally offset stacking of a small proportion (<10{\%}) of sandbodies produced ‘clusters’ that are not confined by ‘master’ erosion surfaces. Avulsion is interpreted to dominate the stratigraphic architecture of the upper Blackhawk Formation. This data-driven analysis indicates that alluvial to coastal plain stratigraphic architecture reflects a combination of various allogenic controls and autogenic behaviours. The relative sea-level control emphasized in sequence stratigraphic models is only rarely dominant.",
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