Sequence stratigraphic interpretation in marginal marine settings by the approach of parasequence-thickness-to-sandstone-fraction ratio: Case studies of the Gallup and Ferron outcrops in the Western Interior Basin, U.S.A. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • ABSTRACT The parasequence-thickness-to-sandstone-fraction ratio (TSF) is a simple but potentially powerful tool to identify stratal stacking patterns and associated systems tracts in siliciclastic paralic sequences. Parasequence thickness (T) reflects accommodation, and the sandstone fraction (SF) may serve as a proxy for the rate of sediment supply. Although previous research shows the effectiveness of applying TSF techniques to sequence stratigraphic analyses in siliciclastic depositional environments, constraints and analytical procedures of the technique are still not clearly illustrated. The paleogeography and sequence stratigraphy of the Cretaceous Gallup system and Ferron Notom deltaic complex in the Western Interior Basin have been extensively studied, providing an opportunity to explore the applicability and detailed workflow of the TSF method. TSF analyses are conducted first on two representative measured sections from the Gallup and the Ferron outcrops, respectively. The TSF analyses of the two one-dimensional (1D) sections are capable of identifying transgressive–regressive (T-R) cycles of the two deltas. However, the 1D sections can reflect the accommodation and sediment supply change only at single locations, which limits their usefulness in identification of stratigraphically consecutive parasequences and composite bounding surfaces. The utility of TSF analyses on cross sections is then tested on a depositional-dip transect of the Gallup delta, as well as dip-oblique and strike-oblique cross sections of the Ferron Notom delta. Parameters of T and SF are acquired from measured sections as well as interpolated virtual sections. For both the Gallup system and the Ferron Notom deltaic complex, the cross-sectional TSF analyses are more effective in recognizing systems tracts and associated bounding surfaces than the TSF analyses in 1D sections. Because dip-oriented cross sections usually encompass both proximal and distal parts of parasequences, and preserve stratigraphically continuous successions, they can provide more complete information for TSF interpretations than strike-oriented cross sections. Above all, TSF analysis via both measured and virtual sections along a depositional-dip profile is inclined to result in sequence stratigraphic categories that best match those based on the full set of geological observations. TSF analyses can also be used to identify general direction of shoreline trajectories in both the Gallup and Ferron Notom deltas. Parameterization of T, SF, and maximum progradation distance for both the Gallup and Ferron Notom parasequences are used to indicate shelf gradients throughout their deposition. The prominent differences of the shelf gradients between different deltaic parasequences indicate differences in allogenic and autogenic controls on the development of T-R sequences in these two deltas.

publication date

  • February 28, 2022