Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Geomorphology, facies architecture, and high-resolution, non-marine sequence stratigraphy in avulsion deposits, Cumberland Marshes, Saskatchewan

January 1, 2001

This paper demonstrates field relationships between landforms, facies, and high-resolution sequences in avulsion deposits. It defines the building blocks of a prograding avulsion sequence from a high-resolution sequence stratigraphy perspective, proposes concepts in non-marine sequence stratigraphy and flood basin evolution, and defines the continental equivalent to a parasequence. The geomorphic features investigated include a distributary channel and its levee, the Stage I crevasse splay of Smith et al. (Sedimentology, vol. 36 (1989) 1), and the local backswamp. Levees and splays have been poorly studied in the past, and three-dimensional (3D) studies are rare. In this study, stratigraphy is defined from the finest scale upward and facies are mapped in 3D. Genetically related successions are identified by defining a hierarchy of bounding surfaces. The genesis, architecture, geometry, and connectivity of facies are explored in 3D. The approach used here reveals that avulsion deposits are comparable in process, landform, facies, bounding surfaces, and scale to interdistributary bayfill, i.e. delta lobe deposits. Even a simple Stage I splay is a complex landform, composed of several geomorphic components, several facies and many depositional events. As in bayfill, an alluvial ridge forms as the feeder crevasse and its levees advance basinward through their own distributary mouth bar deposits to form a Stage I splay. This produces a shoestring-shaped concentration of disconnected sandbodies that is flanked by wings of heterolithic strata, that join beneath the terminal mouth bar. The proposed results challenge current paradigms. Defining a crevasse splay as a discrete sandbody potentially ignores 70% of the landform's volume. An individual sandbody is likely only a small part of a crevasse splay complex. The thickest sandbody is a terminal, channel associated feature, not a sheet that thins in the direction of propagation. The three stage model of splay evolution proposed by Smith et al. (Sedimentology, vol. 36 (1989) 1) is revised to include facies and geometries consistent with a bayfill model. By analogy with delta lobes, the avulsion sequence is a parasequence, provided that its definition is modified to be independent from sea level. In non-marine settings, facies contacts at the tops of regional peats, coals, and paleosols are analogous to marine flooding surfaces. A parasequence is redefined here as a relatively conformable succession of genetically related strata or landforms that is bounded by regional flooding surfaces or their correlative surfaces. This broader definition incorporates the concept of landscape evolution between regional flooding surfaces in a variety of depositional settings. With respect to landscape evolution, accommodation space has three spatial dimensions - vertical (x), lateral (y), and down-the-basin (z). A flood basin fills in as landforms vertically (x) and laterally accrete (y), and prograde down-the-basin (z). Vertical aggradation is limited by the elevation of maximum flood stage (local base level). Differential tectonism and geomorphology control the slope of the flood basin floor and the direction of landscape evolution. These processes produce parasequences that include inclined stratal surfaces and oriented, stacked macroforms (clinoforms) that show the magnitude and direction of landscape evolution. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Year 2001
Title Geomorphology, facies architecture, and high-resolution, non-marine sequence stratigraphy in avulsion deposits, Cumberland Marshes, Saskatchewan
DOI 10.1016/S0037-0738(00)00150-0
Authors K.M. Farrell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Sedimentary Geology
Index ID 70023591
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse