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Spatial distribution and variability of lobe facies in a large sand-rich submarine fan system: Neoproterozoic Zerrissene Group, Namibia

August 9, 2023

The deposits of the upper Neoproterozoic Zerrissene Group of central-western Namibia represent a large siliciclastic deep-water depositional system that showcases the intricacies of facies and architectural relationships from bed-scale to fan-system-scale. The lack of vegetation in the Namib Desert and regular east–west repetition of folded stratigraphy (reflecting ca 50% tectonic shortening) provides quasi-three-dimensional exposure over a current area of approximately 2700 square kilometres. The Brak River Formation, the middle sand-rich unit of the Zerrissene Group, consists of nearly 600 m of strata exposed in multiple parallel continuous outcrops up to ca 10 km in length and oriented obliquely to depositional dip. Ten stratigraphic sections are correlated ca 32 km (ca 64 km restored) across the basin and offer exposure comparable in scale to modern submarine fans. Six sedimentary facies are identified and grouped into four facies associations that represent axial-to-marginal portions of deep-water lobes in an unconfined submarine fan system. Spatial facies patterns, regional thickness variations, and palaeocurrents indicate that Brak River Formation sediments were transported primarily from the north to south–south-west through a trough-like basin, and deposited within an unconfined basin plain at the junction of the Adamastor and Khomas oceans. The unique outcrop exposure and extent permits the documentation of system-scale architecture and basin configuration of the Brak River submarine fan system. A transition from the sand-rich lower Brak River Formation to more intercalated mudstone-dominated intervals in the middle and upper Brak River Formation is interpreted to record a change from aggradational to compensational stacking of lobe deposits. This records the evolution of a large submarine fan as it filled the subtle seafloor topography and became less confined at the system-scale. The documentation of these deep-water deposits from centimetre-scale to basin-scale provides a new model for a system with extensive long-distance transport of sand-rich sediment gravity flows to submarine lobes without apparent channelization.

Publication Year 2024
Title Spatial distribution and variability of lobe facies in a large sand-rich submarine fan system: Neoproterozoic Zerrissene Group, Namibia
DOI 10.1111/sed.13129
Authors Nora Maria Nieminski, Tim McHargue, Jared T. Gooley, Andrea Fildani, Donald R Lowe
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Sedimentology
Index ID 70249804
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center