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Synthesis of late Paleozoic and Mesozoic eolian deposits of the Western Interior of the United States

Sedimentary Geology

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Abstract

Late Paleozoic and Mesozoic eolian deposits include rock units that were deposited in ergs (eolian sand seas), erg margins and dune fields. They form an important part of Middle Pennsylvanian through Upper Jurassic sedimentary rocks across the Western Interior of the United States. These sedimentary rock units comprise approximately three dozen major eolian-bearing sequences and several smaller ones. Isopach and facies maps and accompanying cross sections indicate that most eolian units display varied geometry and complex facies relations to adjacent non-eolian rocks. Paleozoic erg deposits are widespread from Montana to Arizona and include Pennsylvanian formations (Weber, Tensleep, Casper and Quadrant Sandstones) chiefly in the Northern and Central Rocky Mountains with some deposits (Hermosa and Supai Groups) on the Colorado Plateau. Lower Permian (Wolfcampian) erg deposits (Weber, Tensleep, Casper, Minnelusa, Ingleside, Cedar Mesa, Elephant Canyon, Queantoweap and Esplanade Formations) are more widespread and thicken into the central Colorado Plateau. Middle Permian (Leonardian I) erg deposits (De Chelly and Schnebly Hill Formations) are distributed across the southern Colorado Plateau on the north edge of the Holbrook basin. Leonardian II erg deposits (Coconino and Glorieta Sandstones) are slightly more widespread on the southern Colorado Plateau. Leonardian III erg deposits formed adjacent to the Toroweap-Kaibab sea in Utah and Arizona (Coconino and White Rim Sandstones) and in north-central Colorado (Lyons Sandstone). Recognized Triassic eolian deposits include major erg deposits in the Jelm Formation of central Colorado-Wyoming and smaller eolian deposits in the Rock Point Member of the Wingate Sandstone and upper Dolores Formation, both of the Four Corners region. None of these have as yet received a modern or thorough study. Jurassic deposits of eolian origin extend from the Black Hills to the southern Cordilleran arc terrain. Lower Jurassic intervals include the Jurassic part of the Wingate Sandstone and the Navajo-Aztec-Nugget complex and coeval deposits in the arc terrain to the south and west of the Colorado Plateau. Major Middle Jurassic deposits include the Page Sandstone on the Colorado Plateau and the widespread Entrada Sandstone, Sundance Formation, and coeval deposits. Less extensive eolian deposits occur in the Carmel Formation, Temple Cap Sandstone, Romana Sandstone and Moab Tongue of the Entrada Sandstone, mostly on the central and western Colorado Plateau. Upper Jurassic eolian deposits include the Bluff Sandstone Member and Recapture Member of the Morrison Formation and Junction Creek Sandstone, all of the Four Corners region, and smaller eolian deposits in the Morrison Formation of central Wyoming and apparently coeval Unkpapa Sandstone of the Black Hills. Late Paleozoic and Mesozoic eolian deposits responded to changing climatic, tectonic and eustatic controls that are documented elsewhere in this volume. All of the eolian deposits are intricately interbedded with non-eolian deposits, including units of fluvial, lacustrine and shallow-marine origin, clearly dispelling the myth that eolian sandstones are simple sheet-like bodies. Rather, these units form some of the most complex bodies in the stratigraphic record. ?? 1988.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Synthesis of late Paleozoic and Mesozoic eolian deposits of the Western Interior of the United States
Series title:
Sedimentary Geology
Volume
56
Issue:
1-4
Year Published:
1988
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Sedimentary Geology
First page:
3
Last page:
125
Number of Pages:
123