Lagoonal deposits in the Upper Cretaceous Rock Springs Formation (Mesaverde Group), southwest Wyoming

Marine Geology



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Most paleogeographic reconstructions of the Rock Springs Formation show shorelines having lobate to arcuate deltas. These shorelines are oriented NE-SW, with the sea to the southeast. Brackish-water bodies are usually shown in interdistributary areas or associated with abandoned delta lobes, and are open to the sea. In this study, a sedimentary sequence 30-50 m thick is interpreted as interdeltaic deposits. Brackish-water deposits within the sequence are interpreted as interdeltaic lagoons rather than interdistributary bays. Three facies associations (units) are recognized in nine measured sections of the study interval. Unit A consists of interbedded sandstone, mudrock and coal which occur in both fining- and coarsening-upward sequences less than 10 m thick. Fining-upward sequences decrease in thickness and frequency upwards in unit A and are interpreted as distributary channels. Coarsening-upward sequences associated with the channels are interpreted as crevasse splays that filled lakes or interdistributary bays. In the upper part of the unit where only minor channels are present, the coarsening-upward sequences are interpreted as bay deltas. Unit B consists of fossiliferous silty shale and bioturbated sandy siltstone. A low-diversity fauna of bivalves, gastropods, ostracods and foraminifers indicates that brackish-water conditions existed. Unit B intertongues with unit A to the northwest and with unit C to the southeast, and is interpreted as lagoonal deposits. Unit C consists of crossbedded and burrowed sandstone in beds 0.5-9 m thick. Sandstones are laterally continuous in the southeast but become tabular bodies enclosed within unit B to the northwest. Laterally continuous sandstones are interpreted as shoreface deposits on the basis of multidirectional crossbeds, marine trace fossils and continuity. Tabular sandstones are interpreted as flood-tidal deltas on the basis of NW-oriented crossbeds, pinchouts to the northwest and enclosure within unit B. Scoured surfaces and rip-up clasts within unit C indicate the presence of tidal channels or inlets. Interpreting unit B as an interdeltaic lagoon rather than an interdistributary bay is dependent on understanding its enclosing strata. The distributary channels of unit A supplied the majority of the sediment in the lower part of the sequence. However, after the lagoon formed, tidal channels and inlets of unit C supplied more sediment to the area than channels of unit A. The shift in sedimentation from a landward to a seaward source reflects the change from a delta plain to an interdeltaic lagoon following abandonment of distributary channels. ?? 1989.

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Lagoonal deposits in the Upper Cretaceous Rock Springs Formation (Mesaverde Group), southwest Wyoming
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Marine Geology
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Marine Geology
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