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Coal and clastic facies investigations of a Paleocene coal-bearing succession in the Grass Creek coal mine, southwestern Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA, suggest that disruption of peat accumulation in recurrent mires was caused by the repetitive progradation of crevasse splays and, ultimately, by a catastrophic mass movement. The mass movement, represented by deposits of debris flow, marked the termination of significant peat accumulation in the Grass Creek coal mine area. Megascopic and microscopic analyses of coal beds exposed along the mine highwalls suggest that these deposits developed in low-lying mires, as evidenced primarily by their ash yields and maceral composition. Disruption of peat accumulation in successive mires was caused by incursions of sediment into the mire environments. Termination by crevasse splay progradation is represented by coarsening-upward successions of mudrock and tabular, rooted sandstone, which overlie coal beds in the lower part of the coal-bearing interval. A more rapid process of mire termination by mass movement is exemplified by a debris flow deposit of diamictite, which overlies the uppermost coal bed at the top of the coal-bearing interval. The diamictite consists of a poorly sorted, unstratified mixture of quartzite cobbles and pebbles embedded in a claystone-rich or sandy mudstone matrix. Deposition of the diamictite may have taken place over a matter of weeks, days, or perhaps even hours, by catastrophic flood, thus reflecting an instantaneous process of mire termination. Coarse clastics and mud were transported from the southwest some 20-40 km as a viscous debris flow along stream courses from the ancestral Washakie Range to the Grass Creek area, where the flow overrode a low-lying mire and effectively terminated peat accumulation. ?? 1994.
Additional Publication Details
A debris flow deposit in alluvial, coal-bearing facies, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA: Evidence for catastrophic termination of a mire