The White Rim Sandstone Member of the Cutler Formation of Permian age in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, was deposited in coastal eolian and associated interdune environments. This conclusion is based on stratigraphic relationships primary sedimentary structures, and petrologic features. The White Rim consists of two major genetic units. The first represents a coastal dune field and the second represents related interdune ponds. Distinctive sedimentary structures of the coastal dune unit include large- to medium-scale, unidirectional, tabular-planar cross-bedding; high-index ripples oriented parallel to dip direction of the foresets; coarse-grained lag layers; avalanche or slump marks; and raindrop impressions. Cross-bedding measurements suggest the dunes were deposited as transverse ridges by a dominantly northwest to southeast wind. Distinctive sedimentary structures of the interdune pond unit include wavy, horizontally laminated bedding, adhesion ripples, and desiccation polygons. These features may have been produced by alternate wetting and drying of sediment during water-table fluctuations. Evidence of bioturbation is also present in this unit.
Petrologic characteristics of the White Rim helped to define the depositional environment as coastal. A crinoid fragment was identified at one location; both units are enriched in heavy minerals, and small amounts of well rounded, reworked glauconite were found in the White Rim throughout the study area. Earlier work indicates that the White Rim sandstone is late Wolfcampian to early Leonardian in age. During this time, the Canyonlands area was located in a depositional area alternately dominated by marine and nonmarine environments. Results of this study suggest the White Rim represents a coastal dune field that was deposited by predominantly on-shore winds during a period of marine transgression.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
The depositional environment and petrology of the White Rim Sandstone Member of the Permian Cutler Formation, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
U.S. Geological Survey,
iii, 85 p., 3 over-size sheets, ill., maps ;29 cm.