The direction of sediment transport in eolian sandstones of Pennsylvanian to Jurassic age was interpreted from crossbedding resultants (vector means) obtained from studies of eolian rocks in the western U.S., supplemented by data from the few eolian units of eastern North America. These were compiled from the published or unpublished (theses) literature, from unpublished field data contributed by colleagues, or from measurements made for this study. In addition, new paleogeographic maps were compiled to evaluate the influence of geographic features on the atmospheric circulation patterns that are inferred from the crossbedding studies. Regionally, the crossbedding indicates northeasterly, northerly, or northwesterly winds (present coordinates) from Pennsylvanian through most of Middle Jurassic time. A rather abrupt change in wind directions occurred in late Middle Jurassic time (late part of the Callovian Age) when westerly wind patterns developed. By the Late Jurassic the winds shifted to southwesterly. Calculations of the consistency factor (vector mean strength) made from region-wide analyses of the resultants indicate fairly unidirectional winds from the Pennsylvanian through the Early Jurassic. Middle Jurassic circulation was more varied, judging from crossbedding studies in the lower part of the Entrada Sandstone. Crossbedding in Upper Jurassic eolian rocks of Wyoming and South Dakota yielded a random pattern but Upper Jurassic rocks farther south on the Colorado Plateau and adjoining areas show a return to a fairly unidirectional pattern. Comparing the resultants with their reconstructed paleogeographic setting shows surprisingly little influence of major geographic features on overall circulation patterns. However, the greatest amount of local variation occurred at or near highly indented shorelines where the temperature contrast between land and water produces local wind currents that may vary appreciably from regional circulation patterns. Although they do not cause noticeable horizontal deflections in wind patterns, small and low topographic highs appear to be able to promote the development of a dune field if a source of sand is available and if streams do not enter the growing dune field. ?? 1988.
Additional publication details
Pennsylvanian to Jurassic eolian transportation systems in the western United States