Seismic analysis of clinoform depositional sequences and shelf-margin trajectories in Lower Cretaceous (Albian) strata, Alaska North Slope

Basin Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Lower Cretaceous strata beneath the Alaska North Slope include clinoform depositional sequences that filled the western Colville foreland basin and overstepped the Beaufort rift shoulder. Analysis of Albian clinoform sequences with two‐dimensional (2D) seismic data resulted in the recognition of seismic facies inferred to represent lowstand, transgressive and highstand systems tracts. These are stacked to produce shelf‐margin trajectories that appear in low‐resolution seismic data to alternate between aggradational and progradational. Higher‐resolution seismic data reveal shelf‐margin trajectories that are more complex, particularly in net‐aggradational areas, where three patterns commonly are observed: (1) a negative (downward) step across the sequence boundary followed by mostly aggradation in the lowstand systems tract (LST), (2) a positive (upward) step across the sequence boundary followed by mostly progradation in the LST and (3) an upward backstep across a mass‐failure décollement. These different shelf‐margin trajectories are interpreted as (1) fall of relative sea level below the shelf edge, (2) fall of relative sea level to above the shelf edge and (3) mass‐failure removal of shelf‐margin sediment. Lowstand shelf margins mapped using these criteria are oriented north–south in the foreland basin, indicating longitudinal filling from west to east. The shelf margins turn westward in the north, where the clinoform depositional system overstepped the rift shoulder, and turn eastward in the south, suggesting progradation of depositional systems from the ancestral Brooks Range into the foredeep. Lowstand shelf‐margin orientations are consistently perpendicular to clinoform‐foreset‐dip directions. Although the Albian clinoform sequences of the Alaska North Slope are generally similar in stratal geometry to clinoform sequences elsewhere, they are significantly thicker. Clinoform‐sequence thickness ranges from 600–1000 m in the north to 1700–2000 m in the south, reflecting increased accommodation from the rift shoulder into the foredeep. The unusually thick clinoform sequences suggest significant subsidence followed by rapid sediment influx.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seismic analysis of clinoform depositional sequences and shelf-margin trajectories in Lower Cretaceous (Albian) strata, Alaska North Slope
Series title Basin Research
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2117.2008.00392.x
Volume 21
Issue 5
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 644
Last page 654