The Upper Devonian Kanayut Conglomerate crops out along the crest of the Brooks Range of northern Alaska for a distance of almost 1000 km. It ranges in thickness from 2600 m in the Atigun River area to 700 m south of Anaktuvuk Pass and has been subdivided into four regionally persistent members: (a) the basal sandstone member, consisting of marine sandstone and shale with some conglomerate; (b) the lower shale member, consisting of nonmarine quartzite, conglomerate and shale; (c) the middle conglomerate member, consisting of nonmarine pebble and cobble conglomerate and quartzite; and (d) the Stuver Member, consisting of nonmarine sandstone and shale. The Kanayut conformably overlies the Upper Devonian marine Hunt Fork Shale and is conformably overlain by the Mississippian marine Kayak Shale. The Kanayut is wholly allochthonous and has probably been transported northward on a series of thrust plates.
The basal sandstone member of the Kanayut Conglomerate, which overlies prodelta turbidites of the Hunt Fork Shale, contains marginal-marine coarsening-upward channel-mouth bar sequences. It is conformably overlain by the lower shale member.
Measured sections of the nonmarine members of the Kanayut show that the lower shale member ranges in thickness from 120 m to 1115 m and consists of fining-upward cycles interpreted to have been deposited by meandering streams on a broad floodplain. These cycles contain, in ascending order, channelized basal conglomerate, trough cross-stratified sandstone, and ripple-marked siltstone. The cycles are interpreted to be channel and point-bar deposits. Individual cycles average about 10 m in thickness and are separated by intervals of black, brown or maroon floodplain shale deposits. These typically contain thin coarsening-upward units that probably represent prograding levee sequences and irregular and ungraded sandstone bodies interpreted to be crevasse-splay deposits. In the Okokmilaga River area, the lower shale member contains a distinctive coarse-grained unit which is burrowed and interpreted to represent a widespread marine incursion.
The middle conglomerate member, which ranges in thickness from 155 m to 525 m, consists of braidplain deposits. It contains fining-upward couplets of conglomerate and parallel-stratified or cross-stratified sandstone that average 2-7 m in thickness. The couplets record deposition in channels and on bars of braided streams. The middle conglomerate member contains the largest clasts, little or no shale, and represents the maximum progradation of nonmarine sedimentation in the Kanayut depositional system.
The Stuver Member consists of fining-upward cycles that resemble those of the lower shale member. It ranges in thickness from 160 m to 1400 m and grades upward into tidal and marginal-marine deposits of the Kayak Shale.
Conglomerate in the Kanayut is compositionally very mature, averaging 82 percent white, gray, black or red chert clasts, 14 percent vein quartz clasts, 3 percent quartzite clasts, and less than I percent other lithologies, mainly argillite. Although red chert is locally abundant in the Shainin Lake-Galbraith Lake area, there is little variation in conglomerate composition in the Kanayut, suggesting derivation from a single major source terrane.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Kanayut Conglomerate, central Brooks Range, Alaska; report of 1980 field season