Abstract

The topset compartments of two Maastrichtian basin-scale clinothems are characterized, with focus on the function they played in constructing the Lance–Fox Hills–Lewis shelf-margin sedimentary prism in the Laramide Washakie Basin, south Wyoming. Approximately 1000 well logs were used to map the delta lobes and complexes on the Fox Hills shelf and to detail their depositional character, dimensions, and orientation as they autogenically shifted during transit from an inner-shelf to shelf-edge position. The regressive transits of the deltas initiated up to 40 km (25 mi) landward from the preexisting shelf-edge and preserved river and wave-dominated deltaic deposits that thicken and concentrate sand on the outer shelf. Tidally influenced deltas (now outcropping) also occur in localized areas along the paleoshelf edge, probably where wave influence was reduced along invaginated coastal segments. Net sandstone maps of the individual clinothem topsets show that (1) coeval delta lobes exist within each clinothem, suggesting multiple rivers; (2) delta lobes have a likely autogenic compensational stacking pattern; and (3) deltas thicken and storm-wave influence become dominant closer to the shelf edge.

Our results support the ideas of (1) predictable increased wave influence and (2) change to strike-elongate architecture as deltas transit the shelf. In addition, along-strike changes in process dominance cause deltaic reservoirs to be highly variable in their orientation, external shape, and internal character. Some process changes are interpreted to be autogenic responses during overall shoreline progradation. The study also provides new data on delta-lobe and delta-complex thicknesses as well as on deltaic coastline versus shelf-edge progradation rates.

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