William E. Galloway, 1985. "Ancient Alluvial Fans and Fan Deltas", Recognition of Fluvial Depositional Systems and their Resource Potential, Romeo M. Flores, Frank G. Ethridge, Andrew D. Miall, William E. Galloway, Thomas D. Fouch
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Although much has been learned about modern alluvial-fan and fluvial systems, the step from active systems to their ancient geologic counterparts is a big one. The following notes attempt, by means of selected examples, to illustrate the facies characteristics of a broad spectrum of fluvial and fan deposits.
Alluvial fans are primarily geomorphic features most readily distinguished by their conical, lobate, or arcuate morphology. As morphology is not readily reconstructed in the stratigraphic record, indirect criteria are necessary. In addition to morphology, alluvial fans display several features suggestive of their origin (Fig. G-1):
Radial or arcuate sediment dispersal pattern reflecting the point source. Note sand distribution on Kern fan (Fig. G-1).
Highly compressed down-flow textural and compositional gradients. The Kern fan grades from dominantly gravel to less than 50 percent sand along a transverse section.
A uniquely predictable ground-water flow system that may produce distinctive geochemical facies or alteration patterns.
Well-defined areal relationships with structura! features or known uplands.
Distinctive associations with bounding facies, such as lacustrine depos-its or major through-flowing trunk stream sequences.
Fan deltas are special situations in which alluvial fans build directly into a standing body of water. Although it might be argued that only small features qualify as true fan deltas, the juxtaposition of marine deposits with coarse fan-like sediments is worthy of note, and the term “fan delta” has been widely applied (see Ethridge, this volume).
Pennsylvanian strata now exposed in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains record deposition of a
Figures & Tables
The understanding of fluvial environments and processes that operate within them as well as their products in the geological record is a recent development. During the past decade, facies analysis of fluvial rocks has been increasingly used to explore for and develop hydrocarbons, coal, uranium and metallic minerals. The rapid growth in the database on fluvial depositional systems coupled with the need to recognize the economic potential of their deposits has yielded numerous resources which deal with recognition and classification of the whole spectrum of fluvial systems, fluvial processes and their products, facies models of ancient fluvial deposits, and application of fluvial models to resource exploration and development. This notebook is an outgrowth of the burgeoning geological investigations of fluvial rocks and their associated potential. The notebook is divided into 11 chapters the cover methodology and classification of fluvial systems as well as modern and ancient deposits of alluvial fans, fan deltas, braided systems, meandering streams and anastomosed streams. In addition, application of facies modeling to exploration and development of hydrocarbons, coal and uranium is discussed for the Rocky Mountain region, Mid Continent, Gulf Coast and western China.