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Abstract

Multiple models have been proposed to account for the origin of channel and out-of-channel deposits in the Cerro Toro Formation at the Silla Syncline. The complex stratigraphic relationship between coarse-grained channel, and fine-grained out-of-channel deposits has been a topic of considerable debate in the scientific literature. Winn and Dott (1979), Beaubouef et al. (1996), and Beaubouef (2004) propose aggradational channel-levee models for the channel complexes present in the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Fig. iv.1A, B). Conversely, Coleman (2000), Crane (2004), and Crane and Lowe (2008) have proposed variations on an evolutionary model that invokes erosional confinement of channel sediments in background Cerro Toro Formation mudstone (Fig. iv.1C, D). The high-energy axial portion of the best-exposed and most well studied channel complex (Paine C of Crane et al., 2008) is a minimum of 4 km wide and the Silla Syncline provides only an oblique cross-section through the complex (Fig. iv.1D). If the system is levee confined, the coeval levees must have added substantially to the cross-sectional width of the channel complex; post-depositional structures both east and west of the syncline limit the preserved width to only slightly more than the channel axis in most areas. As a result it is difficult to discern whether the erosional margins preserved in outcrop represent the edges of an incisional channel complex, or the eroded inner margins of extensive levees.

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