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Introduction

Overview

Welcome to Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin, home of White Sands, Stealth Fighters, Billy the Kid, and the first Atomic Bomb explosion!!! The Sacramento Mountains include approximately 8,000' of Paleozoic strata from Cambrian to Permian age and many spectacular exposures, providing an excellent field laboratory for geologists. We will spend the day examining outcrops of the Pennsylvanian Holder Formation in Dry Canyon, just north of Alamogordo, NM (Figures 1 and 2). These outcrops will help illustrate many fundamental stratigraphic concepts, including:

  • Sequence development during periods of global icehouse climates

  • Cyclic-reciprocal sedimentation of carbonates and siiiciciastics

  • Effects of depositions! topography on stratigraphic architecture

  • Recognition and importance of subaerial exposure features

  • Evidence for relative changes in sea level

Figure 1.

Pennsylvanian stratigraphic column and regional isopach map, southern New Mexico. Modified from Pray (1961) and Algeo et al. (1991). The narrow Pedernal shelf on which the Holder Formation was deposited was bounded to the west by a basin (the Orogrande Basin), to the east by an uplifted, basement-cored block (the Pedernal uplift).

Figure 1.

Pennsylvanian stratigraphic column and regional isopach map, southern New Mexico. Modified from Pray (1961) and Algeo et al. (1991). The narrow Pedernal shelf on which the Holder Formation was deposited was bounded to the west by a basin (the Orogrande Basin), to the east by an uplifted, basement-cored block (the Pedernal uplift).

Figure 2.

Topographic map of the Dry Canyon and Beeman Canyon stuty areas. The position of Stops 1-3 are indicated, as are the locations of EMURC (formerly EPR) measured section and research cores (EPR DC #1-3). Position of phylloid algal mounds from Wilson (1967).

Figure 2.

Topographic map of the Dry Canyon and Beeman Canyon stuty areas. The position of Stops 1-3 are indicated, as are the locations of EMURC (formerly EPR) measured section and research cores (EPR DC #1-3). Position of phylloid algal mounds from Wilson (1967).

These outcrops wifl illustrate depositional relationships and sedimentary processes along a relatively undeformed, dip-trending transect. The outcrops allow the physical tracing of high-frequency sequence boundaries (chronostratlgraphic surfaces) and illustrate changes in the lithofacies bound by these surfaces at scales unavailable in subsurface hydrocarbon fields. Using these Pennsylvanian outcrops as an analog for subsurface fields provides a better understanding of lateral and vertical facies distribution and can assist in subsurface reservoir prediction and characterization. These outcrop observations are supplemented by data from three ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company cores, unavailable for viewing on this trip due to time constraints. This field guide is a condensed version of Bachtel et al. (1998). Figures and text in this field guide were also published in Rankey et al. (1999).

This study expands on the exceptional framework and ideas of previous workers, including J.L, Wilson, L. Pray, R.H. Goldstein, and their co-workers and students {e.g. Pray 1959, 1961; Wilson 1967,1972,1975; Winchester 1976; Toomey et al. 1977a, b; Dunning 1978; Goldstein 1988a, b, 1991; see also Oppel 1957; Reyer 1958). Wilson (Wilson 1967, 1972, 1975) recognized the cyclicity of the Holder Formation and refined the classic concept of cyclic-reciprocal sedimentation from observations of these strata. These concepts defined much of the conceptual framework for modern sequence stratigraphy. Many of our interpretations parallel those made by Wilson, Goldstein (Goldstein 1988a, b, 1991; Goldstein et al. 1993) built on Wilson's framework and focused on early diagenesis and the character of subaerial exposure surfaces capping Wilson's cycles. These surfaces are central to our sequence stratigraphic correlations. Our study utilizes the insights from these previous studies and builds upon the earlier work by interpreting the entire Holder interval in a sequence stratigraphic framework. The observations and interpretations of these excellent studies added significantly to our work.

Concepts derived from the Holder Formation can serve as a well constrained analog for many Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian basins worldwide, including; Midcontinent USA (e.g. Hugoton Basin), Permian Basin (e.g. Eastern Shelf), Paradox Basin (e.g. Aneth field), and the Carboniferous of the Pricaspian of the former Soviet Union. We hope that the experiences of the participants on this trip in these and other areas will add to group discussions and further our understanding of Pennsylvanian sequences worldwide.

Structure of the Guidebook

The first section of this paper provides an overview of the geologic setting of the Holder Formation. The second part describes our observations and interpretations of the sequence stratigraphy of the Holder Formation. The third part of the paper includes brief overviews of the field trip stops, measured sections, and photo pans. The third part of the guidebook also includes a number of questions that will be useful to consider as we examine the outcrops. These questions also provide opportunities to evaluate potential exploration or exploitation strategies for the search of similar subsurface reservoirs. More information and photographs of subaerial exposure features in carbonate strata are provided in Rankey and Bachtel (1998), The recognition of these features is important to the definition of high-frequency sequence boundaries in these strata.

Geologic Setting - Holder Formation

Stratigraphic and Tectonic Setting

The Holder Formation (Pennsylvanian, Virgilian) (Figure 3) consists of marine siliciclastics, marine carbonates, and alluvial sillciclastics arranged into generally shoaling-upward successions {Thompson 1942; Cline 1959; Pray 1959; Wilson 1967, 1975; Goldstein 1988; Carr and Scott 1990), Marine siliciclastics include calcareous, fossiliferous claystone to siltstone and sandstone. Marine carbonates are peioidal-skeletal and oolitic wackestone, packstone, grainstone and phylloid algal boundstone (Wiison 1967; Wray 1977; Toomey et al. 1977a, b; Goldstein 1988; Toomey 1991). The thick phylloid algal mounds form massive cliffs in the Dry and Beeman Canyon areas (Figure 2), the focus of this study. Alluvial siliciclastics include pedogenically-altered claystone to siltstone and lenticular sandstone and conglomerate.

Figure 3.

Stratigraphic setting and sequence stratigraphic terminology of Holder Formation, Sacramento Mountains, New Maxico. The upper four high-frequency were described only in the La Luz section. Comparison to previous workers' correlation schemes are indicaded. Note that Wilson's informal bed designation (e.g subAR, ED-2) are not necessarily coincident with our high-frequency sequency, due to either different correlations or pinchout of the beds. Because of this, we describe how his beds fit in our nomenclatural scheme in two different Shelf positions.

Figure 3.

Stratigraphic setting and sequence stratigraphic terminology of Holder Formation, Sacramento Mountains, New Maxico. The upper four high-frequency were described only in the La Luz section. Comparison to previous workers' correlation schemes are indicaded. Note that Wilson's informal bed designation (e.g subAR, ED-2) are not necessarily coincident with our high-frequency sequency, due to either different correlations or pinchout of the beds. Because of this, we describe how his beds fit in our nomenclatural scheme in two different Shelf positions.

One distinguishing characteristic of Pennsylvanian facies is their generally cyclic character. Udden (1912), Welter (1931), Wanless and Shepard (1936), and Moore (1936) were among the early workers who described and interpreted these cyclic successions. Subsequent work has illustrated that similar cyclicity can be recognized globally (e.g. Ross and Ross 1988). In general, marine 'cyclothems' are characterized by marine shallowing-upward trends that commonly culminate with subaerial exposure or non-marine deposits. On this trip, we will not utilize the lithostratigraphically based concept of 'cyclothems,' but rather we will define and utilize chronostratigraphically significant high-frequency sequences.

Wilson (1967) described the high-frequency sequences of the Sacramento Mountains that we will observe (Figure 4a). These successions are somewhat different from the classic midccntinent 'cyclothems' documented by workers including Moore {1936, 1964), Heckei (1977, 1980, 1986), and Watney et ai. (1989). The midcontinent 'cyclothems' (Figure 4b) are commonly more symmetric, with transgressive deposits culminating in a maximum flooding black shale. Above the black shale, the carbonate strata reflect a gradual shoaling and are capped by a surface of subaerial exposure. On this trip, we want to recognize cyclic patterns of sedimentation, how they change through time and space, and how they relate to the high-frequency sequences and composite sequences.

Figure 4.

Previous described idealized Pennsylvanian cycles. a) Idealized shelf cycles from the Holder Formation (Wilson 1967, 1975). Wilson interpreted the grey marine shales and nodular carbonates to represent similar water depths, but that the carbonates represent a ‘clear water’ phase. He also interpreted a ‘turnaround’ in sea level reflected by the change from nodular carbonate to the overlying massive carbonate. b) Idealized cycles of the Missourian of the Midcontinent (Heckel 1989) and sequences Stratigraphic interpretation (Bissnett and Heckel 1996). In this interpretation, the ‘middle limestone’ represents transgressive deposits. The ‘core shale’ is interpreted as maximum flooding and subsequent facies represent a repaid relative fall in sea level. Porous, grainy ‘upper limestones’ comprise reservoirs in this strata.

Figure 4.

Previous described idealized Pennsylvanian cycles. a) Idealized shelf cycles from the Holder Formation (Wilson 1967, 1975). Wilson interpreted the grey marine shales and nodular carbonates to represent similar water depths, but that the carbonates represent a ‘clear water’ phase. He also interpreted a ‘turnaround’ in sea level reflected by the change from nodular carbonate to the overlying massive carbonate. b) Idealized cycles of the Missourian of the Midcontinent (Heckel 1989) and sequences Stratigraphic interpretation (Bissnett and Heckel 1996). In this interpretation, the ‘middle limestone’ represents transgressive deposits. The ‘core shale’ is interpreted as maximum flooding and subsequent facies represent a repaid relative fall in sea level. Porous, grainy ‘upper limestones’ comprise reservoirs in this strata.

We use subaerial exposure surfaces developed on subtidal facies ('abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces') to define high-frequency sequence boundaries. These surfaces represent an objective means to identify a relative fall in sea level. Many previous studies have focused on flooding units as correlation guides to define genetic units (e.g. Moore 1936; Heckei 1977; Brown et al. 1990; Watney et al. 1989, 1996), in part because they are readily discernabie on gamma ray logs.

The Holder Formations was deposited on a narrow shelf just west of the Pedernal uplift, part of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains tectonic province (Cline 1959; Pray 1959; Wilson 1967, 1975; Goldstein 1988). The Pedernal uplift was a high-angle fault-bounded basement block active in the late Pennsylvanian - early Permian and was bordered to the west by the downdropped Orogrande basin {Pray 1959; Otte 1959; Meyer 1966; Wilson 1967; Kluth 1986; Soreghan 1994). The present day Sacramento Mountains are roughly equivalent in position to the Pennsylvanian-aged Perdenal Uplift (only several kilometers east of the study area), although most of the current relief is caused by Miocene-Recent structural movements. The proximal source area provided large volumes of coarse siliciclastio material to the Pedernal Shelf. Syndepositionai deformation during the Pennsylvanian-Permian is indicated by depositional thinning and factes changes across the La Luz anticline, an angular relationship between the Holder and overlying Laborcita Formation (Virgilian), and by an angular unconformity between the Laborcita and the Abo Formation (Wolfcampian) (Otte 1959, Pray 1959; Wilson 1967, 1972; Delgado 1977).

Relative Changes in Sea Level

Since the work of Udden (1912), late Paleozoic stratigraphic cyclicity has been recognized globally {Weller 1931; Wanless and Shepard 1936; Moore 1936; Wells 1960; Duff and Walton 1962; Read 1969; Doveton 1971; Ramsbottom 1977; Ross and Ross 1988). In many cases, thin repetitive stratigraphic units (commonly called 'cycfothems') can be correlated across several 100s of kilometers, and even globally (Figure 5). The widespread geographic distribution of these “cyclothems,” coupled with the evidence for continental glaciation of this age (Crowell 1978; Frakes 1979; Veevers and Powell 1987) has led many workers to suggest a directcause and effect relation between glaciation and stratigraphic cyclicity (for example, Waniess and Shepard 1936; Wilson 1967; Heckel 1977, 1986; Watney 1980; Goldhammer and Elmore 1984; Boardman and Heckel 1989; Watney et a!. 1989; Johnson et al. 1993; Soreghan 1994). In terms of relative changes in sea level, these “icehouse systems” are characterized by high-frequency, high-amplitude eustatic changes in sea level (Figure 5b) driven by glacial advances and retreats, similar to those documented as occurring during the Pleistocene.

Figure 5.

a) Upper Carboniferous eustatic curve and midontinent lithostratigraphic correlatives (Ross and Ross, 1988). Note the inferred high amplitudes of relative change in sea level. b) Scmetic diagram indicating contrasts in the magnitute of relative change in sea level in global greenhouse and icehouse climatic setting. The high ampliudes of change in icehouse settings have a significant influence on stratigraphic architecture and the presence/absence of subaerial exposure features (from Tucker et al. 1993).

Figure 5.

a) Upper Carboniferous eustatic curve and midontinent lithostratigraphic correlatives (Ross and Ross, 1988). Note the inferred high amplitudes of relative change in sea level. b) Scmetic diagram indicating contrasts in the magnitute of relative change in sea level in global greenhouse and icehouse climatic setting. The high ampliudes of change in icehouse settings have a significant influence on stratigraphic architecture and the presence/absence of subaerial exposure features (from Tucker et al. 1993).

Relative changes in sea level also had a significant influence on the distribution of early diagenetic features (Goldstein 1988,1991). Many Pennsyivanian reservoir systems are significantly influenced by meteoric diagenetic cements or dissolution controlled by the high amplitude relative changes In sea level (Watney 1980, Mazzullo 1985; Ebanks and Watney 1985; Watney et al. 1989, 1996; Weber, Sarg, and Wright 1995; Grammer et al. 1996; Salier, Dickson, and Matsuda 1999). Soreghan and others (2000, in press) also illustrate how relative changes in sea level effect the regional and stratigraphic distribution of dolomite,

Climatic Setting

The presence of eustatic change during the Pennsylvanian is supported by many studies, but the Pennsylvanian was also a period of tectonic and climatic activity. Current research is also demonstrating the Influence of links between relative changes in sea-levei and shifts in climate at a short {high-frequency sequence or 'cyclothem') temporal scale (Wanless and Shepard 1936; Cecil 1990; Johnson et al. 1993; Soreghan 1994; Heckel 1995; Rankey 1997). In particular, most workers suggest that at low paleolatitudes, relative highs of sea-level are associated with more humid conditions, whereas relative lows are characterized by more arid conditions. The study area was located near the equator during the Virgilian and Holder strata were deposited under these seasonally wet-dry climatic conditions (Wilson 1967; Winchester 1976; Goldstein 1988).

Based on the apparent similarities to the Quaternary sea level-climate system, these climate shifts have been related to giacial-interglacial transitions that occurred at relatively high frequency (100-500 ka?) (e.g. Wanless and Shepard 1936; Goldstein 1988; Goldhammer et al. 1990; Johnson et al. 1993; Soreghan 1994). In fact, the late Paleozoic has been called an 'icehouse' period because it was the last geologic period of significant continental glaciation before the present 'icehouse' period. Through its influence on global climate and sea level, the 'icehouse' signature significantly influenced the stratigraphic architecture of the Holder Formation, as we wili see on this trip.

Regional Pennsylvanian Facies Patterns

Several scales of lateral facies changes characterize Pennsylvanian cyclic strata. At a continental scale, the westward change from proximal foreland basin strata with common coals and fluvial deposits of the Appalachian Basin to the more carbonate-rich, marine influenced succession in Kansas reflects a gradual proximal-distal transition (Figure 6a). The character and distribution of Pennsylvanian strata varies again farther westward within the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, where uplifts and basins created pronounced and commonly abrupt lateral changes.

Figure 6.

a) Continent-scale proximal-distal transition, Midcontinent, U.S.A. Deposits change from fluvial-deltaic dominated facies in the east (near the Appalachians) to more marine carbonate dominated in more distal areas to the west (Midcontinent). Informal terminlogy (e.g. ‘core shale’) is as indicated. Modified from Heckel (1994). b) Lateral changes within individual high-frequency sequences, Atokan and Desmoinesion of Kansas. Facies and informal nomenclature (e.g. ‘core shale’, see Figure 12) are indicated in the key. Note the updip area with mixed corbonates and siliciclastics, the mid-shelf region of predominantly carbonates, and the downdip region with corbonates and siliciclastics. Subaerial exposure surfaces extend fairly far down the shelf profile, consistent with the interpretation of high-amplitude relative changes in sea level. These changes occur across a lateral distance of ~70km. From Youle et al.(1994).

Figure 6.

a) Continent-scale proximal-distal transition, Midcontinent, U.S.A. Deposits change from fluvial-deltaic dominated facies in the east (near the Appalachians) to more marine carbonate dominated in more distal areas to the west (Midcontinent). Informal terminlogy (e.g. ‘core shale’) is as indicated. Modified from Heckel (1994). b) Lateral changes within individual high-frequency sequences, Atokan and Desmoinesion of Kansas. Facies and informal nomenclature (e.g. ‘core shale’, see Figure 12) are indicated in the key. Note the updip area with mixed corbonates and siliciclastics, the mid-shelf region of predominantly carbonates, and the downdip region with corbonates and siliciclastics. Subaerial exposure surfaces extend fairly far down the shelf profile, consistent with the interpretation of high-amplitude relative changes in sea level. These changes occur across a lateral distance of ~70km. From Youle et al.(1994).

With the low depositional gradients in the midcontinent, lateral changes within individual cyclothems occur across wide distances and are generally not discernable in individual outcrops. In this situation, individual beds (especially flooding units such as black shales) extend across several hundreds to thousands of square kilometers. Wanless (1964), Brown (1972), Watney (1980), and Heckel (1977,1986), among others, have described lateral changes occurring across several tens to hundreds of kilometers (Figure 6b and Figure 7). These changes include shifts from a siliciclastic-dominated shelf to a carbonate-dominated shelf edge to a slliciclastic dominated basin.

Figure 7.

Lateral facies variations within other Pennsylvanian high-frequency sequences. Note that changes similar to those that occur across hundreds of kilometers in the other basins can be observed within only a few kilometers on the Pedernal shelf. On this trip, we will walk out these changes.

Figure 7.

Lateral facies variations within other Pennsylvanian high-frequency sequences. Note that changes similar to those that occur across hundreds of kilometers in the other basins can be observed within only a few kilometers on the Pedernal shelf. On this trip, we will walk out these changes.

The strata of the Holder Formation suggest similar lateral changes (described below), except that these changes occur across 1 - 5 kilometers and individual beds can be correlated by physicai tracing (Figure 7). The rapid lateral changes probably reflect a high depositional gradient on the Pedernal shelf. The ability to physically trace beds in the Sacramento Mountains thus provides a unique opportunity to detail chronostratigraphic relations between the paleogeomorphically distinct shelf regions.

Holder Formation Stratigraphy

This summary is taken from Rankey et al. (1999). As described above, our work represents an addition to the previous work of Wilson, Pray, Goldstein, and their students. Many of the observations and interpretations discussed here parallel those made by these workers.

Facies and Facies Associations

Holder strata are characterized by a diverse array of facies, summarized in Table 1 and illustrated in Figure 8. In general, most facies can be grouped into one of three facies associations: 1) Facies association A, 2) Facies association B, and 3) Facies association C.

Figure 8.

Facies-Marine and alluvial siliciclastics. A) Sandstone: planer to low-angle cross-bedded laminations grating up into ripple cross-laminitions, characteristic of warning flow conditions in sandstone beds. Sandstone beds interpreted as marine may also include hummocky cross-stratification and marine fossils. Hammer for scale. B) Claystone (recessive weathering) with marine carbonate (resistant weathering) interbedded at foot scale. Note that from right to left, several corbonate beds thin as interbedded shales thicken, suggesting progradation of the carbonate system across areas that were previously characterized by deposition of shale. Distance between arrows roughly 3 m. C) Fining-upward succession in sandstone interpreted as fluvial. Packages of similar fining-upwards successions commonly become thinner and finger-graned upwars. Pen for scale. D) Carbonate nodules (N) and prismatic structure (P) in interpreted paleosol. Pedogenic features not illustrated in the photo include rhizoliths, root tubules, subangular blocky structure, and pedogenic slickensides. Hammer for scale. E) Coarse conglomerate, interpreted as fluvial, that fills a channel form feature. Pencil in lower right corner for scale. F) Corase conglomerate filling in channel form that cuts into marine carbonate below. Hammer for scale. Facies-carbonates. G) Fusulinid-rich skeletal mud-lean packstone to grainstone. Phylloid algae, foraminifera, peloids, bryozoans, and small crinoids are also present. Long axis = 11 mm, H) Phylloid algal wackestone. Phylloids may occur in more muddy facies, as in this photo, or whitin more grainy, cement-rich facies. In the Holder Formation, very little depositional porosity remains due to early meteoric diagenesis (see Goldstein, 1988b, 1991). Long axis = 11 mm. I) Foraminiferarich, skeletal-peloid grainstone. Fossils also inclute an open marine fauna such as phylloids, brachiopods, fusulinids, bryozoans, and crinoids, as well as peloids and minor quartz silt. No evidence for peritidal deposition (mudcracks, fenestrae, microbial laminites, etc.) are present in this facies. Log axis = 11 mm. J) Skeletal wackestone. Grains include crinoids, minor quartz silt, bryozoans. Log axis = 2.65 mm. K) Shingles of ooid graintone. The thick, cross-bedded acretionary foresets pass laterally into more nodular and slightly argillaceous packstone. Photo from uppermost part of Beeman Formation (cf. Figure 9, section NDC 3, 8-23 feet height). Person for scale. L) Root tubules, rhizoliths, and laminated crusts on subaerisl exposure surface.

Figure 8.

Facies-Marine and alluvial siliciclastics. A) Sandstone: planer to low-angle cross-bedded laminations grating up into ripple cross-laminitions, characteristic of warning flow conditions in sandstone beds. Sandstone beds interpreted as marine may also include hummocky cross-stratification and marine fossils. Hammer for scale. B) Claystone (recessive weathering) with marine carbonate (resistant weathering) interbedded at foot scale. Note that from right to left, several corbonate beds thin as interbedded shales thicken, suggesting progradation of the carbonate system across areas that were previously characterized by deposition of shale. Distance between arrows roughly 3 m. C) Fining-upward succession in sandstone interpreted as fluvial. Packages of similar fining-upwards successions commonly become thinner and finger-graned upwars. Pen for scale. D) Carbonate nodules (N) and prismatic structure (P) in interpreted paleosol. Pedogenic features not illustrated in the photo include rhizoliths, root tubules, subangular blocky structure, and pedogenic slickensides. Hammer for scale. E) Coarse conglomerate, interpreted as fluvial, that fills a channel form feature. Pencil in lower right corner for scale. F) Corase conglomerate filling in channel form that cuts into marine carbonate below. Hammer for scale. Facies-carbonates. G) Fusulinid-rich skeletal mud-lean packstone to grainstone. Phylloid algae, foraminifera, peloids, bryozoans, and small crinoids are also present. Long axis = 11 mm, H) Phylloid algal wackestone. Phylloids may occur in more muddy facies, as in this photo, or whitin more grainy, cement-rich facies. In the Holder Formation, very little depositional porosity remains due to early meteoric diagenesis (see Goldstein, 1988b, 1991). Long axis = 11 mm. I) Foraminiferarich, skeletal-peloid grainstone. Fossils also inclute an open marine fauna such as phylloids, brachiopods, fusulinids, bryozoans, and crinoids, as well as peloids and minor quartz silt. No evidence for peritidal deposition (mudcracks, fenestrae, microbial laminites, etc.) are present in this facies. Log axis = 11 mm. J) Skeletal wackestone. Grains include crinoids, minor quartz silt, bryozoans. Log axis = 2.65 mm. K) Shingles of ooid graintone. The thick, cross-bedded acretionary foresets pass laterally into more nodular and slightly argillaceous packstone. Photo from uppermost part of Beeman Formation (cf. Figure 9, section NDC 3, 8-23 feet height). Person for scale. L) Root tubules, rhizoliths, and laminated crusts on subaerisl exposure surface.

TABLE 1

Lithofacies Summary, Holder Formation (Virgilian, Pennsylvanian), Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico

namecontacts & assoc. faciescomponent grainssedimentary structures/beddinginterpretation
phylloid algal/skeletal wackestone, packstone, and boundstonegradational lower, commonly sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p/g
leopard rock
major: phylloid algae
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cement
massive to wavy bedding
large scale accretionary foresets as flank beds (R)
shelter pores (C), laminated internal sediment (C)
commonly grades upwards to more diverse fauna with more bioclastic debris
subwave-base to wave influenced open marine subtidal
'leopard rock' boundstonesharp lower, sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p
phylloid algal facies
fossiliferous grey clay-siltstone
major: encrusting foraminiferids, cement, cyanobacteria
minor: brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans
bulbous hemispheroids, commonly with digitate internal morphology, up to 3′ × 3′
some layers continuous across several 100 m, one leopard rock horizon continuous across >5 km
skeletal-peloidal packstone fill between heads
common in lows laterally equivalent to mounds
subwave base open marine subtidal
commonly flooding units
oncoid-skeletal wackestone and packstonesharp to gradational lower commonly gradational upper
nodular skeletal w/p, phylloid w/p
syringoporid heads
major: oncoids, encrusting foraminiferids
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cephalopods
burrows
nodular bedded (A)
argillaceous seams
deeper subtidal open marine
fusulinid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational lower from siltstone gradational upper to massive peloid and skeletal w/p/gmajor: fusulinids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, bivalves, bryozoans, gastropods, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (A) to thick (C) bedded
argillaceous (C) or with thin clay to fine silt seams (C)
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
subtidal open marine
skeletal-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, peloid-skeletal w/p/gmajor: diverse assemblage of skeletal debris, including: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, trilobites, pin shells, foraminiferids, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, echinoids, peloids, syringoporid corals
minor: quartz silt to sand, coated grains, fenestrate and ramose bryozoans, ostracods, Osagia, encrusting forams
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
planar-tabular cross laminations (6″-2′) (R)
parallel and wavy laminations (C)
Bellerophontid gastropods common at tops of some units (C)
subtidal open marine
peloid-skeletal wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: peloids, skeletal grains, incl: fusulinids, bryozoans, crinoids, echinoids foraminiferids, gastropods, bivalves, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae,
minor: trilobites, ostracods, quartz silt, brachiopods, ooids, echinoids
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
distinct burrows to bioturbated (C)
coarsen-upwards trend (R)
trough and planar-tabular cross-laminations (R)
subtidal open marine
foraminiferid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: foraminiferids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, fusulinids, bivalves bryozoans, gastropods, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (R) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (A)
grainstone trough to low-angle cross-laminations
subtidal open marine
ooid-skeletal packstone to grainstonegradational lower from siltstone
gradational to sharp upper to phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/g
major: ooids
minor: crinoids, brachiopods, peloids foraminiferids, quartz sand, bivalves, fusulinids
thin to thick bedded
large-scale (up to 8′) accretionary foresets (R)
coarse-fine laminations (C), fining-upwards (C)
trough to planar-tabular cross-laminations (C)
above wave-base subtidal open marine
laminated crustsharp upper contact
sharp to gradational lower contact
commonly developed on facies with open marine fauna
enclosed skeletal grainswavy laminations (A), autoclastic breccia (C)
rhizoliths (C), root tubules (A) w/drab halos
thin (<0.5″) to thick bedded
sheet cracks (C), circumgran. cracks (C)
subaerial exposure/paleosol
grey claystone to siltstone with fossilsgradational lower from red siltstone, sharp lower from laminated crust, gradational to sharp upper to peloid-skel w/p/b, fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gminor: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, ostracodes, fenestrate bryozoans, plant fragments Orbiculoidesplaty to fissile bedding (A), thin bedded parallel laminations (A) , ripples (<2 “amp.) (R) fewer fossils, more plant fragments upwards in many units
coarsen-upwards trend over 5-20' (C)
deeper marine; prodelta to delta front
siltstone to sandstonesharp to gradational base with grey or green clay-siltstone (with fossils); interbedded with claystone to siltstone
sharp to gradational upper, into marine carbonate or fossiliferous clay-siltstone
subarkosic to arkosic arenite (poorly to moderately sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to m. sand; Q,B,M,C,F, fusulinids, brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids; matrix may also be calcareousplanar-tabular cross-laminations (up to 3') (A) hummocky cross-laminations (R), in some sandstone units;
upward transitions from planar beds to ripples wave and current ripple cross-laminae (<1”) (C);
couplets of massive to rippled to planar laminae are present in some silty layers within shales
shallow marine, delta front
red claystone to siltstone nonfossiliferoussharp upper, overlain by skeletal and peloid w/p/g or green shale;
sharp to gradational lower
well-to poorly sorted clay to c. silt; quartz, feldspars, micas,platy (R) and subangular blocky (A) structure, argillans (C), rhizotubules (A), rhizoliths, circumgran. cracks (C) carbonate glaebules (R to A)subaerial exposure/paleosol; possibly alluvial
sandstone conglomeratesharp, commonly erosional base incising into red claystone/siltstone or, less commonly, marine carbonate with subaerial exposure at top
sharp to gradational upper, possibly fining-upwards to red clay-siltstone
matrix: arkosic arenite (poorly sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to c. sand; Q,B,M,C,F
clasts: well-rounded, poorly sorted; include carbonate, chert, quartzite; up to 5 cm diameter
trough cross-laminations (up to 3') (A)
fining upward trough sets (C)
current ripple cross-laminae (<1 “) (C);
locally significant incision (up to 52' )(R)
gutter casts (R); plant fragments (A)
clast supported (C)
fluvial
namecontacts & assoc. faciescomponent grainssedimentary structures/beddinginterpretation
phylloid algal/skeletal wackestone, packstone, and boundstonegradational lower, commonly sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p/g
leopard rock
major: phylloid algae
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cement
massive to wavy bedding
large scale accretionary foresets as flank beds (R)
shelter pores (C), laminated internal sediment (C)
commonly grades upwards to more diverse fauna with more bioclastic debris
subwave-base to wave influenced open marine subtidal
'leopard rock' boundstonesharp lower, sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p
phylloid algal facies
fossiliferous grey clay-siltstone
major: encrusting foraminiferids, cement, cyanobacteria
minor: brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans
bulbous hemispheroids, commonly with digitate internal morphology, up to 3′ × 3′
some layers continuous across several 100 m, one leopard rock horizon continuous across >5 km
skeletal-peloidal packstone fill between heads
common in lows laterally equivalent to mounds
subwave base open marine subtidal
commonly flooding units
oncoid-skeletal wackestone and packstonesharp to gradational lower commonly gradational upper
nodular skeletal w/p, phylloid w/p
syringoporid heads
major: oncoids, encrusting foraminiferids
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cephalopods
burrows
nodular bedded (A)
argillaceous seams
deeper subtidal open marine
fusulinid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational lower from siltstone gradational upper to massive peloid and skeletal w/p/gmajor: fusulinids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, bivalves, bryozoans, gastropods, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (A) to thick (C) bedded
argillaceous (C) or with thin clay to fine silt seams (C)
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
subtidal open marine
skeletal-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, peloid-skeletal w/p/gmajor: diverse assemblage of skeletal debris, including: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, trilobites, pin shells, foraminiferids, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, echinoids, peloids, syringoporid corals
minor: quartz silt to sand, coated grains, fenestrate and ramose bryozoans, ostracods, Osagia, encrusting forams
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
planar-tabular cross laminations (6″-2′) (R)
parallel and wavy laminations (C)
Bellerophontid gastropods common at tops of some units (C)
subtidal open marine
peloid-skeletal wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: peloids, skeletal grains, incl: fusulinids, bryozoans, crinoids, echinoids foraminiferids, gastropods, bivalves, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae,
minor: trilobites, ostracods, quartz silt, brachiopods, ooids, echinoids
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
distinct burrows to bioturbated (C)
coarsen-upwards trend (R)
trough and planar-tabular cross-laminations (R)
subtidal open marine
foraminiferid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: foraminiferids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, fusulinids, bivalves bryozoans, gastropods, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (R) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (A)
grainstone trough to low-angle cross-laminations
subtidal open marine
ooid-skeletal packstone to grainstonegradational lower from siltstone
gradational to sharp upper to phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/g
major: ooids
minor: crinoids, brachiopods, peloids foraminiferids, quartz sand, bivalves, fusulinids
thin to thick bedded
large-scale (up to 8′) accretionary foresets (R)
coarse-fine laminations (C), fining-upwards (C)
trough to planar-tabular cross-laminations (C)
above wave-base subtidal open marine
laminated crustsharp upper contact
sharp to gradational lower contact
commonly developed on facies with open marine fauna
enclosed skeletal grainswavy laminations (A), autoclastic breccia (C)
rhizoliths (C), root tubules (A) w/drab halos
thin (<0.5″) to thick bedded
sheet cracks (C), circumgran. cracks (C)
subaerial exposure/paleosol
grey claystone to siltstone with fossilsgradational lower from red siltstone, sharp lower from laminated crust, gradational to sharp upper to peloid-skel w/p/b, fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gminor: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, ostracodes, fenestrate bryozoans, plant fragments Orbiculoidesplaty to fissile bedding (A), thin bedded parallel laminations (A) , ripples (<2 “amp.) (R) fewer fossils, more plant fragments upwards in many units
coarsen-upwards trend over 5-20' (C)
deeper marine; prodelta to delta front
siltstone to sandstonesharp to gradational base with grey or green clay-siltstone (with fossils); interbedded with claystone to siltstone
sharp to gradational upper, into marine carbonate or fossiliferous clay-siltstone
subarkosic to arkosic arenite (poorly to moderately sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to m. sand; Q,B,M,C,F, fusulinids, brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids; matrix may also be calcareousplanar-tabular cross-laminations (up to 3') (A) hummocky cross-laminations (R), in some sandstone units;
upward transitions from planar beds to ripples wave and current ripple cross-laminae (<1”) (C);
couplets of massive to rippled to planar laminae are present in some silty layers within shales
shallow marine, delta front
red claystone to siltstone nonfossiliferoussharp upper, overlain by skeletal and peloid w/p/g or green shale;
sharp to gradational lower
well-to poorly sorted clay to c. silt; quartz, feldspars, micas,platy (R) and subangular blocky (A) structure, argillans (C), rhizotubules (A), rhizoliths, circumgran. cracks (C) carbonate glaebules (R to A)subaerial exposure/paleosol; possibly alluvial
sandstone conglomeratesharp, commonly erosional base incising into red claystone/siltstone or, less commonly, marine carbonate with subaerial exposure at top
sharp to gradational upper, possibly fining-upwards to red clay-siltstone
matrix: arkosic arenite (poorly sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to c. sand; Q,B,M,C,F
clasts: well-rounded, poorly sorted; include carbonate, chert, quartzite; up to 5 cm diameter
trough cross-laminations (up to 3') (A)
fining upward trough sets (C)
current ripple cross-laminae (<1 “) (C);
locally significant incision (up to 52' )(R)
gutter casts (R); plant fragments (A)
clast supported (C)
fluvial

In Contacts and Associated Fades column: m = mudstone; w = wackestone; p = packstone; g = grainstone; b = boundstone

In Component Grains column: Q = quartz; B = biotite; M = muscovite; C = chlorite; F = feldspar

In Sedimentary Structures/Bedding column: R = rare; C = common; A = abundant

(1) Facies association A includes fossiliferous gray to green claystone, siltstone, and fine sandstone with marine fossils and hummocky cross-stratification (Figure 8a, b). Ciaystone and siltstone are parallel laminated {Figure 8b), contain brachiopods {including Orbiculoides), fusulinids, crinoids, and other skeletal fragments, and are more fossiliferous near their base. These fine-grained siliciclastics contain more abundant plant debris upward and form a general coarsening-upward trend, from claystone upward to siltstone. Near the top of this coarsening-upward trend, beds may contain thin sandy or silty layers with fining-upward, partial Bouma sequences (Te, Td, Te). Siltstones and sandstones in this facies association contain marine fossils (fusulinids, foramlniferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bivalves), marine trace fossils (Chondrites and Thallassinoides?), hummocky cross-stratification, and wave ripples (Figure 8a), Sandstones are poorly to moderately sorted and subarkosic to arkoslc arenlte in composition. The upper contact of the siltstone and sandstone facies may be gradatlonal with marine limestone, and lower contacts are sharp to gradational. Based on the open marine fauna, marine trace fossils, hummocky cross-stratification, and upper gradational contacts with marine carbonate, facies association A is interpreted to represent marine deposition (cf. Carr and Scott 1990). Parallel laminated, Orbiculoides-bearing, fossiliferous ciaystone units suggest deeper water, offshore deposition and the overlying fossiliferous siltstone or fine sandstone are interpreted to represent lower shoreface deposits.

(2) Facies association B includes red, non-fossiliferous claystone to siitstone and laterally continuous to lenticular sandstone and conglomerate (Figure 8), Red claystone and siltstone commonly contain evidence for pedogenesis, including rhizoliths, root tubules, well-developed subangular blocky structure, argillans, carbonate glaebules with circumgranular cracks, and an absence of laminations, marine trace Fossils, and primary depositional structures (e.g. Figure 8d). Sandstone and conglomerate units are trough cross-stratified, poorly sorted arkosic to lithic arenite to wacke, and consist of several thinning- and fining-upward packages (Figure 8c). Conglomerate clasts are up to 75 cm long (most are 1-4 cm diameter) and include limestone, chert, and quartzite (Figure 8e). These units may be sheet like or may cut sharply through previously deposited strata, including red claystone to siitstone and, at times, marine carbonate (Figure 8f). Erosional relief at the base of conglomerate beds ranges between 1 and 20 m. On the basis of the coarse grained, channel-form deposits and intimately interbedded claystone and siltstone with pedogenic features, facies association В is interpreted to represent alluvial deposition on a coastal plain. The fine-grained components with subangular blocky structure, rhizoliths, and root tubules represent paleosols, whereas the coarser-grained sheet-like to channel-form strata are fluvial deposits.

(3) Facies association C includes wackestone, packstone, and grainstone with peloids, skeletal fragments, oncoids, and ootds, and phylloid algal, coral, and foramlniferal-algal (“leopard rock” of Toomey et al. 1977) boundstone (Figure 8). Skeletal carbonate grain types include foraminiferids, fusulinids, crinoids, brachiopods, bivalves, bryozoans, echinoid spines, corals, ostracodes, and dasycladacean algae {Figure 8g-j). Non-skeletal grain types include peloids, ooids, and oncolites (Figure 8k). Quartz silt is generally uncommon in carbonate units, although it is locally abundant. The most prominent boundstone features are the phylloid algal bioherms (which may form cliffs up to 35 meters tall) (internal mound facies are detailed in Piumley and Graves 1953, Wilson 1967, 1975; Parks 1977; Toomey etal. 1977a,b; Toomey 1991). Isolated syringoporld and encrusting foraminiferid boundstone and “leopard rock” form smaller bioherms up to one meter thick. Muddier, more nodular wackstone units commonly grade upwards and generally coarsen upwards into more diversely fossiliferous packstone and grainstone with subtle parallel or cross-laminations. The open marine fauna, oolitic facies, and absence of peritidal features (mudcracks, fenestrae, microbial laminites) in these carbonates indicate deposition in a subtidai, open-marine setting. Oolitic units commonly are cross-laminated and may contain accretionary foresets up to 2.5 meters thick (Figure 8k). In Beeman Canyon, several capping oolitic units contain low-angle cross-laminations, fine graded laminations, and keystone vugs suggesting foreshore deposition. These types of features, as well as microbial laminites, laminar or irregular fenestrae, and mudcracks, are virtually absent in Dry Canyon. Fossiliferous marine carbonates at the top of high-frequency sequences are capped with a surface with laminated crusts, rhizoliths, and root tubules, interpreted as forming during subaerial exposure (see Goldstein 1988a,b, 1991 for examples and detailed descriptions) (Figure 8i). Our observations suggest that not all reddish zones are subaerial exposure surfaces.

High-Resolution Sequence Architecture

Holder facies are arranged into parasequences and high-frequency sequences (defined and described below). The Holder high-frequency sequences are comparable in scale to the classic “cyclothems” of many previous workers (e.g. Wanless and Shepard 1936; Moore 1964; Wilson 1967; Heckel 1977; Watney 1980; Watney etal. 1989, 1996) and form the highest resolution, correctable, chronostratigraphic unit in our study. We use an informal nomenclature to identify regionally extensive high-frequency sequence boundaries on our cross-sections, starting with A at the top, down to K near the base (Figures 9-11), Four additional surfaces above surface A (named W,X,Y,2) are present in only one of our measured sections (LL) that described the uppermost part of the Holder Formation, In this text, we name our sequences based on the designation of the Immediately underlying sequence boundary. For example, high-frequency sequence C is underlain by high-frequency sequence boundary C, and is capped by high-frequency sequence boundary B.

Figure 9.

Dry Canyon cross section. The cross setion covers approximately 3-4 kilometers in an appoximate landward (east) to basinward (west) direction. Data include both outcrop and core descriptions. The La Luz anticline trends roughly perpendicular to this cross section and intersects at roughly NDC-10. Gamma ray logs are included for the cored wells.

Figure 9.

Dry Canyon cross section. The cross setion covers approximately 3-4 kilometers in an appoximate landward (east) to basinward (west) direction. Data include both outcrop and core descriptions. The La Luz anticline trends roughly perpendicular to this cross section and intersects at roughly NDC-10. Gamma ray logs are included for the cored wells.

Figure 10.

Beeman Canyon cross section. See Figure 2 for location. Data include only outcrop description Red lines represent high-frequency sequence boundaries.

Figure 10.

Beeman Canyon cross section. See Figure 2 for location. Data include only outcrop description Red lines represent high-frequency sequence boundaries.

Figure 11.

Yucca Caynon cross section. These high-frequency sequences to the east of the shelf margin (roughly the position of YC-5) contain mostly corbonate-dominaded vertical facies successions. Those HFS that are more basinward include a significant proportion of silliciclastic fasies, either alluvial or marine. Carbonate parasequences are, in general, difficult to correlate, but high-frequency sequence boundaries are easily traceable throughout the study area.

Figure 11.

Yucca Caynon cross section. These high-frequency sequences to the east of the shelf margin (roughly the position of YC-5) contain mostly corbonate-dominaded vertical facies successions. Those HFS that are more basinward include a significant proportion of silliciclastic fasies, either alluvial or marine. Carbonate parasequences are, in general, difficult to correlate, but high-frequency sequence boundaries are easily traceable throughout the study area.

Parasequences

Individual facies in the Holder Formation stack into shoaling-upward parasequences bound by a marine-flooding surface interpreted to represent an abrupt increase in water depth (cf. Van Wagoner et al. 1990). Abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces are present only at the top of the uppermost parasequence in each high-frequency sequence.

Carbonate parasequences, bounded by marine flooding surfaces, can be defined In all measured sections, although their lateral correlation is difficult. Within parasequences, basal, nodular-bedded, argillaceous, fusulinid, oncoid, or phyiloid algal packstone to wackestone grade upwards into medium- to thick-bedded skeletai-peloid packstone (or iess commonly grainstone). This vertical facies transition is interpreted to represent a shallowing-upward trend from lower energy or deeper water deposition to higher energy or relatively shallow water deposition. A sharp contact with the next overlying nodular, argillaceous facies represents the parasequence boundary or marine flooding surface. Figure 11 shows lateral facies relations within Yucca Canyon, and illustrates the apparent 'facies mosiac' within high-frequency sequences dominated by carbonate parasequences. Between these ciosely-spaced sections, parasequences cannot be confidently correlated, although high-frequency sequence boundaries can be easily traced. We should note that some of this facies complexity is due to depositional topography aiong this cross-section (Figure 11), although high lateral facies variability is a consistent theme in much of the Holder strata.

Marine siliciclastic parasequences contain a conformable coarsening-upward succession bounded by marine flooding surfaces (Mitchum and Van Wagoner 1991). The bottom part of these parasequences are platy bedded, parallel laminated, gray to greenish-gray, claystone or siltstone which may contain Orbiculoides or phosphatic fragments. Bed thickness and grain size increase upward and beds include sandstone or siltstone with parallel laminations or wave ripples. Some parasequences are capped by fossiliferous, hummocky cross-stratified sandstone of facies association A. A sharp upward transition from the siltstone or sandstone to claystone represents an abrupt deepening and the marine flooding surface. These siliciclastic parasequences may be correlative across the study area (e.g. marine siliciclastlcs of high-frequency sequences B, E, and F), although not ail are continuous due to lapout or erosion (e.g. marine sillciclastics in high-frequency sequences l1 and I). Alluvial siliciclastic parasequences may be defined in Holder strata, although they were not subdivided in this study.

An autogenic origin for many carbonate and siliciclastic parasequences cannot be ruled out because of the absence of abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces and the limited lateral continuity of some parasequences. Parasequences may reflect minor relative changes in sea level that did not subaerially expose the shelf (Koerschner and Read 1989, Watney et al. 1989, Goldhammer et al. 1990, Weber et al. 1995).

Hiqh-Freguency Sequences

High-frequency sequences of the Holder Formation form upward-shoaling successions like parasequences but are bounded by abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces (including fluvial incision of marine strata), or their correlative conformities (Figure 12) (Wilson 1967). The sequence-bounding abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces are laterally continuous and represent significant chronostratographic surfaces (Figure 9), even though the facies that they bound are discontinuous. One means to describe lateral facies change within an individual high-frequency sequence is to characterize the vertical facies succession (Vertical successions' hereafter), at any one point along a shelf transect. We recognize three informal end-member, descriptive types of vertical successions: 1) marine siliciclastic-dominated, 2) carbonate-dominated, and 3) nonmarine-marine mixed (Figure 12). Because of lateral changes, however, different vertical successions may be present at different positions along the shelf transect within the same high-frequency sequence. Lateral relationships among end members are discussed below. These vertical successions and lateral relationships are similar to those documented by Wilson (1967), except that our study did not include sequences from true basinal physiographic settings (see Wilson 1967 and Soreghan and Giles 1999b).

Figure 12.

Schematic diagram illustrating types of vertical facies successions and their lateral relationships on a general landward-basinward transect (compare with Wilson 1967, 1975; Heckel 1977; Watney et al. 1989, 1996). Note that the internal components of the high-frequency sequence changes significantly across the shelf (Wilson 1967). The lateral distribution of different end-member types of vertical facies successions are indicated schematically and are discussed in the next.

Figure 12.

Schematic diagram illustrating types of vertical facies successions and their lateral relationships on a general landward-basinward transect (compare with Wilson 1967, 1975; Heckel 1977; Watney et al. 1989, 1996). Note that the internal components of the high-frequency sequence changes significantly across the shelf (Wilson 1967). The lateral distribution of different end-member types of vertical facies successions are indicated schematically and are discussed in the next.

(1) Marine siliciclastic-dominated vertical successions consist primarily of one or more parasequences with thick marine siliciclastics of facies association A, but may contain carbonate strata near the top (Figure 9; for example, high-frequency sequence 11; MR-2, 140-216 feet; Figure 12). These successions generally coarsen upwards, from marine claystone to siltstone to marine sandstone, and contain thicker beds upwards. Subaerial exposure of subtidal facies is almost always developed on the marine carbonate strata rather than at the top of one of the siliciclastic facies. Marine siliciclastic-dominated vertical successions are common in basinward locations (Figure 9) where bypassed coarse, alluvial siliciclastics are absent.

(2) Carbonate-dominated vertical successions include thin to absent marine siliciclastics overlain by one or more parasequences with marine carbonates of facies association C (Figure 9; for example, high-frequency sequence 12, NDC-2, 207-242 feet; Figure 12). Flooding units at the base of the carbonate-dominated vertical successions are fossiliferous shales or nodular oncoid-, fusulinid-, or phylloid algal-rich carbonate. Upper units include a diverse open marine fauna forming fossiliferous packstone, mud-lean packstone, or less commonly grainstone; ooid grainstone is also present locally, especially in Beeman Canyon. The upper surface of these vertical successions is a subaerial exposure surface developed on subtidal marine carbonate facies. Carbonate-dominated vertical successions are best developed in the central part of the study area, basinward of the area of nonmarine-marine mixed vertical successions (Figure 12).

(3) Nonmarine-marine mixed vertical successions include marine siliciclastic, marine carbonate, and alluvial siliciclastic facies, each of which may be relatively thick (Figure 9; for example, high-frequency sequence J, section NDC-1, 51-90 feet; Figure 12). The base of this vertical succession commonly is several meters of alluvial strata (facies association B) with strongly developed paleosols and fluvial channels. Alluvial facies of the nonmarine-marine mixed vertical succession may be confined to incised valleys that locally erode into the marine carbonates of the previous high-frequency sequence (Figure 9, west of NDC-3). The alluvial strata are overiain by a flooding surface and fine-grained marine siiiciciastics or nodular, muddy marine carbonates. Like the other vertical successions, the nonmarine-marine vertical successions may include several parasequences, the uppermost of which is carbonate and capped by an abnormai subaerial exposure surface. In general, within each high-frequency sequence, the areas with a nonmarine-marine mixed vertical succession lie updip (e.g. Beeman Canyon) and landward (e.g. section NDC 1/1 A) of the area in which vertical successions are carbonate-dominated (Figure 12).

Lateral changes in high-frequency sequences above surface G are quite subtle (Figures 9 and 10). In contrast, lateral changes are readily apparent in high-frequency sequences J, l3, l2, and l1 (Figures 9, 10, and 12) (Wilson 1967, 1972). In high-frequency sequence J, basinward areas (MR-10, MR-2, Figure 9) contain thick alluvial siiiciciastics overlain by marine carbonates, representing the nonmarine-marine mixed vertical facies succession. These alluvial siliciclastics onlap the steep depositional topography created by the mounds. Other high-frequency sequences located in a more basinward position contain the marine-siiiciclastic dominated vertical facies succession. Slightly more landward positions (e.g. EPR #2, YC-1, NDC-2; Figures 9 and 10) include only thick carbonates of the carbonate-dominated vertical facies succession. Farther landward positions (EPR #3, NDC-1, Figures 9, 10, and 12) are characterized by alluvial, marine siliciclastic, and carbonate facies, comprising the nonmarine-marine mixed vertical facies succession.

Vertical facies successions are distributed differently in high-frequency sequence 13. In this interval, basinward locations include only very thin marine siiiciciastics and carbonates, and shelf margin areas (e.g. EPR #2, NDC-2, Figure 9) have carbonate-dominated vertical facies successions. Both landward (e.g. EPR#3, NDC-10, Figure 9) and more structurally updip positions {e.g. Beeman Canyon; Figure 10) contain the nonmarine-marine mixed vertical facies succession, with alluvial siliciclastics, marine siliciclastics, and marine carbonates. In contrast to high-frequency sequence J (previously described), the thickest siliciclastics in high-frequency sequence l3 are present in the landward and updip positions. This simple contrast illustrates the lateral and vertical variability in this system.

Interpretations - High-frequency sequences

Following Wilson {1967), high-frequency sequences of the Holder Formation can be interpreted in terms of high-frequency relative changes in sea level, which are indicated by the abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces {some of which extend down paleoslope) and by incised valleys that cut through marine strata. The basal part of each high-frequency sequence overlies an abnormal subaerial exposure surface or correlative conformity. In the Dry Canyon study area, downdip siliciclastics (alluvial and/or marine) onfap previous topography and the subaerial exposure surface {Figure 13a). These onlapping strata are limited to downdip locations and within incised valleys and are interpreted to reflect bypass of the shelf during a lowstand or the early phases of a relative rise in sea-level (cyclic-reciprocal sedimentation of Wilson 1967). Preservation of alluvial siliciclastics in the landward sections to the east on Figure 9 and within incised valleys may be related to alluvial aggradation or progradation during the early part of the relative rise in sea-level (Wilson 1967).

Figure 13.

Schematic diagram illustrating interpreted evolution of an individual high-frequency sequence. Approximate position of Dry and Beeman Canyon transects are indicated. The LaLaz anticline plunges to the north/northwest though an area near the center of the schematic prifile. The Pedernal uplift lies to the east (the right in this figure). The amplitudes of relative changes in sea level are on the order of 30 meters or more, as discussed in the text.

a. relative low in the level, characterized by bypass and deposition of alluvial strata.

b. relative rise in sea level, accompanied by significant marine flooding and deposition of grey shale. Thih, transgressive carbonates are present in many high-frequency sequences.

c. relative high in sea level to start of relative fall in sea level, characterized by deposition of carbonate strata.

Figure 13.

Schematic diagram illustrating interpreted evolution of an individual high-frequency sequence. Approximate position of Dry and Beeman Canyon transects are indicated. The LaLaz anticline plunges to the north/northwest though an area near the center of the schematic prifile. The Pedernal uplift lies to the east (the right in this figure). The amplitudes of relative changes in sea level are on the order of 30 meters or more, as discussed in the text.

a. relative low in the level, characterized by bypass and deposition of alluvial strata.

b. relative rise in sea level, accompanied by significant marine flooding and deposition of grey shale. Thih, transgressive carbonates are present in many high-frequency sequences.

c. relative high in sea level to start of relative fall in sea level, characterized by deposition of carbonate strata.

Alternatively, the landward alluvial strata may represent subaerial exposure of siliciclastics that were deposited during the latest highstand. While we cannot rule this possibility out, it seems intuitive that the preservation of landward alluvial siliciclastics would be favored during periods of increased accommodation, rather than decreasing accommodation. Similarly, there is commonly a sharp contact between the carbonates and pedogenically-aitered siliciclastics (Wilson 1967), although many marine siliciclastlc-carbonate contacts are gradational. Bob Goldstein (oral comm. 1997) has noted that subaerial exposure surfaces are less well developed on carbonates landward of the axis of the La Luz anticline, but that the overlying alluvial strata contain well-developed paleosols. This observation suggests that some siliciclastics may have been supplied to this area prior to subaerial exposure.

Although initial transgressive deposits may include thin, muddying-upwards wackestone to packstone {containing oncoids, or small syringoporid and leopard rock bioherms), most high-frequency sequences are characterized by a basal, shelf-wide, dark gray to green fossil-bearing claystone and siltstone above the transgressive surface (Figure 13b) and coarsen upward locally. These marine carbonate and siliciclastic deposits are interpreted to represent continued relative rise in sea-level to a stillstand in sea-level (Wilson 1967),

The upper part of most high-frequency sequences consists of one or more shallowing-upward carbonate parasequences (Figure 9) in a succession that becomes less nodular, more diversely fossiliferous, and more grain-dominated upwards (Figure 13c). These subtidal carbonate units extend across the entire shelf but may thin and become more nodular basinward. The uppermost carbonate bed are is capped by an abnormal subaerial exposure surface, reflecting a relative fall In sea level. The carbonate deposits and the subaerial exposure surfaces are interpreted to represent the late part of the relative stillstand to the early part of the relative fall in sea-level (Wilson 1967). Repeated abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces indicate that available accommodation was not filled during deposition of each high-frequency sequence (cf. Gianniny and Simo 1996).

One means to quantify the minimum amplitude of the relative falls in sea level is by measuring the vertical extent of subaerial exposure surfaces down paleosiope and the depth of fluvial incision through marine strata (Wilson 1967; Goldstein 1988a; Goldstein and Franseen 1995; Rankey and Lehrmann 1996; Rankey 1997). In this system, depth of incision is up to 18 meters and the vertical change in the elevation of subaerial exposure surfaces on marine strata is up to 32 meters (not accounting for compaction; cf. Wilson 1967; Goldstein 1988a). Recent work by Soreghan and Giles (1999a) interprets amplitudes of 80 to over 100 meters as subaerial exposure is traced down synoptic relief of phylloid algal mounds in the San Andres Mountains to the west. Other measurements are slightly less, but are still relatively high (Table 2). Highamplitude relative changes in sea level would be expected during global icehouse climatic conditions during Pennsylvanian time in which extensive continental glaciers are present (Wanless and Shepard 1936; Van Siclen 1958; Merriam 1964; Wilson 1967; Heckel 1977; Veevers and Powell 1987; Crowley and Baum 1991), and most of these high-frequency sequences are of eustatic origin. Nevertheless, the Pedernal shelf was tectonically active, and some of the relative changes in sea level might reflect syndepositional deformation (Wilson 1967, 1972).

Stacking Patterns - High-Frequency Sequences

Stacking patterns can be defined by different stratal attributes, including 1D thickness and facies patterns (e.g. Read and Goldhammer 1988; Koerschner and Read 1989; Osleger and Read 1993; Goldhammer et al. 1993; Saller etal, 1994; Lehrmann and Goldhammer 1999) and 2D patterns of progradation, aggradation, and retrogradation within parasequences or high-frequency sequences (e.g. Mitchum and Van Wagoner 1991; Weber et al. 1995; Watney et al. 1996). Trends tn these strata! attributes through time can then be used to define a lower-order stratigraphy (see references above).

One-dimensional stacking pattern analysis utilizes attributes including thickness, facies, and presence/absence of subaerial exposure to define lower-order stacking patterns. In the Holder Formation, the thickness of individual high-frequency sequences vary significantly across the sheif (Figure 14). This variability, and the presence of unused accommodation, suggests that thickness is not a consistent and diagnostic attribute related solely to long-term accommodation trends (Gianniny and Simo 1996; Grammar et al. 1996). Thickness is in part related to the distribution of facies across the shelf, which is not uniform or systematic (as illustrated below). These ambiguities suggest that 1D analysis of facies or thickness trends in this system may be misleading. Likewise, all of the high-frequency sequences include abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces and many include fluvial incision, and so these characteristics are non-diagnostic for defining composite sequence boundaries.

Figure 14.

Thickness changes within and among individual high-frequency sequences. “Measured minimum amplitude” refers to the measured values of relative change in sea level. Note the broad range of thicknesses for each hogh-frequency sequence, the lack of systematic changes, and that most thickness values are less than the measured minimum amplitude of change.

Figure 14.

Thickness changes within and among individual high-frequency sequences. “Measured minimum amplitude” refers to the measured values of relative change in sea level. Note the broad range of thicknesses for each hogh-frequency sequence, the lack of systematic changes, and that most thickness values are less than the measured minimum amplitude of change.

There are many means by which 2D stacking patterns can be defined, including characterizing geometric relationships (for example, Vail et al. 1977; Sarg 1988; Christie-Blick 1991) and tracking the position of facies transitions or contacts (Mitchum and Van Wagoner 1991). For example, Wilson (1967,1972) noted (he offlapping geometry present in the mound horizons of the lower part of the Holder Formation, and used the geometry to describe the time-transgressive nature of the bioherms (see also Toomey et al. 1977a,b, Toomey 1991). Most of the remainder of the Holder is more stratiform, however, and requires utilization of the position of facies transitions or contacts to define stacking patterns. Two such transitions are highlighted on Figure 15: (1) the basinward lateral transition from thicker, clean, massive carbonate to thinner, nodular, argillaceous carbonate, and (2) the basinward pinchout of alluvial siliciclastics.

Figure 15.

Distribution of key facies and facies associations within high-frequency sequences from the Holder Formation to surface A. The total length of the cross-section is ~3 km. Due to projection from 3D space onto the line of cross-section, there are components of along-strike variability which may appear unusual, and the spacing is somewhat arbitrary. The soild white dots represent the position of the basinward transition from thick bedded, shoal carbonate to nodular carbonate; stippled dots are the basinward position of pinchout of alluvial facies. Note that (1) the trends in lateral position of the two transitions are not coincident, and (2) the high-frequency sequences above surface H1 contain facies and facies associations that are more continuous than those below H1.

Figure 15.

Distribution of key facies and facies associations within high-frequency sequences from the Holder Formation to surface A. The total length of the cross-section is ~3 km. Due to projection from 3D space onto the line of cross-section, there are components of along-strike variability which may appear unusual, and the spacing is somewhat arbitrary. The soild white dots represent the position of the basinward transition from thick bedded, shoal carbonate to nodular carbonate; stippled dots are the basinward position of pinchout of alluvial facies. Note that (1) the trends in lateral position of the two transitions are not coincident, and (2) the high-frequency sequences above surface H1 contain facies and facies associations that are more continuous than those below H1.

The geographic position of the turnaround from basinward-stepping to landward-stepping facies transitions in the two highlighted examples is different. For example, based on the trends in the 2D distribution of alluvial strata, a turnaround occurs above surface H I (Figure 15). Alluvial strata in high-frequency sequences K through H1 progressively step basinward. Above H1, however, no alluvial strata are observed in high-frequency sequences H and G, and in high-frequency sequence F they are at least 2.2 km landward of those above H1 {Figure 15), reflecting the backstep. In the massive-to-nodular carbonate transition, however, a progradation-retrogradation turnaround is evident at surface I (Figure 15), where the position of this transition steps landward approximately 2.5 km. The overall progradational pattern in the upper part of the Holder is apparent, but landward stepbacks present in the alluvial strata (e.g. in high-frequency sequences D and C) are not reflected by similar stepbacks in the carbonate strata. Similarly, the position of the deepest incised valley (on surface J) or the thickest alluvial strata (on surface 13) do not appear to correspond with any of the other turnarounds.

Discussion - Stacking Patterns of High-Frequency Sequences

The description above and Figure 15 illustrate that a longer-term basinward-landward turnaround within the Holder Formation might be picked at different horizons, depending on the attributes by which the patterns are defined. Why is there this variability? To address this question, we should first consider the processes that might control these transitions that we are tracking.

The position of basinward pinchout of alluvial siliciclastics might reflect several different processes. Deposition and preservation of alluvial siliciclastics are influenced by factors including shelf gradient, bypass, sediment supply, the duration and elevation of the relative iow in baselevel (sea level), and the character of the relative rise in baselevel (sea level) (e.g. Schumm 1993), Many alluvial siiiciciastics below surface I thin and pinch out in a basinward direction near the axis of the La Luz anticline and the mound horizons, suggesting that the depositional highs in this part of the section limited alluvial siiiciciastics to these topographically lower, landward positions (cf, Wilson 1967). The central, higher part of the shelf was bypassed by incised valleys, however, such that coarse alluvial strata were deposited in more basinward positions in some high-frequency sequences (e.g. high-frequency sequence J). The position at which bypass begins probably is influenced by gradient of the shelf also.

The basinward extent of alluvial siliciclastics is influenced by siliciclastic sediment supply. For example, the paleosol at surface 12 is not exceptionally strongly developed, yet this high-frequency sequence includes the thickest alluvial section. These thick alluvial siliciclastics may reflect increased sediment Influx related to uplift in the source area or climate change, rather than a long-term relative low. The Pedernal shelf was considerably closer to its source area than many other well-ordered icehouse systems (e.g., Midcontinent, Paradox Basin), such that any climatic or tectonic changes in the uplands would probably have a large and immediate effect on sedimentation on the shelf.

Another control on the preservation of alluvial strata on the shelf might be the character of baselevel change. For example, re-equilibration of stream gradients might cause aggradation on the shelf during a relative rise in baselevel (sea level). Alternatively, these sheifal alluvial deposits may represent basinward progradation during a relative low in sea level, after the shoreline had migrated basinward. Rate of change might also be important. A rapid rate of rise, which might be expected with the 30+ m relative changes in sea level, might favor rapid migration of the shoreline, flooding the coastal plain before its slope re-equilibrated, resulting in thin alluvial deposits.

The position of the lateral transition from relatively shallow, massive carbonate to relatively deep, nodular carbonate (e.g. Figures 15) reflects the basinward-most extent of this facies transition when sea-level fell below this position on the shelf. The location of this massive-to-nodular carbonate transition is controlled by factors including depositional gradient, the rate of progradation, and the duration of submergence. The influence of depositional gradient and topography is illustrated by the aggradationa! to subtly progradational pattern in the lower part of the Hoider Formation (Figure 15). In these strata, the mounds created significant depositional topography that was not filled in for several high-frequency sequences, such that the shallow marine carbonates could not prograde across the deeper area, and the position of the massive-to-nodular transition was fixed near the margins of the mounds. During deposition of the upper part of the Holder (above H1), when the depositional topography was decreased, the massive-to-nodular carbonate transition moved basinward several 100 m in each successive high-frequency sequence. The rate of progradation and the duration of submergence cannot be evaluated from our data, but a conceptual model for the character of carbonate strata is discussed in Rankey et al. (1998).

Stop Summary and Discussion Questions (Stops 1-3): Recognition and Character of High-Frequency Sequences in the Lower Part of the Holder formation

Key Concepts and Learning Objectives:

  • Platform to basin transect on a narrow, tectonically active shelf

  • Recognition of high-frequency sequences during global icehouse climatic times and observation of lateral and vertical facies variability

  • Identification of subaerial exposure and paleosol features

  • The concept of cyclic-reciprocal sedimentation in mixed carbonate-siliciclastic sequences

  • Evaluation of depositional and geometric relationships between carbonates and siiiciciastics at the basin margin

  • Observation of phylloid algal mounds and their effect on later sedimentation

  • Development of an understanding of the distribution, geometry, and continuity of potential reservoirs

Introduction

Dry Canyon provides a well exposed, dip-oriented transect through the Virgllian (Pennsylvanian) shelf margin of the Pennsylvanian Orogrande Basin. The focus of these stops will be on the recognition of high-frequency sequences within the Holder Formation and deciphering the facies variability within individual high-frequency sequences along a dip-trending transect. Today we will examine a series of high-frequency sequences from two (possibly three if time permits) localities in the lower part of the Holder Formation that correlate to strata just above Wilson's “Main Mound” and just below a thick covered Interval. Our overall objective will be to reconstruct the observations that will enable you to visualize an idealized high-frequency sequence (Figure 12), based on observations of facies variability in strata bounded by chronostratigraphicaily significant surfaces.

Measured sections are included in the guidebook for STOPS 1-3 (Figures 18-20), and a photograph, keyed to the measured section, is included for STOP 1 to aid you (Figure 16).

Figure 16.

Outcrop photomosaics looking north along Highway 82 roadcut. A. Holder stop 1. sequence boundary “J” noted at left of photo, refer to measured seaction in Figure 18. B. Location of Holder Stops 1-3.

Figure 16.

Outcrop photomosaics looking north along Highway 82 roadcut. A. Holder stop 1. sequence boundary “J” noted at left of photo, refer to measured seaction in Figure 18. B. Location of Holder Stops 1-3.

STOP 1 - The major objective at this stop is to recognize high-frequency sequence boundaries and types of vertical facies successions present at this shelf position. Examine the portion of the Highway 82 roadcut shown on the left half of Figure 16 and observe the character of each high-frequency sequence in the outcrop. Refer to Figures 17 and 18 for a measured section (and key) to use as a guide as you walk through the section.

Figure 17.

Key to standard facies, grain types, and sedimentary structures for measured setions in Figures 18-20.

Figure 17.

Key to standard facies, grain types, and sedimentary structures for measured setions in Figures 18-20.

Figure 18.

Measured section, Highway 82 Roadcut (NDC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 18.

Measured section, Highway 82 Roadcut (NDC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

  • On what facies are the subaerial exposure surfaces developed in this section? What depositional environment do these facies represent? Are there any mudcracks, fenestrae, microbial iaminites, or other features that suggest peritidal deposition in the carbonate? What does this suggest concerning relative changes in sea levei?

  • Did the subaerial exposure occur after deposition of the carbonates, or were the carbonates altered during pedogenesis of the overlying siiiciciastics? How might we be abie to teil?

High-frequency sequence boundaries are recognized by subaerial exposure surfaces that are developed on subtidai strata (“abnormal subaerial exposure”). Subaerial exposure features present at this stop inciude rhizoliths, root tubules, blackened-laminated crusts, blackened grains, and subangular blocky structure. These features and photo examples are illustrated in Rankey and Bachtel (1998). We utilize the abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces as chronostratigraphicaily significant surfaces because they cannot have been created by autogenic processes (e.g. lateral facies migration, aggradation, etc.). Instead, they are interpreted to have formed by a relative fall in sea level.

The diverse facies present at this stop include nodular wackestone/packstone, massive fossiliferous packstone, gray shale, red shale, and lenticular sandstone and conglomerate. These diverse facies represent highly variable depositional environments, from sub-wavebase marine to alluvial. Some previous workers have suggested that vertical facies successions are 'compressed,' in that the deepest water facies was deposited in water deeper than the thickness of the high-frequency sequence. This suggestion implies that the facies successions are 'incomplete' in a Waltherian sense,

The variety of facies present at this stop are different from those present at the next stop. Be sure to note what kind of facies associations are present here.

  • What is the physical evidence of the water depths that the various facies represent? What does the nodular- to massive carbonate transition represent? The fossiliferous or gray shaie-to-nodular carbonate transition? What evidence is present in this outcrop to support the hypothesis of vertical facies compression or 'missing' facies?

  • With reference to the 'idealized' high-frequency sequence (Figure 12), what type of vertical facies succession is present at this stop? What does the type of verticai facies succession suggest about our position along the shelf profile?

  • What trends do you recognize in the stacking of successive high-frequency sequences, particularly with reference to the thickness of red alluvial siliciclastics, the nature of the marine carbonates, and the character of gray siliciclastics? What does this observation suggest in terms of stacking patterns of high-frequency sequences and defining composite sequences?

STOP 2 - Like at the previous stop, the major objective at this stop is to recognize high-frequency sequence boundaries and to describe the types of vertical facies successions present within the high-frequency sequences. Remember, an overall goal for today is to evaluate and reconstruct the 'idealized' high-frequency sequence (Figure 12). At this stop, we will be walking through the same high-freguency sequences obsen/ed at STOP 1. A measured section of STOP 2 Is provided in Figure 19.

Figure 19.

Measured section, Yucca Canyon (YC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 19.

Measured section, Yucca Canyon (YC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Hike through the Yucca Mound section and observe the lithofacies typical of the phylloid algal mound and “leopard rock” facies. The phylloid algal facies is a primary reservoir rock on the Eastern Shelf of the Midland Basin, in the Paradox Basin, and in the Midcontinent USA. Porosity in these facies at Yucca Canyon has been occluded by early meteoric cement (Goldstein 1988, 1991).

  • What kinds of porosity are present in the phylloid algai mounds? Phylloid algae were aragonitic. How susceptible would they be to dissolution?

  • Why is the porosity occluded in these mounds, and not in many other examples (the million doiiar question!)?

Once you get above the mounds, keep going up the canyon along the trail, observing the section. Can you pick out the subaerial exposure surfaces that define the tops of the high-frequency sequences? The lowest subaerial exposure surface in this section is correlative with the lowest one in the section at STOP 1. Continue up the section to the thick shaiey, primarily covered, interval; you should find several subaerial exposure surfaces, although they become more cryptic upwards. The thick covered interval is correlative to the approximate position of the fault observed at STOP 1.

  • What types of vertical facies successions are present within the high-frequency sequences above the mounds? Keeping in mind the genera! depositional model (Figure 12), what does the type of vertical facies succession suggest about our position along the shelf profile?

  • Why are there so few siiiciciastics in these high-frequency sequences?

  • What influences did the mounds have on the character of younger strata?

  • What subsurface tools could be used to help pinpoint the crest of mounds or bioherms?

Follow the contours along the covered interval around to the front of Yucca Canyon, and start to descend where the cliffs become less pronounced along the west-facing face near the basinward margin of the phylloid algal mounds.

STOP 3 - The major objective at this stop is to recognize high-frequency sequence boundaries and to describe the types of vertical facies successions present. At this stop, we will be walking through the same high-frequency sequences observed at STOPS 1-2. A simplified measured section is illustrated in Figure 20. This section is located basinward of the thick phylloid algal mounds that we observed at the last stop. At the base of this section, find the first red-stained bed. Locally in this bed, small rhizoliths can be found. This bed represents the stratigraphically lowest subaerial exposure surface that we have been following In the previous two stops. Above this bed are thick sandstone and conglomerate with trough cross-stratification and fining-upward successions. Our correlations suggest that this conglomeratic succession was part of the same high-frequency sequence as a thick (52 ft., -18 m) incised valley. Note the upward changes in sedimentary structures in the sandstone body. What depositional environments do these siliciclastics represent? Eventually, you will come to another limestone bed. Examine it carefully for subaerial exposure features. Continue to work your way up the section, describing the facies and keeping an eye open for subaerial exposure features.

Figure 20.

Measured section, Mill Ridge (MR-2). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequences boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 20.

Measured section, Mill Ridge (MR-2). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequences boundaries are indicated in red.

  • What types of vertical facies successions do you observe within these high-frequency sequences basinward of the mounds? In terms of the general high-frequency sequence model (Figure 12), where are we?

  • What siliclcastic facies are present? What depositional environments do they represent? What carbonate facies are present? How are they different from those present at STOP 2, and what might these differences reflect?

  • What geometric relationship do the coarse siliciclastics have with the carbonate-dominated vertical facies successions of STOP 2? How are alluvial siliciclastics deposited basinward of the shelf margin? in sequence stratigraphic terms, what does this succession represent?

  • Look back towards STOP 2, and follow the orange/red stained bed with your eyes back towards STOP 2. it appears to go up depositional topography (e.g. the relief formed by the mounds). Can autogenic processes create a subaerial exposure surface that goes down depositional topography in a marine succession?

Discussion Questions - End of Day

1) In our exercise today, we used the subaerial exposure surfaces capping these high-frequency sequences to correlate between sections. With no information on these surfaces, would lithostratigraphic correlations have been difficult? Aside from the subaerial exposure surfaces, are there any other significant surfaces we could use?

2) Given that the high-frequency sequence boundaries represent high-resolution lime-lines, how do the facies associations between time-lines vary across the shelf (cf. Figure 12)? Are there predictable trends related to the systems tracts? What are the implications for reservoir architecture and production from analogous subsurface units? Would the play concepts vary in each systems tract and across the shelf? What kind of reservoirs would be present in each shelf setting? How would their geometry differ (e.g. phylloid mound vs. incised valley sandstone vs. Iowstand conglomerate)?

3) What Is the evidence for relative falls in sea level in these strata? What features or architectural elements can be explained by autogenic processes? Which features cannot be explained by autogenic processes? What does this suggest about lateral continuity and predictability of these features? Can you think of a way that we could quantify the relative changes in sea level that occurred during deposition of these strata? Figure 21 illustrates our approach (following Wilson 1967; Goldstein 1988} and the results.

Figure 21.

Measured minimum amplitudes of relative change in sea level. These amplitudes were calculated by measuring the vertical stratigraphic difference in elevation between the updif- and downward-most subaerial exposure features developed on marine strata or by measuring the depth of fluvial incision though marin strata.

Figure 21.

Measured minimum amplitudes of relative change in sea level. These amplitudes were calculated by measuring the vertical stratigraphic difference in elevation between the updif- and downward-most subaerial exposure features developed on marine strata or by measuring the depth of fluvial incision though marin strata.

4) Are the rocks lying above the high-frequency sequence boundary the same age at STOP 1 as at STOP 2 and STOP 3? If no, why not? In terms of the processes involved, propose a simple model relating relative changes in sea level to the sedimentation patterns that we just observed. Are all systems tracts and facies present in all shelf positions?

5) How might the model of cyclic-reciprocal sedimentation aid exploration or production from alluvial siliciclastic reservoirs in this system? Where might we expect thick alluvial reservoirs? Similarly, with the relative changes in sea level, how would the distribution of meteoric diagenetic features vary? Where would we predict porosity or permeability enhancement? Porosity preservation? What other factors might control these changes?

6) Our observations suggest that high-amplitude relative changes in sea level significantly influenced the stratigraphic architecture and early diagenesis of these strata. These are characteristic of global 'icehouse' climatic periods (Figure 5). How do the distribution of abnormal subaerial exposure surfaces, meteoric diagenetic features, the frequency of incised valleys and lowstand strata, and the facies successions differ from 'greenhouse' or 'transitional' periods? How might these observations and contrasts influence the manner in which you explore or produce from icehouse vs. greenhouse systems? What are some of the different play concepts that might be invoked in icehouse systems?

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Acknowledgements

We owe special thanks to all of the geologists who have worked on the stratigraphy of the Holder Formation before us, most notably James Lee Wilson, Lloyd Pray, Bob Goldstein, and their students. Many of our observations and interpretations follow theirs and provided a wealth of observations upon which we could build. We are thankful to Bob Goldstein, Bill Morgan, and Art Saller for comments on a related manuscript. Lynn Watney provided many helpful comments on Pennsylvanian stratigraphy during the course of this study. Thanks to L.J. Weber, Mike Kozar, John Mitchell, and the Carbonates section at EMURC for their assistance during planning, field work, and completion of this study.

Thanks to John Mitchell, Steve Schutter, Gordon Start, Mike Porter, and Norm Corbett who collected and interpreted data from the Sacramento Mountains (including core, well logs, and photopanoramas) as part of the Seismic to Outcrop Calibration Study (SOCS) at Exxon Production Research Company in the late 1980s. The work done by these current and former EPR/EMURC geoscientists advanced this project from the onset. Rick Weber and Tom Frantes provided support and guidance during the planning, proposal, and completion of this research.

Thanks to all of the previous participants on field trips to these stops, who always bring a fresh set of eyes and perspectivès to the outcrops.

Figures & Tables

Figure 1.

Pennsylvanian stratigraphic column and regional isopach map, southern New Mexico. Modified from Pray (1961) and Algeo et al. (1991). The narrow Pedernal shelf on which the Holder Formation was deposited was bounded to the west by a basin (the Orogrande Basin), to the east by an uplifted, basement-cored block (the Pedernal uplift).

Figure 1.

Pennsylvanian stratigraphic column and regional isopach map, southern New Mexico. Modified from Pray (1961) and Algeo et al. (1991). The narrow Pedernal shelf on which the Holder Formation was deposited was bounded to the west by a basin (the Orogrande Basin), to the east by an uplifted, basement-cored block (the Pedernal uplift).

Figure 2.

Topographic map of the Dry Canyon and Beeman Canyon stuty areas. The position of Stops 1-3 are indicated, as are the locations of EMURC (formerly EPR) measured section and research cores (EPR DC #1-3). Position of phylloid algal mounds from Wilson (1967).

Figure 2.

Topographic map of the Dry Canyon and Beeman Canyon stuty areas. The position of Stops 1-3 are indicated, as are the locations of EMURC (formerly EPR) measured section and research cores (EPR DC #1-3). Position of phylloid algal mounds from Wilson (1967).

Figure 3.

Stratigraphic setting and sequence stratigraphic terminology of Holder Formation, Sacramento Mountains, New Maxico. The upper four high-frequency were described only in the La Luz section. Comparison to previous workers' correlation schemes are indicaded. Note that Wilson's informal bed designation (e.g subAR, ED-2) are not necessarily coincident with our high-frequency sequency, due to either different correlations or pinchout of the beds. Because of this, we describe how his beds fit in our nomenclatural scheme in two different Shelf positions.

Figure 3.

Stratigraphic setting and sequence stratigraphic terminology of Holder Formation, Sacramento Mountains, New Maxico. The upper four high-frequency were described only in the La Luz section. Comparison to previous workers' correlation schemes are indicaded. Note that Wilson's informal bed designation (e.g subAR, ED-2) are not necessarily coincident with our high-frequency sequency, due to either different correlations or pinchout of the beds. Because of this, we describe how his beds fit in our nomenclatural scheme in two different Shelf positions.

Figure 4.

Previous described idealized Pennsylvanian cycles. a) Idealized shelf cycles from the Holder Formation (Wilson 1967, 1975). Wilson interpreted the grey marine shales and nodular carbonates to represent similar water depths, but that the carbonates represent a ‘clear water’ phase. He also interpreted a ‘turnaround’ in sea level reflected by the change from nodular carbonate to the overlying massive carbonate. b) Idealized cycles of the Missourian of the Midcontinent (Heckel 1989) and sequences Stratigraphic interpretation (Bissnett and Heckel 1996). In this interpretation, the ‘middle limestone’ represents transgressive deposits. The ‘core shale’ is interpreted as maximum flooding and subsequent facies represent a repaid relative fall in sea level. Porous, grainy ‘upper limestones’ comprise reservoirs in this strata.

Figure 4.

Previous described idealized Pennsylvanian cycles. a) Idealized shelf cycles from the Holder Formation (Wilson 1967, 1975). Wilson interpreted the grey marine shales and nodular carbonates to represent similar water depths, but that the carbonates represent a ‘clear water’ phase. He also interpreted a ‘turnaround’ in sea level reflected by the change from nodular carbonate to the overlying massive carbonate. b) Idealized cycles of the Missourian of the Midcontinent (Heckel 1989) and sequences Stratigraphic interpretation (Bissnett and Heckel 1996). In this interpretation, the ‘middle limestone’ represents transgressive deposits. The ‘core shale’ is interpreted as maximum flooding and subsequent facies represent a repaid relative fall in sea level. Porous, grainy ‘upper limestones’ comprise reservoirs in this strata.

Figure 5.

a) Upper Carboniferous eustatic curve and midontinent lithostratigraphic correlatives (Ross and Ross, 1988). Note the inferred high amplitudes of relative change in sea level. b) Scmetic diagram indicating contrasts in the magnitute of relative change in sea level in global greenhouse and icehouse climatic setting. The high ampliudes of change in icehouse settings have a significant influence on stratigraphic architecture and the presence/absence of subaerial exposure features (from Tucker et al. 1993).

Figure 5.

a) Upper Carboniferous eustatic curve and midontinent lithostratigraphic correlatives (Ross and Ross, 1988). Note the inferred high amplitudes of relative change in sea level. b) Scmetic diagram indicating contrasts in the magnitute of relative change in sea level in global greenhouse and icehouse climatic setting. The high ampliudes of change in icehouse settings have a significant influence on stratigraphic architecture and the presence/absence of subaerial exposure features (from Tucker et al. 1993).

Figure 6.

a) Continent-scale proximal-distal transition, Midcontinent, U.S.A. Deposits change from fluvial-deltaic dominated facies in the east (near the Appalachians) to more marine carbonate dominated in more distal areas to the west (Midcontinent). Informal terminlogy (e.g. ‘core shale’) is as indicated. Modified from Heckel (1994). b) Lateral changes within individual high-frequency sequences, Atokan and Desmoinesion of Kansas. Facies and informal nomenclature (e.g. ‘core shale’, see Figure 12) are indicated in the key. Note the updip area with mixed corbonates and siliciclastics, the mid-shelf region of predominantly carbonates, and the downdip region with corbonates and siliciclastics. Subaerial exposure surfaces extend fairly far down the shelf profile, consistent with the interpretation of high-amplitude relative changes in sea level. These changes occur across a lateral distance of ~70km. From Youle et al.(1994).

Figure 6.

a) Continent-scale proximal-distal transition, Midcontinent, U.S.A. Deposits change from fluvial-deltaic dominated facies in the east (near the Appalachians) to more marine carbonate dominated in more distal areas to the west (Midcontinent). Informal terminlogy (e.g. ‘core shale’) is as indicated. Modified from Heckel (1994). b) Lateral changes within individual high-frequency sequences, Atokan and Desmoinesion of Kansas. Facies and informal nomenclature (e.g. ‘core shale’, see Figure 12) are indicated in the key. Note the updip area with mixed corbonates and siliciclastics, the mid-shelf region of predominantly carbonates, and the downdip region with corbonates and siliciclastics. Subaerial exposure surfaces extend fairly far down the shelf profile, consistent with the interpretation of high-amplitude relative changes in sea level. These changes occur across a lateral distance of ~70km. From Youle et al.(1994).

Figure 7.

Lateral facies variations within other Pennsylvanian high-frequency sequences. Note that changes similar to those that occur across hundreds of kilometers in the other basins can be observed within only a few kilometers on the Pedernal shelf. On this trip, we will walk out these changes.

Figure 7.

Lateral facies variations within other Pennsylvanian high-frequency sequences. Note that changes similar to those that occur across hundreds of kilometers in the other basins can be observed within only a few kilometers on the Pedernal shelf. On this trip, we will walk out these changes.

Figure 8.

Facies-Marine and alluvial siliciclastics. A) Sandstone: planer to low-angle cross-bedded laminations grating up into ripple cross-laminitions, characteristic of warning flow conditions in sandstone beds. Sandstone beds interpreted as marine may also include hummocky cross-stratification and marine fossils. Hammer for scale. B) Claystone (recessive weathering) with marine carbonate (resistant weathering) interbedded at foot scale. Note that from right to left, several corbonate beds thin as interbedded shales thicken, suggesting progradation of the carbonate system across areas that were previously characterized by deposition of shale. Distance between arrows roughly 3 m. C) Fining-upward succession in sandstone interpreted as fluvial. Packages of similar fining-upwards successions commonly become thinner and finger-graned upwars. Pen for scale. D) Carbonate nodules (N) and prismatic structure (P) in interpreted paleosol. Pedogenic features not illustrated in the photo include rhizoliths, root tubules, subangular blocky structure, and pedogenic slickensides. Hammer for scale. E) Coarse conglomerate, interpreted as fluvial, that fills a channel form feature. Pencil in lower right corner for scale. F) Corase conglomerate filling in channel form that cuts into marine carbonate below. Hammer for scale. Facies-carbonates. G) Fusulinid-rich skeletal mud-lean packstone to grainstone. Phylloid algae, foraminifera, peloids, bryozoans, and small crinoids are also present. Long axis = 11 mm, H) Phylloid algal wackestone. Phylloids may occur in more muddy facies, as in this photo, or whitin more grainy, cement-rich facies. In the Holder Formation, very little depositional porosity remains due to early meteoric diagenesis (see Goldstein, 1988b, 1991). Long axis = 11 mm. I) Foraminiferarich, skeletal-peloid grainstone. Fossils also inclute an open marine fauna such as phylloids, brachiopods, fusulinids, bryozoans, and crinoids, as well as peloids and minor quartz silt. No evidence for peritidal deposition (mudcracks, fenestrae, microbial laminites, etc.) are present in this facies. Log axis = 11 mm. J) Skeletal wackestone. Grains include crinoids, minor quartz silt, bryozoans. Log axis = 2.65 mm. K) Shingles of ooid graintone. The thick, cross-bedded acretionary foresets pass laterally into more nodular and slightly argillaceous packstone. Photo from uppermost part of Beeman Formation (cf. Figure 9, section NDC 3, 8-23 feet height). Person for scale. L) Root tubules, rhizoliths, and laminated crusts on subaerisl exposure surface.

Figure 8.

Facies-Marine and alluvial siliciclastics. A) Sandstone: planer to low-angle cross-bedded laminations grating up into ripple cross-laminitions, characteristic of warning flow conditions in sandstone beds. Sandstone beds interpreted as marine may also include hummocky cross-stratification and marine fossils. Hammer for scale. B) Claystone (recessive weathering) with marine carbonate (resistant weathering) interbedded at foot scale. Note that from right to left, several corbonate beds thin as interbedded shales thicken, suggesting progradation of the carbonate system across areas that were previously characterized by deposition of shale. Distance between arrows roughly 3 m. C) Fining-upward succession in sandstone interpreted as fluvial. Packages of similar fining-upwards successions commonly become thinner and finger-graned upwars. Pen for scale. D) Carbonate nodules (N) and prismatic structure (P) in interpreted paleosol. Pedogenic features not illustrated in the photo include rhizoliths, root tubules, subangular blocky structure, and pedogenic slickensides. Hammer for scale. E) Coarse conglomerate, interpreted as fluvial, that fills a channel form feature. Pencil in lower right corner for scale. F) Corase conglomerate filling in channel form that cuts into marine carbonate below. Hammer for scale. Facies-carbonates. G) Fusulinid-rich skeletal mud-lean packstone to grainstone. Phylloid algae, foraminifera, peloids, bryozoans, and small crinoids are also present. Long axis = 11 mm, H) Phylloid algal wackestone. Phylloids may occur in more muddy facies, as in this photo, or whitin more grainy, cement-rich facies. In the Holder Formation, very little depositional porosity remains due to early meteoric diagenesis (see Goldstein, 1988b, 1991). Long axis = 11 mm. I) Foraminiferarich, skeletal-peloid grainstone. Fossils also inclute an open marine fauna such as phylloids, brachiopods, fusulinids, bryozoans, and crinoids, as well as peloids and minor quartz silt. No evidence for peritidal deposition (mudcracks, fenestrae, microbial laminites, etc.) are present in this facies. Log axis = 11 mm. J) Skeletal wackestone. Grains include crinoids, minor quartz silt, bryozoans. Log axis = 2.65 mm. K) Shingles of ooid graintone. The thick, cross-bedded acretionary foresets pass laterally into more nodular and slightly argillaceous packstone. Photo from uppermost part of Beeman Formation (cf. Figure 9, section NDC 3, 8-23 feet height). Person for scale. L) Root tubules, rhizoliths, and laminated crusts on subaerisl exposure surface.

Figure 9.

Dry Canyon cross section. The cross setion covers approximately 3-4 kilometers in an appoximate landward (east) to basinward (west) direction. Data include both outcrop and core descriptions. The La Luz anticline trends roughly perpendicular to this cross section and intersects at roughly NDC-10. Gamma ray logs are included for the cored wells.

Figure 9.

Dry Canyon cross section. The cross setion covers approximately 3-4 kilometers in an appoximate landward (east) to basinward (west) direction. Data include both outcrop and core descriptions. The La Luz anticline trends roughly perpendicular to this cross section and intersects at roughly NDC-10. Gamma ray logs are included for the cored wells.

Figure 10.

Beeman Canyon cross section. See Figure 2 for location. Data include only outcrop description Red lines represent high-frequency sequence boundaries.

Figure 10.

Beeman Canyon cross section. See Figure 2 for location. Data include only outcrop description Red lines represent high-frequency sequence boundaries.

Figure 11.

Yucca Caynon cross section. These high-frequency sequences to the east of the shelf margin (roughly the position of YC-5) contain mostly corbonate-dominaded vertical facies successions. Those HFS that are more basinward include a significant proportion of silliciclastic fasies, either alluvial or marine. Carbonate parasequences are, in general, difficult to correlate, but high-frequency sequence boundaries are easily traceable throughout the study area.

Figure 11.

Yucca Caynon cross section. These high-frequency sequences to the east of the shelf margin (roughly the position of YC-5) contain mostly corbonate-dominaded vertical facies successions. Those HFS that are more basinward include a significant proportion of silliciclastic fasies, either alluvial or marine. Carbonate parasequences are, in general, difficult to correlate, but high-frequency sequence boundaries are easily traceable throughout the study area.

Figure 12.

Schematic diagram illustrating types of vertical facies successions and their lateral relationships on a general landward-basinward transect (compare with Wilson 1967, 1975; Heckel 1977; Watney et al. 1989, 1996). Note that the internal components of the high-frequency sequence changes significantly across the shelf (Wilson 1967). The lateral distribution of different end-member types of vertical facies successions are indicated schematically and are discussed in the next.

Figure 12.

Schematic diagram illustrating types of vertical facies successions and their lateral relationships on a general landward-basinward transect (compare with Wilson 1967, 1975; Heckel 1977; Watney et al. 1989, 1996). Note that the internal components of the high-frequency sequence changes significantly across the shelf (Wilson 1967). The lateral distribution of different end-member types of vertical facies successions are indicated schematically and are discussed in the next.

Figure 13.

Schematic diagram illustrating interpreted evolution of an individual high-frequency sequence. Approximate position of Dry and Beeman Canyon transects are indicated. The LaLaz anticline plunges to the north/northwest though an area near the center of the schematic prifile. The Pedernal uplift lies to the east (the right in this figure). The amplitudes of relative changes in sea level are on the order of 30 meters or more, as discussed in the text.

a. relative low in the level, characterized by bypass and deposition of alluvial strata.

b. relative rise in sea level, accompanied by significant marine flooding and deposition of grey shale. Thih, transgressive carbonates are present in many high-frequency sequences.

c. relative high in sea level to start of relative fall in sea level, characterized by deposition of carbonate strata.

Figure 13.

Schematic diagram illustrating interpreted evolution of an individual high-frequency sequence. Approximate position of Dry and Beeman Canyon transects are indicated. The LaLaz anticline plunges to the north/northwest though an area near the center of the schematic prifile. The Pedernal uplift lies to the east (the right in this figure). The amplitudes of relative changes in sea level are on the order of 30 meters or more, as discussed in the text.

a. relative low in the level, characterized by bypass and deposition of alluvial strata.

b. relative rise in sea level, accompanied by significant marine flooding and deposition of grey shale. Thih, transgressive carbonates are present in many high-frequency sequences.

c. relative high in sea level to start of relative fall in sea level, characterized by deposition of carbonate strata.

Figure 14.

Thickness changes within and among individual high-frequency sequences. “Measured minimum amplitude” refers to the measured values of relative change in sea level. Note the broad range of thicknesses for each hogh-frequency sequence, the lack of systematic changes, and that most thickness values are less than the measured minimum amplitude of change.

Figure 14.

Thickness changes within and among individual high-frequency sequences. “Measured minimum amplitude” refers to the measured values of relative change in sea level. Note the broad range of thicknesses for each hogh-frequency sequence, the lack of systematic changes, and that most thickness values are less than the measured minimum amplitude of change.

Figure 15.

Distribution of key facies and facies associations within high-frequency sequences from the Holder Formation to surface A. The total length of the cross-section is ~3 km. Due to projection from 3D space onto the line of cross-section, there are components of along-strike variability which may appear unusual, and the spacing is somewhat arbitrary. The soild white dots represent the position of the basinward transition from thick bedded, shoal carbonate to nodular carbonate; stippled dots are the basinward position of pinchout of alluvial facies. Note that (1) the trends in lateral position of the two transitions are not coincident, and (2) the high-frequency sequences above surface H1 contain facies and facies associations that are more continuous than those below H1.

Figure 15.

Distribution of key facies and facies associations within high-frequency sequences from the Holder Formation to surface A. The total length of the cross-section is ~3 km. Due to projection from 3D space onto the line of cross-section, there are components of along-strike variability which may appear unusual, and the spacing is somewhat arbitrary. The soild white dots represent the position of the basinward transition from thick bedded, shoal carbonate to nodular carbonate; stippled dots are the basinward position of pinchout of alluvial facies. Note that (1) the trends in lateral position of the two transitions are not coincident, and (2) the high-frequency sequences above surface H1 contain facies and facies associations that are more continuous than those below H1.

Figure 16.

Outcrop photomosaics looking north along Highway 82 roadcut. A. Holder stop 1. sequence boundary “J” noted at left of photo, refer to measured seaction in Figure 18. B. Location of Holder Stops 1-3.

Figure 16.

Outcrop photomosaics looking north along Highway 82 roadcut. A. Holder stop 1. sequence boundary “J” noted at left of photo, refer to measured seaction in Figure 18. B. Location of Holder Stops 1-3.

Figure 17.

Key to standard facies, grain types, and sedimentary structures for measured setions in Figures 18-20.

Figure 17.

Key to standard facies, grain types, and sedimentary structures for measured setions in Figures 18-20.

Figure 18.

Measured section, Highway 82 Roadcut (NDC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 18.

Measured section, Highway 82 Roadcut (NDC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 19.

Measured section, Yucca Canyon (YC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 19.

Measured section, Yucca Canyon (YC-1). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequence boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 20.

Measured section, Mill Ridge (MR-2). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequences boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 20.

Measured section, Mill Ridge (MR-2). Position of interpreted high-frequency sequences boundaries are indicated in red.

Figure 21.

Measured minimum amplitudes of relative change in sea level. These amplitudes were calculated by measuring the vertical stratigraphic difference in elevation between the updif- and downward-most subaerial exposure features developed on marine strata or by measuring the depth of fluvial incision though marin strata.

Figure 21.

Measured minimum amplitudes of relative change in sea level. These amplitudes were calculated by measuring the vertical stratigraphic difference in elevation between the updif- and downward-most subaerial exposure features developed on marine strata or by measuring the depth of fluvial incision though marin strata.

TABLE 1

Lithofacies Summary, Holder Formation (Virgilian, Pennsylvanian), Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico

namecontacts & assoc. faciescomponent grainssedimentary structures/beddinginterpretation
phylloid algal/skeletal wackestone, packstone, and boundstonegradational lower, commonly sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p/g
leopard rock
major: phylloid algae
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cement
massive to wavy bedding
large scale accretionary foresets as flank beds (R)
shelter pores (C), laminated internal sediment (C)
commonly grades upwards to more diverse fauna with more bioclastic debris
subwave-base to wave influenced open marine subtidal
'leopard rock' boundstonesharp lower, sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p
phylloid algal facies
fossiliferous grey clay-siltstone
major: encrusting foraminiferids, cement, cyanobacteria
minor: brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans
bulbous hemispheroids, commonly with digitate internal morphology, up to 3′ × 3′
some layers continuous across several 100 m, one leopard rock horizon continuous across >5 km
skeletal-peloidal packstone fill between heads
common in lows laterally equivalent to mounds
subwave base open marine subtidal
commonly flooding units
oncoid-skeletal wackestone and packstonesharp to gradational lower commonly gradational upper
nodular skeletal w/p, phylloid w/p
syringoporid heads
major: oncoids, encrusting foraminiferids
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cephalopods
burrows
nodular bedded (A)
argillaceous seams
deeper subtidal open marine
fusulinid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational lower from siltstone gradational upper to massive peloid and skeletal w/p/gmajor: fusulinids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, bivalves, bryozoans, gastropods, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (A) to thick (C) bedded
argillaceous (C) or with thin clay to fine silt seams (C)
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
subtidal open marine
skeletal-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, peloid-skeletal w/p/gmajor: diverse assemblage of skeletal debris, including: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, trilobites, pin shells, foraminiferids, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, echinoids, peloids, syringoporid corals
minor: quartz silt to sand, coated grains, fenestrate and ramose bryozoans, ostracods, Osagia, encrusting forams
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
planar-tabular cross laminations (6″-2′) (R)
parallel and wavy laminations (C)
Bellerophontid gastropods common at tops of some units (C)
subtidal open marine
peloid-skeletal wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: peloids, skeletal grains, incl: fusulinids, bryozoans, crinoids, echinoids foraminiferids, gastropods, bivalves, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae,
minor: trilobites, ostracods, quartz silt, brachiopods, ooids, echinoids
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
distinct burrows to bioturbated (C)
coarsen-upwards trend (R)
trough and planar-tabular cross-laminations (R)
subtidal open marine
foraminiferid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: foraminiferids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, fusulinids, bivalves bryozoans, gastropods, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (R) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (A)
grainstone trough to low-angle cross-laminations
subtidal open marine
ooid-skeletal packstone to grainstonegradational lower from siltstone
gradational to sharp upper to phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/g
major: ooids
minor: crinoids, brachiopods, peloids foraminiferids, quartz sand, bivalves, fusulinids
thin to thick bedded
large-scale (up to 8′) accretionary foresets (R)
coarse-fine laminations (C), fining-upwards (C)
trough to planar-tabular cross-laminations (C)
above wave-base subtidal open marine
laminated crustsharp upper contact
sharp to gradational lower contact
commonly developed on facies with open marine fauna
enclosed skeletal grainswavy laminations (A), autoclastic breccia (C)
rhizoliths (C), root tubules (A) w/drab halos
thin (<0.5″) to thick bedded
sheet cracks (C), circumgran. cracks (C)
subaerial exposure/paleosol
grey claystone to siltstone with fossilsgradational lower from red siltstone, sharp lower from laminated crust, gradational to sharp upper to peloid-skel w/p/b, fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gminor: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, ostracodes, fenestrate bryozoans, plant fragments Orbiculoidesplaty to fissile bedding (A), thin bedded parallel laminations (A) , ripples (<2 “amp.) (R) fewer fossils, more plant fragments upwards in many units
coarsen-upwards trend over 5-20' (C)
deeper marine; prodelta to delta front
siltstone to sandstonesharp to gradational base with grey or green clay-siltstone (with fossils); interbedded with claystone to siltstone
sharp to gradational upper, into marine carbonate or fossiliferous clay-siltstone
subarkosic to arkosic arenite (poorly to moderately sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to m. sand; Q,B,M,C,F, fusulinids, brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids; matrix may also be calcareousplanar-tabular cross-laminations (up to 3') (A) hummocky cross-laminations (R), in some sandstone units;
upward transitions from planar beds to ripples wave and current ripple cross-laminae (<1”) (C);
couplets of massive to rippled to planar laminae are present in some silty layers within shales
shallow marine, delta front
red claystone to siltstone nonfossiliferoussharp upper, overlain by skeletal and peloid w/p/g or green shale;
sharp to gradational lower
well-to poorly sorted clay to c. silt; quartz, feldspars, micas,platy (R) and subangular blocky (A) structure, argillans (C), rhizotubules (A), rhizoliths, circumgran. cracks (C) carbonate glaebules (R to A)subaerial exposure/paleosol; possibly alluvial
sandstone conglomeratesharp, commonly erosional base incising into red claystone/siltstone or, less commonly, marine carbonate with subaerial exposure at top
sharp to gradational upper, possibly fining-upwards to red clay-siltstone
matrix: arkosic arenite (poorly sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to c. sand; Q,B,M,C,F
clasts: well-rounded, poorly sorted; include carbonate, chert, quartzite; up to 5 cm diameter
trough cross-laminations (up to 3') (A)
fining upward trough sets (C)
current ripple cross-laminae (<1 “) (C);
locally significant incision (up to 52' )(R)
gutter casts (R); plant fragments (A)
clast supported (C)
fluvial
namecontacts & assoc. faciescomponent grainssedimentary structures/beddinginterpretation
phylloid algal/skeletal wackestone, packstone, and boundstonegradational lower, commonly sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p/g
leopard rock
major: phylloid algae
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cement
massive to wavy bedding
large scale accretionary foresets as flank beds (R)
shelter pores (C), laminated internal sediment (C)
commonly grades upwards to more diverse fauna with more bioclastic debris
subwave-base to wave influenced open marine subtidal
'leopard rock' boundstonesharp lower, sharp upper
nodular skeletal-peloid w/p
phylloid algal facies
fossiliferous grey clay-siltstone
major: encrusting foraminiferids, cement, cyanobacteria
minor: brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans
bulbous hemispheroids, commonly with digitate internal morphology, up to 3′ × 3′
some layers continuous across several 100 m, one leopard rock horizon continuous across >5 km
skeletal-peloidal packstone fill between heads
common in lows laterally equivalent to mounds
subwave base open marine subtidal
commonly flooding units
oncoid-skeletal wackestone and packstonesharp to gradational lower commonly gradational upper
nodular skeletal w/p, phylloid w/p
syringoporid heads
major: oncoids, encrusting foraminiferids
minor: foraminiferids, brachiopods, crinoids, bryozoans, rugose corals, echinoid spines, peloids, cephalopods
burrows
nodular bedded (A)
argillaceous seams
deeper subtidal open marine
fusulinid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational lower from siltstone gradational upper to massive peloid and skeletal w/p/gmajor: fusulinids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, bivalves, bryozoans, gastropods, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (A) to thick (C) bedded
argillaceous (C) or with thin clay to fine silt seams (C)
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
subtidal open marine
skeletal-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, peloid-skeletal w/p/gmajor: diverse assemblage of skeletal debris, including: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, trilobites, pin shells, foraminiferids, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, echinoids, peloids, syringoporid corals
minor: quartz silt to sand, coated grains, fenestrate and ramose bryozoans, ostracods, Osagia, encrusting forams
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
planar-tabular cross laminations (6″-2′) (R)
parallel and wavy laminations (C)
Bellerophontid gastropods common at tops of some units (C)
subtidal open marine
peloid-skeletal wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, foram-fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: peloids, skeletal grains, incl: fusulinids, bryozoans, crinoids, echinoids foraminiferids, gastropods, bivalves, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae,
minor: trilobites, ostracods, quartz silt, brachiopods, ooids, echinoids
thin, nodular (C) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (C)
distinct burrows to bioturbated (C)
coarsen-upwards trend (R)
trough and planar-tabular cross-laminations (R)
subtidal open marine
foraminiferid-peloid wackestone, packstone, and grainstonegradational to sharp lower and upper to or from phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gmajor: foraminiferids, peloids
minor: brachiopods, fusulinids, bivalves bryozoans, gastropods, dasycladacean algae, phylloid algae, crinoids, quartz silt
thin, nodular (R) to thick (A) bedded
parallel to wavy laminated (A)
grainstone trough to low-angle cross-laminations
subtidal open marine
ooid-skeletal packstone to grainstonegradational lower from siltstone
gradational to sharp upper to phylloid w/p/b, fiisulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/g
major: ooids
minor: crinoids, brachiopods, peloids foraminiferids, quartz sand, bivalves, fusulinids
thin to thick bedded
large-scale (up to 8′) accretionary foresets (R)
coarse-fine laminations (C), fining-upwards (C)
trough to planar-tabular cross-laminations (C)
above wave-base subtidal open marine
laminated crustsharp upper contact
sharp to gradational lower contact
commonly developed on facies with open marine fauna
enclosed skeletal grainswavy laminations (A), autoclastic breccia (C)
rhizoliths (C), root tubules (A) w/drab halos
thin (<0.5″) to thick bedded
sheet cracks (C), circumgran. cracks (C)
subaerial exposure/paleosol
grey claystone to siltstone with fossilsgradational lower from red siltstone, sharp lower from laminated crust, gradational to sharp upper to peloid-skel w/p/b, fusulinid w/p/g, skeletal -peloid w/p/gminor: brachiopods, fusulinids, gastropods, bivalves, ostracodes, fenestrate bryozoans, plant fragments Orbiculoidesplaty to fissile bedding (A), thin bedded parallel laminations (A) , ripples (<2 “amp.) (R) fewer fossils, more plant fragments upwards in many units
coarsen-upwards trend over 5-20' (C)
deeper marine; prodelta to delta front
siltstone to sandstonesharp to gradational base with grey or green clay-siltstone (with fossils); interbedded with claystone to siltstone
sharp to gradational upper, into marine carbonate or fossiliferous clay-siltstone
subarkosic to arkosic arenite (poorly to moderately sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to m. sand; Q,B,M,C,F, fusulinids, brachiopods, bivalves, crinoids; matrix may also be calcareousplanar-tabular cross-laminations (up to 3') (A) hummocky cross-laminations (R), in some sandstone units;
upward transitions from planar beds to ripples wave and current ripple cross-laminae (<1”) (C);
couplets of massive to rippled to planar laminae are present in some silty layers within shales
shallow marine, delta front
red claystone to siltstone nonfossiliferoussharp upper, overlain by skeletal and peloid w/p/g or green shale;
sharp to gradational lower
well-to poorly sorted clay to c. silt; quartz, feldspars, micas,platy (R) and subangular blocky (A) structure, argillans (C), rhizotubules (A), rhizoliths, circumgran. cracks (C) carbonate glaebules (R to A)subaerial exposure/paleosol; possibly alluvial
sandstone conglomeratesharp, commonly erosional base incising into red claystone/siltstone or, less commonly, marine carbonate with subaerial exposure at top
sharp to gradational upper, possibly fining-upwards to red clay-siltstone
matrix: arkosic arenite (poorly sorted, subangular to subrounded); f. silt to c. sand; Q,B,M,C,F
clasts: well-rounded, poorly sorted; include carbonate, chert, quartzite; up to 5 cm diameter
trough cross-laminations (up to 3') (A)
fining upward trough sets (C)
current ripple cross-laminae (<1 “) (C);
locally significant incision (up to 52' )(R)
gutter casts (R); plant fragments (A)
clast supported (C)
fluvial

In Contacts and Associated Fades column: m = mudstone; w = wackestone; p = packstone; g = grainstone; b = boundstone

In Component Grains column: Q = quartz; B = biotite; M = muscovite; C = chlorite; F = feldspar

In Sedimentary Structures/Bedding column: R = rare; C = common; A = abundant

Contents

GeoRef

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