Recognition of glacial influence in Neoproterozoic sedimentary successions
Emmanuelle Arnaud, James L. Etienne, 2011. "Recognition of glacial influence in Neoproterozoic sedimentary successions", The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Emmanuelle Arnaud, Galen P. Halverson, Graham Shields-Zhou
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This chapter provides an overview and key references of glacial processes and resulting sedimentary products in subglacial, terrestrial proglacial and glaciomarine or glaciolacustrine settings. These settings are characterized by a wide variety of processes ranging from subglacial lodgement and deformation, ice-push and sediment remobilization, which in turn result in a wide range of products such as diamictite, conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone and mudstone. The sedimentary record of proglacial settings exhibits the most lateral and vertical variability due to the dynamic nature of ice margins and the most direct record of climatic fluctuations. Many Neoproterozoic successions, however, preserve glaciomarine deposits that can provide a more continuous and high-resolution (though indirect) record of change. This chapter will enable the reader to identify features that may be used to infer a glacial influence on the formation of ancient deposits. The chapter also outlines some of the important issues that require consideration when evaluating palaeoclimatic models for Neoproterozoic sedimentary successions. These include the equivocal significance of most commonly used proxies such as occurrence of diamictite, outsized clasts in laminated sediments, clast characteristics, lithostratigraphic trends and sequence boundaries. Careful analysis of multiple lines of sedimentary evidence, together with other proxies of climatic changes, can yield meaningful reconstructions and provide a basis for testing palaeoclimate models for this time period. A summary table outlining the characteristics of diamictite with different depositional origins is also included in order to assist with the interpretation of the Neoproterozoic sedimentary record.