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Geomorphic controls on sedimentation in Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, eastern Great Basin

By
Charles G. (Jack) Oviatt
Charles G. (Jack) Oviatt
Department of Geology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66056, USA
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15 November 201720 April 2018

ABSTRACT

The most common and widespread sedimentary facies of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, in the eastern Great Basin of North America, is marl, which consists of a mixture of fine-grained endogenic calcium carbonate that precipitated in the epilimnion of the lake and then settled onto the lake floor and mixed with fine-grained clastic sediments. Primary sources of clastic sediment were inflowing rivers, wave activity in shore zones, and ice rafting. The thickness of deposits in cores and outcrops is largely dependent on the proportion of clastic sediment, although the rate of endogenic calcium carbonate precipitation probably also varied temporally and spatially. Net sediment-accumulation rate in the marl, as measured in outcrops and cores, ranges from a low of 4 cm/1000 yr, in the middle of the lake basin far from sources of clastic input, to over 100 cm/1000 yr near clastic-sediment sources.

Underflow deposits, derived from higher-density river water loaded with suspended sediment, are thick and extensive near the mouths of major rivers that drained glaciated mountains. Net sediment-accumulation rates in suspended-load underflow deposits were much greater than those in contemporaneously deposited marl. The largest underflow-sediment accumulations, which have a fan shape in plan view, have been referred to as deltas (as at the mouths of the Sevier, Provo, Weber, and Bear Rivers). True Gilbert-type deltas composed of gravel, with topset, foreset, and bottomset beds, are uncommon in the basin.

Variability in the sedimentary characteristics of the Bonneville deposits is determined by geomorphic factors, such as wave energy, composition of surficial material in the shore zone (e.g., resistant bedrock vs. unconsolidated alluvium), slope, and proximity to river mouths and active shore zones.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

From Saline to Freshwater: The Diversity of Western Lakes in Space and Time

Geological Society of America
Volume
536
ISBN electronic:
9780813795362

GeoRef

References

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