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The Kayenta Formation, Warner Valley, Utah, shows lateral and vertical clustering of mud-delta propagating-channel sand bodies within a matrix of fine-grained open-lake deposits and further provides opportunity to develop a fluvio-deltaic depositional-process model. Clustering due to nonrandom stream avulsion is well documented for high-accommodation fluvial systems operating in alluvial plains but not well established for lacustrine systems with abundant fluvio-deltaic lobes. Kayenta Formation delta lobes have similar spatial clustering to those observed in fluvial channel belts and possibly extend this clustering concept to fluvio-lacustrine systems. Lithofacies were mapped on three large photo panoramas, and architectural-element analysis was used to identify bounding surfaces of fluvial channel-deltaic lobes. Fluvio-lacustrine delta lobes reflect linear channels that propagate across mud deltas with negligible bifurcation and generate fluvial channel belts incised into lake mudstone. Channels are associated with thin sand sheets or “blow-out wings” that extend multiple channel widths from the channel and cover levee and mud-delta deposits, but delta-front sand beds are absent. The stages of evolution for these propagating channels is preserved in the variation of channel-lobe architecture and reflects mud-delta propagation at the mouth of each channel in the absence of delta-front sand. Sand is outpaced by mud in the ever-lengthening channel, which reduces sand at the channel mouth and diminishes necessity for channel bifurcation. The resulting deposit is thus a frontal mud-delta lobe bisected by a later single sandy channel belt with lateral sand wings. Statistical analysis of these channel belts shows clustering. Clustering of fluvial bodies within shallow lakes is significant in predictive reservoir models because it improves connectivity and localization of delta-lobe reservoirs. The clustering of delta lobes in fluvio-lacustrine systems is theorized to reflect the preferential channel avulsion centered on the axis of the primary channel feeding into the lake and preferential avulsion fairways of feeder channels. Both the segregation of sand and mud though channel lengthening and the clustering are explainable in fully autocyclic terms. The needed allocyclic driver to trigger these fluvio-lacustrine processesis an accommodation rate sufficiently low compared with lake filling rate as to maintain shallow-water conditions across the lake system through multiple generations of channel propagation.

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