Abstract

Cores from a Mississippi outer-fan depositional lobe demonstrate that sublobes at the distal edge contain a complex local network of channelized-turbidite beds of graded sand and debris-flow beds of chaotic silt. Off-lobe basin plains lack siliciclastic coarse-grained beds. The basin-plain mud facies exhibit low acoustic backscatter on SeaMARC IA sidescan sonar images, whereas high acoustic backscatter characteristic of the lobe sand and silt facies. The depth of the first sand-silt layer correlates with relative backscatter intensity and stratigraphic age of the distal sublobes (i.e., shallowest sand = highest backscatter and youngest sublobe). The high proportion (>50%) of chaotic silt compared to graded sand in the distal, outer-fan sublobes may be related to the unstable, muddy, canyon-wall source areas of the extensive Mississippi delta-fed basin slope. A predominace of chaotic silt in cores or outcrops from outer-fan lobes thus may predict similar settings for ancient fans.

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