Abstract

Gypsum-bearing growth strata and sedimentary facies of the Moenkopi Formation on the crest and NE flank of the Castle Valley salt wall in the Paradox Basin record salt rise, evaporite exposure, and salt-withdrawal subsidence during the Early Triassic. Detrital gypsum and dolomite clasts derived from the middle Pennsylvanian Paradox Formation were deposited in strata within a few kilometers of the salt wall and indicate that salt rise rates roughly balanced sediment accumulation, resulting in long-term exposure of mobile evaporite. Deposition took place primarily in flood-basin or inland sabkha settings that alternated between shallow subaqueous and subaerial conditions in a hyperarid climate. Matrix-supported and clast-supported conglomerates with gypsum fragments represent debris-flow deposits and reworked debris-flow deposits, respectively, interbedded with flood-basin sandstone and siltstone during development of diapiric topography. Mudstone-rich flood-basin deposits with numerous stage I to III gypsic paleosols capped by eolian gypsum sand sheets accumulated during waning salt-withdrawal subsidence. Association of detrital gypsum, eolian gypsum, and gypsic paleosols suggests that the salt wall provided a common source for gypsum in the surrounding strata. This study documents a previously unrecognized salt weld with associated growth strata containing diapir-derived detritus and gypsic palesols that can be used to interpret halokinesis.

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