Abstract

Tectonic forcing of stratigraphic architecture is likely in foreland basins. Tectonic driving forces are increasingly being invoked to explain stratigraphic patterns in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway Basin of North America, yet the evidence is largely circumstantial, and the details of driving forces remain elusive. In this paper I show direct stratigraphic evidence for syndepositional growth of a structural arch with at least 50 m of relief during accumulation of the upper Turonian Ferron Sandstone in south-central Utah, United States. Progressive growth of the arch was superimposed on several high-frequency stratal cycles that were driven by a more regionally extensive process (geodynamic or eustatic) and that produced laterally amalgamated sandstone bodies in a depositional strike-parallel orientation (north-south). All of this stratigraphy was then truncated by a more or less planar erosion surface (sequence boundary) that can be traced physically over at least 67 km north-south. This surface was later tilted northward, such that the upper member of the Ferron Sandstone thins progressively southward from 50 to 10 m over 67 km. The facies juxtapositions revealed by the Ferron Sandstone could, if seen in exposure of limited lateral extent, be wrongly interpreted as recording regionally extensive relative sea-level drops and potentially used in error as evidence for substantial eustatic sea-level falls during the Turonian. The folding and tilting documented in this study can be clearly attributed to geodynamic and/or tectonic driving forces, likely related to migration of a forebulge.

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