Sediment transport and distribution are the keys to understanding slope-building processes in mixed carbonate-siliciclastic sediment routing systems. The Permian Bone Spring Formation, Delaware Basin, west Texas, is such a mixed system and has been extensively studied in its distal (basinal) extent but is poorly constrained in its proximal upper-slope segment. Here, we define the stratigraphic architecture of proximal outcrops in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in order to delineate the shelf-slope dynamics of carbonate and siliciclastic sediment distribution and delivery to the basin. Upper-slope deposits are predominantly fine-grained carbonate lithologies, interbedded at various scales with terrigenous (i.e., siliciclastic and clay) hemipelagic and gravity-flow deposits. We identify ten slope-building clinothems varying from terrigenous-rich to carbonate-rich and truncated by slope detachment surfaces that record large-scale mass wasting of the shelf margin. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) data indicate that slope detachment surfaces contain elevated proportions of terrigenous sediment, suggesting that failure is triggered by changes in accommodation or sediment supply at the shelf margin. A well-exposed terrigenous-rich clinothem, identified here as the 1st Bone Spring Sand, provides evidence that carbonate and terrigenous sediments were deposited contemporaneously, suggesting that both autogenic and allogenic processes influenced sediment accumulation. The mixing of lithologies at multiple scales and the prevalence of mass wasting acted as primary controls on the stacking patterns of terrigenous and carbonate lithologies of the Bone Spring Formation, not only on the shelf margin and upper slope, but also in the distal, basinal deposits of the Delaware Basin.
Progradational slope architecture and sediment distribution in outcrops of the mixed carbonate-siliciclastic Bone Spring Formation, Permian Basin, west Texas
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Wylie Walker, Zane R. Jobe, J.F. Sarg, Lesli Wood; Progradational slope architecture and sediment distribution in outcrops of the mixed carbonate-siliciclastic Bone Spring Formation, Permian Basin, west Texas. Geosphere 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02355.1
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