Abstract

The Iles Clastic Wedge is a 500 m thick, 3 My duration, third-order sequence that built out eastward in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. The wedge also contains high-frequency regressive-to-transgressive sequences that are irregularly stacked in a basinward-stepping pattern (lower limb) and in a landward-stepping pattern (upper limb). The entire wedge and the component cycles were analyzed in terms of vertically monitored sandstone-mudstone proportion, thickness, and facies distribution. The measured profiles through the Iles Clastic Wedge form a 300 km long, source-to-sink transect from southeast Rock Springs uplift, Wyoming to Kremmling, Colorado. The sandstone proportion in the entire wedge (and also in the basinward-stepping half of the wedge) attains a maximum in the proximal reaches (fluvial and tidal-fluvial/estuarine channels) of the study transect and decreases unsteadily toward the medial and distal zone. A slight secondary increase in sand proportion also appears irregularly in the medial shoreline zone. On the other hand, the sandstone proportion in the landward-stepping half of the wedge reaches a maximum in the medial (tidal-fluvial and estuarine channels and delta-front) to distal zone (basinal regressive delta) of the wedge and decreases slightly sourceward. Along individual fourth-order sequences, the sandstones and mudstones indicate a more nuanced partitioning, with three marked sandstone maxima (proximal, medial, and distal zones), separated by zones with abundant mudstone. These sandstone peaks are produced by the presence of fluvial and tidal-fluvial/estuarine channel sandstones in the most proximal zone, delta front/shoreface in the medial reaches, and basinal regressive delta front in the distal zone. The mudstone peaks represent the muddy, coal-bearing coastal plain and the prodelta area. This accentuated sandstone and mudstone partitioning at shorter time scales (few 100 Ky) becomes blurred at the longer time scale (3 My) because of the progressive basinward, then landward, offset of successive high-frequency sequences that form the larger clastic wedge.

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