Abstract

Pilot Valley, located in the eastern Basin and Range, Western Utah, USA, contains numerous shorelines and depositional remnants of Late Pleistocene Lake Bonneville. These remnants present excellent ground-penetrating radar (GPR) targets due to their coherent stratification, low-clay, low-salinity, and low moisture content. Three-dimensional GPR imaging can resolve fine-scale stratigraphy of these deposits down to a few centimeters, and when combined with detailed outcrop characterization, it provides an in-depth look at the architecture of these deposits. On the western side of Pilot Valley, a well-preserved late Pleistocene gravel bar records shoreline depositional processes associated with the Provo (or just post-Provo) shoreline period. GPR data, measured stratigraphic sections, cores, paleontological sampling for paleoecology and radiocarbon dating, and mineralogical analysis permit a detailed reconstruction of the depositional environment of this well-exposed prograding gravel bar. Contrary to other described Bonneville shoreline deposits, calibrated radiocarbon ages ranging from 16.5 to 14.3 (ka, BP) indicate that the bar was stable and active during an overall regressive stage of the lake, as it dropped from the Provo shoreline (or just post-Provo level). Our study provides a model for an ancient pluvial lakeshore depositional environment in the Basin and Range province and suggests that stable, progradational bedforms common to the various stages of Lake Bonneville are likely not all associated with periods of shoreline stability, as is commonly assumed. The high-resolution GPR visualization demonstrates the high degree of compartmentalization possible for a potential subsurface reservoir target based on ancient shoreline sedimentary facies.

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