Abstract

The Lower Siwalik, Chinji Formation (Late Miocene) of the Chinji Village area, northern Pakistan has provided remarkable material for the study of terrestrial fossil faunas, magnetic reversal stratigraphy and fluvial sedimentology. This paper considers patterns in the sedimentary stratigraphy, using magnetic reversals to constrain the time framework, and focusing on an intermediate (kilometre) horizontal length-scale. The project aimed to determine the architecture and time relationships of the channel sandstone bodies in a panel 300 m in stratigraphic thickness, and 11 km in horizontal length (along stratigraphic strike). This panel (the 1990 Fence) trends at a high angle to the flow direction of the Late Miocene river channels, and represents about 2 Ma of sediment accumulation. There is a continuous range in thickness of the sandstone bodies, but they can be usefully classified into (i) microbodies, (ii) minor sheets, (iii) thin mega-sheets and (iv) thick mega-sheets. The microbodies are probably mainly marginal features of the thicker bodies. The minor sheets were formed by small river channels, and the mega-sheets were formed as the deposits of the largest, generally braided, channel belts. Two aspects of the intermediate length-scale architecture of the Chinji Formation are analysed: (1) the presence in the Fence of three thick mega-sheets separated by two mudstone-dominated intervals that lasted for about 0.5 and 1.0 Ma, respectively and (2) the abrupt upwards increase in sandstone/mudstone proportions that defines the upper stratigraphic boundary of the Chinji Formation. We suggest that each of the three thick mega-sheet episodes resulted from avulsions into the area of large-channel belt complexes that formed central features of the Chinji river network and were each constrained by scarps or valley-side slopes during episodes of net deposition that lasted for about 100 ka, and may have resulted from climate and/or sea-level changes. The regional upward change from mudstone- to sandstone-domination at the top of the Chinji Formation resulted from a similar, but one-off, and more widespread, change in plan-view style of the river network, produced either by tectonic change in the mountain source area, or by climatic change.

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