Abstract

Pb isotopic data from K-feldspars in Middle Triassic (Anisian) sandstones in the Wessex Basin, onshore SW UK, and the East Irish Sea Basin, some 350 km to the north, show that the same grain populations are present. This indicates that the drainage system (the ‘Budleighensis’ river) feeding these basins originated from the same source/s, most probably the remnant Variscan uplands to the south. Fluvial and aeolian sandstones have the same provenance, suggesting that if water- and wind-driven sands were originally derived from different sources, this has been obscured through reworking prior to final deposition. Significant recycling of feldspar from arkosic sandstones in earlier sedimentary basins can be ruled out. The provenance data agree with previous depositional models, indicating transport distances in excess of 400 km, with a drainage pattern that linked separate basins. This supports the idea that the regional fluvial system was driven by topography and episodic flooding events of sufficient magnitude to overcome evaporation and infiltration over hundreds of kilometres. Importantly, this drainage system appears to have been isolated and independent from those operating contemporaneously to the NW of the Irish and Scottish massifs, where the remnant Variscan uplands apparently exerted no influence on drainage or sand supply.

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