Abstract

Fluvial discharge fluctuations are a fundamental characteristic of almost all modern rivers and can produce distinctive deposits that are rarely described from ancient fluvial or mixed-energy successions. Large-scale outcrops from the Middle Jurassic Lajas Formation (Argentina) expose a well-constrained stratigraphic succession of marginal-marine deposits with a strong fluvial influence and well-known tidal indicators. The studied deposits show decimetre-scale interbedding of coarser- and finer-grained facies with mixed fluvial and tidal affinities. The alternation of these two types of beds forms non-cyclic successions that are interpreted to be the result of seasonal variation in river discharge, rather than regular and predictable changes in current velocity caused by tides. Seasonal bedding is present in bar deposits that form within or at the mouth of minor and major channels. Seasonal bedding is not preserved in channel thalweg deposits, where river flood processes were too powerful, or in floodplain, muddy interdistributary-bay, prodelta and transgressive deposits, where the river signal was weak and sporadic. The identification of sedimentary facies characteristic of seasonal river discharge variations is important for accurate interpretation of ancient deltaic process regime.

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