Abstract

High-resolution sequence stratigraphy provides a framework to interpret unconformity-bounded depositional sequences in the stream-dominated Kings River alluvial fan, located near Fresno, California. Depositional units in the fan are analogous to systems tracts described from marine deposits. Fan sequences reflect changes in accumulation space (Blum and Törnqvist 2000) associated with Pleistocene glacial cycles in the Sierra Nevada and preservation space created by tectonic subsidence in the San Joaquin basin. Adjustments in accumulation space are driven by changes in the ratio of sediment supply to discharge during glacial advances and retreats. At the end of glacial periods and the beginning of interglacial periods, declines in the ratio of sediment supply to discharge led to fan incision, a basinward shift in the fan intersection point, and loss of accumulation space. In mid- and upper-fan settings, incised valleys and laterally extensive, moderately mature paleosols formed, marking the unconformable base of the depositional sequence. Throughout the interglacial period, relatively low accumulation space existed and deposition was confined to the distal areas of the fan. Rapid aggradation and, thus, accumulation space increase, in response to increased sediment supply during the next glacial event initially filled the incised valley with a fining-upward succession of relatively coarse-grained channel and overbank deposits that contain rare, immature paleosols. Upon filling of the incised valley, the intersection point stabilized near the fan apex. This led to unconfined, open-fan deposition, indicating that widespread accumulation space was available across most of the fan surface. These high-accumulation-space units consist of fluvial deposits from multiple, large glacial outwash channels that radiated outward from the proximally located intersection point. Sequence boundaries and units associated with accumulation-space cycles can be used to understand and predict facies distributions and stratigraphic packaging within glacially influenced fans similar to the Kings River alluvial fan.

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