Abstract

Facies analysis of the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) Ferron Sandstone in the western Henry Mountains of south-central Utah, U.S.A., indicates sediment accumulation in a series of flood-dominated, marine current- and wave-influenced, deltas. Twelve lithofacies are recognized: 1. erosionally based, thick cross-bedded sandstone bodies (Distributary Channels), 2. similar though thinner bodies containing common bioturbation (Marine-Influenced Distributary Channels), 3. root-penetrated, plant fossil bearing siltstone with minor sandstone (Coastal Floodplain and Floodbasin), 4. coal and carbonaceous shale (Coastal Mire), 5. thin-bedded, carbonaceous and bioturbated sandstone–siltstone (Coastal Lagoon), 6. erosionally based sandstone with large- and small-scale cross-bedding and bioturbation (Mouth-Bar Complex), 7. sharply based sandstone bodies internally dominated by hummocky cross-stratification, soft-sediment deformation, or lacking structure (Proximal Delta Front), 8. sharply bounded, calcareous, fossiliferous and bioturbated sandstone sheets (Abandoned Delta Lobe), 9. thickly interbedded sandstone, coarse- and fine-grained siltstone (Medial Delta Front), 10. thinly interbedded sandstone, coarse- and fine-grained siltstone (Distal Delta Front), 11. mainly siltstone with minor thin-bedded sandstone (Prodelta) and 12. fine-grained siltstone with bentonite beds (Offshore).

Deltas prograded into shallow water, forming sharp-based mouth-bar sand bodies. The upper delta front was evidently fluidal and prone to failure, leading to the development of rotational slope failures, debris–flow filled gullies, and, in places, growth faults. Paleocurrent data indicate that the regional sediment dispersal direction was eastward. Data from delta-front facies, however, suggest that outflow plumes and associated bottom currents were deflected towards the southeast, giving rise to an asymmetric delta planform. The Holocene and modern Burdekin River Delta of NE Australia is considered a close planform, process, and facies analog for the Ferron Notom deltas. The Burdekin Delta facies assemblage is vertically and laterally heterogeneous, despite being the product of a consistent array of environmental controls. Adopting a model that incorporates such a degree of heterogeneity negates the need for multiple depositional models for complex stratigraphic intervals such as the Ferron Sandstone. The facies model also suggests that asymmetric deltas may be produced by directional growth of delta lobes, rather than by deflection of beach ridges. Stratigraphic stacking patterns strongly suggest that sediment accumulation in the Ferron Sandstone of the western Henry Mountains was forced by a regime of progressively more limited accommodation through time.

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