Abstract: 

During forced regression, the coastline advances seaward irrespective of sediment supply and relocates to a topographically lower position. Forced-regressive deposits are a component of the falling-stage systems tract. They are recognized by a basal unconformity which records erosion during the seaward facies shift, and are in turn capped by another unconformity due to subaerial exposure or wave ravinement during subsequent transgression. In wave-dominated settings, the basal “regressive surface of marine erosion” is a scoured surface cut by wave action, because erosion is needed to maintain the seaward-sloping bathymetric profile in equilibrium with the wave energy. The response to falling sea level in tide-dominated settings has not been as thoroughly discussed. The stratal architecture of the Lower Cambrian Gog Group of the southern Canadian Rocky Mountains reveals a new mechanism for the formation of this surface landward of the lever point of balance between sedimentation and erosion in the subtidal environment. Subtidal parasequences of the Lake O'Hara Member are typically composed of thin-bedded mudstone and ripple cross-laminated sandstone, followed by Skolithos pipe rock and thin- to medium-bedded cross-stratified sandstone overlain by thick-bedded cross-stratified sandstone. However, at the top of the Lake O'Hara Member, an erosional surface truncates a pipe-rock interval and the expected capping cross-stratified sandstones are absent. Overlying this surface, the Lake Oesa Member comprises tidal-flat deposits composed mainly of thinly interbedded mudstone and sandstone. This jump in facies at the erosional surface can be explained as a response to a fall in sea level. As the shoreline is forced to regress, the laterally continuous tidal flats advance and the pre-existing shallow-subtidal compound dunes are scoured by strong tidal currents, along with waves, that gradually carve a new equilibrium profile. We argue that the accretion of intertidal flats on top of subtidal sands is an overlooked yet predictable component of falling-stage systems tracts in tide-dominated settings.

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