Abstract: 

Upper Cretaceous (Santonian to late Campanian) strata from the upper 196 m at Shivugak Bluffs along the Colville River of northern Alaska preserve a paleopolar, fluvial–deltaic succession deposited along a prograding paleo–Arctic Ocean coastline. The uppermost lower Schrader Bluff Formation is best classified as a river-dominated delta based on muddy prodelta and delta-front deposits that contain abundant hyperpycnites, subaqueous terminal distributary channels, interdistributary bays, and mouth bars. This deltaic succession is overlain by distal distributaries and a braided fluvial system of the Prince Creek Formation. Channel measurements and paleo-discharge calculations from Prince Creek Formation distributaries indicate that rivers were the appropriate size and had the appropriate discharge to regularly produce hyperpycnites. Delta front and interdistributary bays transitioned into lakes and floodbasins on the lower delta plain, alongside distributary channels during delta lobe reorganization and abandonment. These floodbasins were subsequently transgressed and are overlain by proximal shelf and prodelta muds containing Phycosiphon. Overlying strata containing delta front, interdistributary bay, terminal distributary channel, distributary mouth bar, and distributary channel deposits signaled the reactivation of the delta lobe. Ultimately, these deltaic environments were incised into and became overlain by braided channel deposits during a marked drop in relative sea level and progradation of the fluvial system. Combining ichnologic and sedimentologic observations was critical to identify eleven distinct deltaic and continental paleoenvironments. This study documents the architecture and evolution of an ancient, high-latitude, muddy, river-dominated deltaic system and highlights the autogenic and allogenic processes preserved in the system.

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