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The thickest and most extensive Upper Cretaceous coals of the western interior of the United States occur at the top of, and landward of, shoreface and delta front platforms that are stacked vertically. An explanation for this observation was sought through numerical models derived from the interactions of the three fundamental processes that control stratal geometries and lithofacies distributions. These are eustatic fluctuations, tectonic movement, and quantity of sediment delivered to or produced in a sedimentary basin.

The models show that the fundamental building block of marine-shelf, to coastal-plain stratigraphic sequences is the progradational event, expressed in vertical profile...

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