Abstract: 

The relative rates of sediment accumulation, erosion, and structural uplift determine whether a growing fold develops positive topographic relief, is beveled by antecedent streams, or is buried under thick growth strata. When folds rise in subsiding basins, upward, convergent flow of groundwater through the permeable growth strata that underlie antecedent streams enhances the flux of ions required for concretion growth. Early diagenetic concretions that grow in such alluvial strata may constitute the only clasts larger than sand size available for transport when antecedent streams become erosive. The first reworked concretions deposited by these streams should accurately mark the transition from aggradation to erosion as folds rise into the paths of streams. In this situation, the ability to differentiate reworked from in situ concretions is crucial.

The west-vergent Simpson Ridge anticline, a N–S-trending, thick-skinned Laramide structure in east-central Wyoming, separates the larger Hanna basin from the Carbon basin. Near the north nose of this anticline, in situ iron-oxide-rich concretions are abundant in folded Paleocene strata (Ferris Formation) and, just to the east, large, reworked, iron-rich concretions are abundant in younger, more gently dipping conglomerates in the basal Hanna Formation of the backlimb. Smaller reworked concretions are also present near the base of the Hanna Formation at least 7 km south of the anticlinal nose and just east of the fold's axis.

At the anticlinal nose, in situ (non-reworked) concretions up to 3 m × 1 m × 1 m are abundant at the top of an ∼ 7-km-thick sequence of sandstones and siltstones that constitute the Late Cretaceous–early Paleocene Ferris Formation. Reworked concretions are absent in the strata hosting these in situ concretions, but reworked concretionary clasts up to 2 m in diameter are present in exposures of conglomerates in the lowermost Hanna Formation that lie just above the in situ Ferris concretions and southeast of the anticlinal nose. These early-diagenetic concretions were originally cemented by siderite (FeCO3). Oxidation of some small, rinded siderite-cemented clasts took place after their fluvial transport into the Hanna Formation, but abundant angular, un-rinded, iron-oxide-cemented clasts indicate that many large, in situ siderite concretions had resided in the vadose zone before they were entrained. The distribution of reworked concretions and the orientations of crossbeds show that antecedent Hanna streams eroded a swath at least 5 km wide across the rising structure. These streams transported Ferris Formation concretions southeastward into the Carbon basin, and deposited them in a conglomeratic sandstone body in the Hanna Formation. Large calcite-cemented concretions, many with a pipe-like morphology, then grew within Hanna crossbeds. In many cases, these in situ concretions enclose transported, iron-rich concretions, but there is no evidence any calcite-cemented concretions were reworked. The NW–SE alignment of the pipes record southeastward flow of groundwater and thus also provide evidence (together with the orientation of the crossbeds) of the original continuity of the Hanna Formation across the anticline.

Reworked concretions reveal the interplay of deposition, diagenesis, and erosion. Due to convergent groundwater flow over growing anticlines, early diagenetic concretions, both in situ and as reworked clasts, are especially likely to be found in growth strata.

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