ABSTRACT

Sediment-routing controls on sandstone texture and bulk petrography have been evaluated in linked alluvial–coastal–shelfal deposits of the Upper Cretaceous Castlegate Sandstone, Blackhawk Formation, Star Point Sandstone, and Mancos Shale (Western Interior Basin, Utah and Colorado, USA) using thin-section analysis of representative outcrop samples in the context of a high-resolution sequence stratigraphic and paleogeographic framework. The studied strata record deposition from two styles of sediment-routing system within an overfilled foredeep and contiguous intra-continental seaway. First, multiple transverse drainages supplied sand to fluvial, shoreline, and shelf segments of sediment-routing systems characterized by down-dip transport distances of 150–450 km and significant strike-oriented sediment transport along the shoreline. Second, the distal shoreline–shelf segment of an axially supplied sediment-routing system was characterized by sand transport for a distance of c. 300 km.

Bulk petrographic composition indicates that transverse sediment-routing systems were sourced from catchments that supplied quartz-rich sand with a subordinate lithic component, while the large axial sediment-routing system was sourced from a catchment(s) supplying slightly more feldspathic sand. Thin-section measurements of mean grain size, sorting, skewness, and ratio of minimum-to-maximum diameter (a proxy for sphericity) are similar for sandstones deposited in fluvial, shoreline, and shelf segments of the transverse sediment-routing systems and in the shoreline–shelf segment of the axial sediment-routing systems, although hydrodynamic sorting is important in locally segregating grain-size populations within each segment. Further, textural analysis of detrital quartz, feldspar, and lithic sand-grain populations shows little evidence of relative change in mean grain size or apparent grain sphericity with downsystem distance, implying that sand-grain populations of different petrographic composition did not undergo significant differential mechanical breakdown during transport. Instead, the textural characteristics of these sand-grain populations are inferred to have been controlled mainly by bedrock lithology and recycling in source catchments. The textural signal of sediment-source areas then propagated downsystem in the sand fraction of detrital sediment supply. This inference is supported by the fine- to medium-grained, well- to very well-sorted character of all sandstone samples, consistent with recycling of sandstones and quartzites from the Sevier fold-and-thrust belt.

You do not currently have access to this article.