The influence of tides on the sedimentology of wave-dominated shorefaces has been emphasized in recent studies of modern shorelines and related facies models, but few ancient examples have been reported to date. Herein, we use a case study from the stratigraphic record to develop a revised facies model and predictive spatio-temporal framework for high-energy, tidally modulated, wave-dominated, barred shorefaces.
Kimmeridgian–Tithonian shallow-marine sandstones in the Weald Basin (southern England and northern France) occur as a series of laterally extensive tongues that are 5–24 m thick. Each tongue coarsens upward in its lower part and fines upward in its upper part. The lower part of each upward-coarsening succession consists of variably stacked, hummocky cross-stratified, very fine- to fine-grained sandstone beds and mudstone interbeds that are moderately to intensely bioturbated by a mixed Skolithos and Cruziana Ichnofacies. This lower part of the succession is interpreted to record deposition on the subtidal lower shoreface, between effective storm wave base and fairweather wave base. The upper part of each upward-coarsening succession comprises cross-bedded, medium- to coarse-grained sandstones that are pervasively intercalated with mudstone-draped, wave-rippled surfaces (including interference ripples) which mantle the erosional bases of trough cross-sets. Bioturbation is patchy, and constitutes a low-diversity Skolithos Ichnofacies. Cross-bedded sandstones are arranged into cosets superimposed on steeply dipping (up to 10°) clinoforms that dip offshore and alongshore, and extend through the succession. These deposits are interpreted to record shallow subtidal and intertidal bars on the upper shoreface, which likely contained laterally migrating rip channels or formed part of a spit. The lower, upward-coarsening part of each sandstone tongue represents an upward-shallowing, regressive shoreface succession in which the internal bedding of upper-shoreface sandstones was modulated by tidal changes in water depth. The upper, upward-fining part of each sandstone tongue typically comprises an erosionally based bioclastic lag overlain by subtidal lower-shoreface deposits, and constitutes an upward-deepening succession developed during transgression.
Regressive–transgressive sandstone tongues fringe the northeastern margin of the basin, which was exposed to an energetic wave climate driven by westerly and southwesterly winds with a fetch of 200–600 km. The high tidal range interpreted from the shoreface sandstone tongues is attributed to resonant amplification in a broad (150–200 km), shallow (18–33 m) embayment as the tidal wave propagated from the Tethys Ocean into the adjacent intracratonic Laurasian Seaway, of which the Weald Basin was a part.