ABSTRACT

Tectonic activity in extensional basins has a profound control on accommodation and sediment supply through the interplay between footwall uplift and hanging-wall subsidence, and thus largely influences the three-dimensional architecture of syn-rift sequences. This is emphasized in areas close to major rift-border faults, where steep coastal reliefs and fluvial gradients produce compound facies zonation and stratigraphic styles with strong lateral variability. The lower Permian High Cliff Sandstone was deposited in an array of shallow marine environments along the margin of the northern Perth Basin during a protracted late Paleozoic rifting episode in Western Australian basins. The formation is composed of fluvio-deltaic and nearshore strata sharply overlying a thick succession of offshore mudstone that was deposited during a phase of tectonic quiescence. This basal contact likely reflects submarine erosion and is, therefore, interpreted as a regressive surface of marine erosion generated in response to forced regression. The facies arrangement consisting of interbedded sandstone, conglomerate, and heterolithic facies chiefly records the evolution of a low- to high-gradient paleoshoreline punctuated by coastal streams, steep sea cliffs, and back-barrier lagoons. Extraformational outsized clasts were probably emplaced by the erosion of exhumed basement and older sedimentary rocks through fluvial incision, wave sapping, or landsliding. The along-strike variability between low- and high-gradient shoreline deposits indicates a dynamic depositional setting with a complex tectonic influence. The basal regressive surface of marine erosion is attributed to footwall uplift during the early reactivation stage of basin-bounding normal faults and, therefore, records the initiation of a new syn-rift phase in the northern Perth Basin.

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