Depositional Architecture and Facies of River and Fan Deltas: A Synthesis

  1. Albina Colella2 and
  2. David B. Prior3
  1. G. Postma

Published Online: 2 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303858.ch2

Coarse-Grained Deltas

Coarse-Grained Deltas

How to Cite

Postma, G. (1990) Depositional Architecture and Facies of River and Fan Deltas: A Synthesis, in Coarse-Grained Deltas (eds A. Colella and D. B. Prior), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303858.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Universita della Calabria, Italy

  2. 3

    Atlantic Geoscience Center, Nova Scotia, Canada

Author Information

  1. Sedimentology Group, Institute for Earth Sciences, Postbus 80.021, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 2 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 19 OCT 1990

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632028948

Online ISBN: 9781444303858



  • depositional architecture and facies of river and fan deltas: a synthesis;
  • subaerial delta segment;
  • type-c feeder system;
  • shallow water deltas;
  • mouth-bar deltas;
  • sedimentological models


New ways to integrate studies of deltas are discussed with emphasis on the actual delta characteristics (architecture and sedimentary facies) rather than the modifying role of basinal processes or the nature of the alluvial feeder system. It is suggested that the first-order level of delta recognition and classification should pertain to the physiography and facies of the actual delta plain, delta front, delta slope (if present) and prodelta, whereas the nature of the feeder system (whether alluvial fan, braidplain or solitary river) should constitute a second-order level of recognition.

Assuming a ‘steady-state’ development of a delta, the character of the delta varies with the character of the feeder (distributary) system, the basinal water depth and the different ways of sediment diffusion at the delta front. Analysis of these variables has resulted in 12 prototype deltas which are postulated as sedimentological norms to facilitate comparisons of both modern and ancient delta systems.