Low-Stand Aeolian Influence on Stratigraphic Completeness: Upper Member of the Hermosa Formation (Latest Carboniferous), Southeast Utah, USA

  1. K. Pye3 and
  2. N. Lancaster4
  1. S. C. Atchley and
  2. D. B. Loope

Published Online: 8 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303971.ch9

Aeolian Sediments: Ancient and Modern

Aeolian Sediments: Ancient and Modern

How to Cite

Atchley, S. C. and Loope, D. B. (1993) Low-Stand Aeolian Influence on Stratigraphic Completeness: Upper Member of the Hermosa Formation (Latest Carboniferous), Southeast Utah, USA, in Aeolian Sediments: Ancient and Modern (eds K. Pye and N. Lancaster), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303971.ch9

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Reading, UK

  2. 4

    Reno, Nevada, USA

Author Information

  1. Department of Geology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA

  1. Exxon Production Research Company, PO Box 2189, Houston, TX 77252-2189, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 8 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 27 MAY 1993

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632035441

Online ISBN: 9781444303971



  • low-stand aeolian influence on stratigraphic completeness - Hermosa Formation (latest Carboniferous) southeast Utah;
  • geographic and stratigraphic setting;
  • aeolian cross-strata resting on subtidal marine limestone;
  • mechanisms and hierarchy of cyclicity;
  • beheaded sequence hypothesis;
  • Hermosa Formation of Paradox Basin;
  • eleven marine and nonmarine depositional environments


The Late Pennsylvanian (latest Carboniferous) record of the Paradox Basin of southeast Utah includes a thick sequence of cyclically inter-bedded marine, fluvial and aeolian deposits. We have reconstructed the areal distribution and relative water depths of marine depositional environments on the basis of lithology and facies stacking order within fourth-order cycles (established through Markov chain analysis). Estimates of water depths for facies make it possible to subdivide fourth-order cycles into transgressive and regressive fifth-order cycle sets. Fourth-order cycles are most often disconformably overlain by non-marine low-stand deposits. The facies associations within fourth-order cycles suggest superimposition on a third-order cycle. Third-order cycles lie within a (second-order) episode of long-term decrease in accommodation space. We attribute the higher-frequency (fifth- and fourth-order) cycles to the waxing and waning of Gondwana glaciers, while the longer-term second- and (perhaps) third-order cycles may reflect variations in tectonic accommodation provided by subsidence.

Allocyclic interpretations generally imply that the observed cycles can be correlated basin-wide. While the second- and third-order cycles can be correlated for a distance of at least 90 km, the fourth- and fifth-order cycles are difficult to correlate, even locally. This anomaly may be explained by the aridity of the Paradox Basin during Late Pennsylvanian time. Due to an arid palaeoclimate and a calcite dominated composition, grain supported marine carbonates remained unlithified after exposure. During fourth-order low stands, some of these sediments were reworked into aeolian dunes. The marine record was partially or totally stripped away, making correlation of fourth- and fifth-order cycles difficult. The fundamental nature of the basin fill was thus strongly influenced by deflation.