Creation and Preservation of Channel-Form Sand Bodies in an Experimental Alluvial System

  1. Gary Nichols,
  2. Ed Williams and
  3. Chris Paola
  1. Benjamin A. Sheets1,2,†,
  2. Chris Paola1,2 and
  3. J. Michael Kelberer1,2

Published Online: 30 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304411.ch22

Sedimentary Processes, Environments and Basins: A Tribute to Peter Friend

Sedimentary Processes, Environments and Basins: A Tribute to Peter Friend

How to Cite

Sheets, B. A., Paola, C. and Kelberer, J. M. (2007) Creation and Preservation of Channel-Form Sand Bodies in an Experimental Alluvial System, in Sedimentary Processes, Environments and Basins: A Tribute to Peter Friend (eds G. Nichols, E. Williams and C. Paola), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304411.ch22

Author Information

  1. 1

    National Center for Earthsurface Dynamics, USA

  2. 2

    Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA

  1. ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, PO Box 2189, Houston TX 77252-2189, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 7 DEC 2007

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 38 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences & Geography, Centre for Earth & Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405179225

Online ISBN: 9781444304411

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Keywords:

  • creation and preservation of channel-form sand bodies in experimental alluvial system;
  • high-resolution topography experiment;
  • relating surface morphology and stratigraphy;
  • channel body depositional sequence;
  • abandonment and reoccupation of channel topography;
  • channel sand body preservation;
  • cyclicity and flow diversion;
  • National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED)

Summary

An experiment is described that was designed to investigate the relationship between channel-form sand bodies and scour-and-fill processes in an alluvial system. Despite the experiment's simplified conditions (e.g. restricted grain-size distribution, constant discharge) channel sand bodies preserved in the deposits record a remarkably complex sequence of erosion and deposition. The life span of a channel can be summarized in three phases:

1 initial incision produced by scour associated with convergent flow;

2 a period of multiple episodes of abandonment and reoccupation, which lead to multiple storeys of deposit;

3 burial and preservation by an expanding depositional flow, which creates convex-up topography, and prevents flow reoccupation.

The resultant channel bodies are larger (depth, width) than the cross-sectional geometry of the fluvial channels that created them, although their aspect ratio (width/depth) is comparable to that of scouring flow. The sequence of events leading to the formation and preservation of channel bodies is consistent throughout the experiment, and leads to the preservation of multiple storeys and lateral accretion – sedimentary structures commonly produced by more complex natural systems, and common in the stratigraphic record. Convex topography associated with channel filling and abandonment causes regional avulsion and reorganization of the channel system, which leads to cyclic compensational filling of the experimental basin.