Pinch-out style and position of tidally influenced strata in a regressive–transgressive wave-dominated deltaic sandbody, Twentymile Sandstone, Mesaverde Group, NW Colorado

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Abstract

The Upper Cretaceous Twentymile Sandstone of the Mesaverde Group in NW Colorado, USA, has been analysed with respect to its pinch-out style and the stratigraphic position of tidally influenced facies within the sandstone tongue. Detailed sedimentological analysis has revealed that the Twentymile Sandstone as a whole is a deltaic shoreface sandstone tongue up to 50 m thick proximally. Facies change character vertically from very fine-grained, storm wave-dominated shelf sandstones and mudstones to fine-grained, wave-dominated sandstones and, finally, to fine- to coarse-grained tidally dominated sandstones. The pinch-out style is characterized by a basinward splitting of the massive proximal sandbody into seven coarsening-upward fourth-order sequences consisting of a lower shaly part and an upper sandy part (sandstone tongue). These are stacked overall to reflect the regressive-to-transgressive development of the tongue. Each of the lower sandstone tongues 1–3 are gradationally based, very fine-grained and dominated by hummocky cross-stratification and were deposited on the lower to upper shoreface. Sandstone tongues 4 and 5 prograded further basinwards than the underlying tongues, are erosively based, fine- to coarse-grained and mainly hummocky, herringbone and trough cross-stratified. Especially in tongue 5, tidal indicators, such as bipolar foresets and double mud drapes, are common. These tongues were deposited as upper shoreface and tidal channel sandstones respectively. Sandstone tongues 6 and 7 retrograded in relation to tongue 5, are very fine- to fine-grained and hummocky cross-stratified. These tongues were deposited in lower shoreface to offshore transition environments. The two lower fourth-order sequences were deposited during normal regressions during slowly rising or stable relative sea level and represent the highstand systems tract. The three succeeding fourth-order sequences, which show succeedingly increasing evidence of tidal influence, were deposited during falling and lowstand of relative sea level and represent the falling stage (forced regressive) and lowstand systems tracts. The uppermost two fourth-order sequences were deposited during rapidly rising sea level in the transgressive systems tract. The maximum tidal influence occurred during lowstand progradation, in contrast to most other published examples reporting maximum tidal influence during transgression.

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