Internal structure of a trough blowout, determined from migrated ground-penetrating radar profiles



Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) was used to investigate the relationship between the geomorphological development of a large aeolian trough blowout and the stratigraphy and internal sedimentary structure of its associated deposits. Although analogous, many of the data-processing techniques routinely applied in seismic reflection are very rarely applied in GPR studies. In this study, a simple migration program was used that significantly enhanced the quality of GPR images from a large trough blowout at Raven Meols on the Sefton coast, northwest England. These improvements aided subsequent data interpretation, which was achieved through application of the principles of radar stratigraphy. GPR shows the pre-blowout dunes to have a complex internal structure that suggests they were formed in the presence of at least a partial vegetation cover. Subsequent to stabilization of these dunes a thin soil developed. This dune soil forms an important radar sequence boundary and delineates a complex topography beneath the depositional lobe of the blowout. The internal structure of the depositional lobe of the blowout does not conform to a model of simple radial foreset deposition, as derived from contemporary process studies reported in the literature. Instead, the pattern of deposition has been extensively modified by the antecedent dune topography and by varying spatial and temporal exposure to important sand-transporting winds that is partly controlled by interactions between the regional wind pattern and local dune morphology. Trough blowout deposits in coastal aeolian sedimentary sequences are likely to be recognized by the presence of laterally continuous packets of relatively high-angle cross-strata, which often display a spatially-variable radial dip pattern that is only very poorly or partially developed. In addition, a soil, or other surface representing a significant hiatus in dune deposition, is likely to underlie the blowout deposits, the topography of which will show a clear relationship to the dip and orientation of the overlying cross-strata.