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Facies architecture of a submarine fan channel–levee complex: the Juniper Ridge Conglomerate, Coalinga, California



The Upper Cretaceous Juniper Ridge Conglomerate (JRC) near Coalinga, California, provides a rare, high-quality exposure of a submarine channel to overbank transition. The facies architecture of the JRC comprises a thick, predominantly mudstone sequence overlain by a channellized conglomerate package. Conglomeratic bounding surfaces truncate successions of interbedded turbiditic sandstones and mudstones both vertically and laterally. Thick-bedded, massive sandstones are interbedded with conglomerates. Facies architecture, palaeocurrent indicators, slump features, sandstone percentages and sandstone bed thickness trends lead to the interpretation that these elements comprise channel and overbank facies. A vertical sequence with conglomerate at the base, followed by thick-bedded sandstone, and capped by interbedded turbiditic sandstone and mudstone form a fining-upward lithofacies association that is interpreted as a single channel-fill/overbank system. Three similar lithofacies associations can be related to autocyclic processes of thalweg migration and submarine fan aggradation or to allocyclically driven changes in sediment calibre.