Aeolian/fluvial interactions and high-resolution sequence stratigraphy of a non-marine lowstand wedge: the Avilé Member of the Agrio Formation (Lower Cretaceous), central Neuquén Basin, Argentina



Abstract Accumulation within the unconformity-based Hauterivian Avilé Sandstone of the Neuquén Basin, Argentina, was characterized by a close interaction between fluvial and aeolian processes developed after a major relative sea-level drop that almost completely desiccated the entire basin and juxtaposed these non-marine deposits on shallow- and deep-marine facies. Aeolian deposits within the Avilé Member include dune (A1) and sand sheet (A2) units that characterize the lower part of the unit. Fluvial deposits comprise distal flood units (F1) interbedded with aeolian dune deposits in the middle part of the succession, and low- (F2) and high-sinuosity (F3) channels associated with floodplain deposits (F4) towards the top. The internal characteristics of the aeolian system indicate that its accumulation was strongly controlled by water-table dynamics, with the development of multiple horizontal deflation super surfaces that truncate dune deposits and form the basal boundary of flood deposits and sand sheet units. A long-term wetting-upward trend is recorded throughout the entire unit, with an increase in fluvial activity towards the top and the development of a more permanent fluvial system overlying a major erosion surface interpreted as a sequence boundary. The upward increase in water-table influence might be related to relative sea-level rise, which controlled the position of the water table and allowed the accumulation of tabular aeolian units bounded by horizontal deflation surfaces. This high-frequency, eustatically driven process acted together with a long-term climatic change towards wetter conditions.