Wave-generated structures and sequences from a shallow marine succession, Lower Carboniferous, County Cork, Ireland



In a Lower Carboniferous formation south of Cork, Ireland, characterized by sand/mud alternations at varying scales, several lithotypes could be singled out on the basis of relative sand content and primary sedimentary structures. The lithotypes are arranged in several types of sequences: coarsening upwards, coarsening-fining upwards, random, and in rare instances: fining upwards.

With increased gross sandcontent the sand intercalations thicken and show a richer array of structures, reflecting a wider range of energy conditions. The majority of the structures is interpreted as wave generated. Current formed structures play an insignificant role. Tidal effects could not be ascertained. The alternation of low- and high-energy lithotypes, occurring in sandy as well as muddy parts of the sequences is explained as resulting from the interplay of storm and fair weather conditions. The effect of shoaling bathymetry is reflected in sequences by an increasing importance of high-energy lithotypes.

The environment of deposition can be visualized as a muddy shallow marine platform on which longshore directed sandy shoals were formed under the influence of wave action. Depending on the degree of wave agitation and the availability of sand the shoals reached different stages of maturity: incipient, submerged or emergent. The sequential type encountered in vertical sections depends on the location of the line of logging and varies laterally as sandlenses thicken, amalgamate or die out.