Muddy deltas in freshwater lakes, and tectonism in the Upper Carboniferous Coalfield of NE England



    1. Department of Applied Geology, Strathclyde University, Glasgow G1 1XJ, U.K.
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      Britoil plc, 150 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5LJ, U.K.



The Westphalian B sediments of NE England were deposited on part of a coastal plain with subdued relief. Most of the fine-grained sediments were deposited by small fluvially dominated muddy deltas which fed into shallow freshwater lakes in tectonic depressions a few metres deep and a few tens of kilometres across.

Coalfield lakes contained an abundant low-diversity bivalve fauna and existed for thousands of years before delta infill. Pro-delta clay rhythmites, formed by flood turbidites, coarsened up into wide silty mouth bars, which merged up into channel mouth sands, inversely-graded subaqueous levee deposits and sandy channel fills. Delta complexes were either abandoned below water level leaving a lake, or were colonized by plants, which resulted in trapping of suspended sediment and build-up of a seatearth to near water level when peats could accumulate. These swamps were analogous to the present raised bogs of Indonesia and had a lateral zonation of vegetation to a central low-diversity flora. Upwards reversal of this zonation and the succession of coals by lake sediments show that peat floras were killed by drowning due to rapid tectonic subsidence. Subsurface data show that seam splits and sand-body locations were tectonically controlled, and that the lake deltas in this area were distant from any major sand distributary.