Tidally flooded back-barrier dunefield, Guerrero Negro area, Baja California, Mexico
Article first published online: 14 JUN 2006
Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 23–43, February 1990
How to Cite
FRYBERGER, S. G., KRYSTINIK, L. F. and SCHENK, C. J. (1990), Tidally flooded back-barrier dunefield, Guerrero Negro area, Baja California, Mexico. Sedimentology, 37: 23–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3091.1990.tb01981.x
- Issue published online: 14 JUN 2006
- Article first published online: 14 JUN 2006
- (Manuscript submitted 25 November 1988; revision received 21 April 1989)
A 45 km long barrier island exists west of the town of Guerrero Negro, Mexico, along the western coast of the Baja California peninsula, about 720 km south of San Diego, California. This barrier has developed in a mesotidal, arid-climate regime characterized by steady, strong, onshore winds from the NW. The barrier island W of Guerrero Negro has prograded seaward about 1·6 km in the last 1800 years while an aeolian dunefield fed by sand blown from beaches has advanced inland up to 13 km. Landward progradation of the dune system from the barrier has occurred during relative rise in sea-level; thus, aeolian sediments exist at or below the water table over a wide area. The progradation of dunes across marshes, tidal flats, and tidal channels, as well as the repeated submergence of interdune areas by tidal waters, has created a complex suite of mixed aeolian and subaqueous sediments in the back barrier. The complexity of the suites of aeolian sedimentary structures, together with the inclusion of subaqueously formed structures such as current and oscillation ripples, would make recognition of the aeolian origin of much of the sediments difficult in ancient rocks.
In addition to the scientific importance of recognizing the aeolian deposits, the sedimentation model represented by the Guerrero Negro barrier has applications in petroleum exploration and development. Currently, most preservational models for barrier islands attach little volumetric importance to aeolian deposits. This modern example suggests that volumetrically significant aeolian deposits can be preserved behind a barrier, particularly in an arid-climate regime. If preserved and charged with oil, the resulting productive sandstone could have an extremely irregular landward edge comprised in part of onshore-prograded aeolian dune sandstone with excellent reservoir characteristics. As with current barrier models, the reservoir would be sealed landward and above by lagoonal mudstone and silt, evaporites, or evaporitic, sandy sabkha deposits. High organic productivity occurs in lagoons immediately adjacent to the dunefields of Guerrero Negro, suggesting that organic-rich source rock may exist near aeolian sandstone in ancient settings similar to Guerrero Negro.