Lacustrine deposits are well represented in the lower part of the Late Carboniferous Agua Colorada Formation in the north-west Sierra de Narváez, Catamarca Province, Argentina. Lake Narváez was one of the several water bodies formed in the region immediately after the Gondwana glaciation.
The lacustrine transport system has been divided into three distinct zones: delta, shallow lake and deep lake. Delta progradation proceeded from the ESE. Coarse-grained delta plain and turbidite delta front deposits suggest that the delta was formed close to the headwaters (‘short-headed stream delta’type). During periods of high discharge, river mouths acted as bypass zones and fine and very fine sands were transported further into the lake by underflow currents. The clastic material supplied by the deltaic system was partially reworked by wave action. Sands accumulated in unstable conditions at the upper delta front as a consequence of delta progradation. As a result of the addition of clastics in the steep delta front, turbidity currents were formed, spreading their load along the lower delta slope. Deep lacustrine deposits are typically stacked, forming two different kinds of progradational turbidite lobe sequences. Type I lobes were formed in a basinal setting and were probably detached from their feeder systems as a result of sediment-bypassing in a shallow lake during periods of low lake level. These turbidite lobes are replaced upwards by type II lobes, which were formed on the delta slope during periods of lake level rise that allowed the onset of delta progradation. The presence of highly deformed sandstone bodies suggests rapid depositional rates in a high slope setting, whereas the occurrence of hummocky cross-stratified sandstones indicates wave reworking of the sands initially emplaced by turbidity currents. Therefore, the inner part of type II lobes was formed above storm wave base. The depositional history of Lake Narváez can be traced through four evolutionary stages: lake transgression, formation of type I lobes, formation of type II lobes and delta progradation. Tectonic activity was probably important at the early stage of lake evolution, but the subsequent depositional history was mainly controlled by fluctuations of lake level.