Textural trends in turbidites and slurry beds from the Oligocene flysch of the East Carpathians, Romania



Deep-water sandstone beds of the Oligocene Fusaru Sandstone and Lower Dysodilic Shale, exposed in the Buzău Valley area of the East Carpathian flysch belt, Romania, can be described in terms of the standard turbidite divisions. In addition, mud-rich sand layers are common, both as parts of otherwise ‘normal’ sequences of turbidite divisions and as individual event beds. Eleven units, interpreted as the deposits of individual flows, were densely sampled, and 87 thin sections were point counted for grain size and mud content. S3/Ta divisions, which form the bulk of most sedimentation units, have low internal textural variability but show subtle vertical trends in grain size. Most commonly, coarse-tail normal grading is associated with fine-tail inverse grading. The mean grain size can show inverse grading, normal grading or a lack of grading, but sorting tends to improve upward in most beds. Fine-tail inverse grading is interpreted as resulting from a decreasing effectiveness of trapping of fines during rapid deposition from a turbidity current as the initially high suspended-load fallout rate declines. If this effect is strong enough, the mean grain size can show subtle inverse grading as well. Thus, thick inversely graded intervals in deep-water sands lacking traction structures do not necessarily imply waxing flow velocities. If the suspended-load fallout rate drops to zero after the deposition of the coarse grain-size populations, the remaining finer grained flow bypasses and may rework the top of the S3 division, forming well-sorted, coarser grained, current-structured Tt units. Alternatively, the suspended-load fallout rate may remain high enough to prevent segregation of fines, leading to the deposition of significant amounts of mud along with the sand. Mud content of the sandstones is bimodal: either 3–13% or more than 20%. Two types of mud-rich sandstones were observed. Coarser grained mud-rich sandstones occur towards the upper parts of S3/Ta divisions. These units were deposited as a result of enhanced trapping of mud particles in the rapidly deposited sediment. Finer grained mud-rich units are interbedded with ripple-laminated very fine-grained sandy Tc divisions. During deposition of these units, mud floccules were hydraulically equivalent to the very fine sand- and silt-sized sediment. The mud-rich sandstones were probably deposited by flows that became transitional between turbidity currents and debris flows during their late-stage evolution.