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Exhumed channel sandstone networks within fluvial fan deposits from the Oligo-Miocene Caspe Formation, South-east Ebro Basin (North-east Spain)

Authors

  • JOSE L. CUEVAS MARTÍNEZ,

    1. Facultat de Geologia, Centre Mixt d’Investigació GEOMODELS – Group of Geodynamics and Basin Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain (E-mail: jcuevas@ub.edu)
    2. Departamento Estratigrafia i Paleontologia, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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  • LLUIS CABRERA PÉREZ,

    1. Facultat de Geologia, Centre Mixt d’Investigació GEOMODELS – Group of Geodynamics and Basin Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain (E-mail: jcuevas@ub.edu)
    2. Departamento Estratigrafia i Paleontologia, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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  • ALEX MARCUELLO,

    1. Facultat de Geologia, Centre Mixt d’Investigació GEOMODELS – Group of Geodynamics and Basin Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain (E-mail: jcuevas@ub.edu)
    2. Departamento Geodinàmica i Geofísica, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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  • PAU ARBUÉS CAZO,

    1. Facultat de Geologia, Centre Mixt d’Investigació GEOMODELS – Group of Geodynamics and Basin Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain (E-mail: jcuevas@ub.edu)
    2. Departamento Estratigrafia i Paleontologia, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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  • MARIANO MARZO CARPIO,

    1. Facultat de Geologia, Centre Mixt d’Investigació GEOMODELS – Group of Geodynamics and Basin Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain (E-mail: jcuevas@ub.edu)
    2. Departamento Estratigrafia i Paleontologia, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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  • FABIA BELLMUNT

    1. Facultat de Geologia, Centre Mixt d’Investigació GEOMODELS – Group of Geodynamics and Basin Analysis, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain (E-mail: jcuevas@ub.edu)
    2. Departamento Geodinàmica i Geofísica, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), C/Martí i Franqués s/n 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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Abstract

The Oligo-Miocene Caspe Formation corresponds to the middle fluvial facies of the wider Guadalope-Matarranya fluvial fan, located in the South-east Ebro foreland basin (North-east Spain). At the time of the Caspe Formation deposition, this sector of the Ebro basin underwent a very continuous, moderate sedimentation rate. Lithofacies comprise deposits from channellized and unchannellized flows. Channellized flow lithofacies form multi-storey ribbon-like sandstone bodies that crop out as extensive sandstone ridges belonging to exhumed channel networks. Width/thickness ratios of these channel-fill bodies average close to six. Sinuosity is usually low (most common values around 1·1), although it can be high locally (up to 2). Thicknesses range from a few metres to 15 m. Unchannellized flow lithofacies form tabular bodies that can be ascribed to overbank deposits (levées, crevasse splays and fine-grained floodplain deposits) and also to frontal lobes, although recognition of this last case requires exceptional outcrop conditions or geophysical subsurface studies. The unchannellized flow lithofacies proportion ranges from 75% to 97·8%. Methods applied to this study include detailed three-dimensional architectural analysis in addition to sedimentological analysis. The architecture is characterized by an intricate network of highly interconnected ribbon-like sandstone bodies. Such bodies are connected by three kinds of connections: convergences, divergences and cross-cuttings. Although the Caspe Formation lithofacies and architecture resemble anastomosed channels (low topographic gradient, high preservation potential, moderate aggradation rate, high lateral stability of the channels, dominance of the ribbon-like morphologies and high proportion of floodplain to channel-fill sediments), an unambiguous interpretation of the channel networks as anastomosed or single threaded cannot be established. Instead, the observed architecture could be considered as the product of the complex evolution of a fluvial fan segment, where different network morphologies could develop. A facies model for aggrading ephemeral fluvial systems in tectonically active, endorheic basins is proposed.

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