• Facies analysis;
  • genetic sequences;
  • mixed-influenced deltas;
  • shoreline trajectory;
  • stacking pattern;
  • Svalbard


Deltas are commonly classified according to their plan-view morphology as either river-dominated, tide-dominated or wave-dominated. However, most deltas form under the mixed influence of these processes, commonly with laterally varying process regimes. It has also become clear that there is a mismatch between the plan-view morphology and internal facies composition in some deltas. Combined outcrop and subsurface data from the Eocene Battfjellet Formation, Spitsbergen, provide an example of ancient shelf deltas that formed under mixed influence. Internally, these shelf deltas are characterized by wave-dominated facies that are normally associated with strike-extensive, nearly linear shoreline sandstones. However, the formation comprises partially overlapping sandstone bodies of limited lateral extent (<20 km in any direction). This stacking pattern is attributed to frequent autogenic lobe switching that caused localized and rapid transgressions. Such processes typify fluvial-dominated deltas and occur less commonly in wave-dominated ones. Thus, there is an apparent mismatch between inferred plan-view morphology and internal facies composition. It is argued that the Battfjellet deltas were flood-dominated and prograded mainly during periods of high fluvial discharge. However, reworking of the fluvial-flood facies by fair-weather and storm waves, as well as longshore currents, resulted in a wave-dominated facies character. Delta lobes undergoing auto-retreat were particularly prone to reworking by basinal processes, including tidal currents. It is suggested that repeated delta progradation from inner shelf settings towards the outer shelf and shelf edge was aided by high sediment supply rather than relative falls in sea-level as previously suggested. This interpretation is supported by: (i) the lack of major facies dislocations and extensive sub-aerial unconformities; and (ii) an overall relative rise in sea-level as evidenced by an overall low-angle (0·8 to 1·2°) ascending shoreline trajectory. The latter results from the combined effect of basin subsidence, eustatic highstand and sediment compaction.