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Continental Environments

Chapter 9

Continental Environments
Deserts
Alluvial fans
Rivers (fluvial) and floodplains
Lakes (lacustrine)
Glacial

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Desert Biome
http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/climate.htm

low-latitude deserts approximately between 18 to 28,


edge of the equatorial subtropical high pressure belt and trade
winds
Descending air masses therefore rarely hold much moisture
for precipitation
covers 12 % of the Earth's land surface.
Temperature Range: 16 C
Annual Precipitation: 0.25 cm (0.1 in). All months less than
0.25 cm (0.1 in).

World Climate Zones


http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/climate.htm

Eolian Cross Sets

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Eolian (Desert) Deposits
Most between 20-30 latitude
Coarsest clasts remain as deflation lag (desert pavement)
Sands are well sorted & rounded; surface pitting and frosting
Large-scale planar-tabular or trough- and wedge-shaped cross
beds
Diagnostic Features
TECTONIC SETTING
Mountain rain shadows, associated with desert deposits
GEOMETRY
Dune fields can cover 100's km2; tabular bodies up to 35 m thick
SEQUENCE
Large-scale x-beds, foresets dip 25-30; deflation gravel or pebble lags
SEDIMENTOLOGY
Well-sorted, well rounded quartz-rich sand; Large scale x-beds
comprised of smaller scale low-amplitude wind ripples

Alluvial fans
common in modern and ancient deposits;
most common in semi-arid region where pronounced
gradient or abrupt relief exists (highland, hills,
mountains, faulting scarps);
preservation potential high when building into lakes,
rivers, playas, flood plains;
May be divided into upper, mid, and lower fans;
commonly associated with intermittent current dunes
and salt lake (playa) or salt flat (sabkha) deposits.
prograding alluvial fans: overall coarsening-upward
succession.

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Boggs 2001

Alluvial Fans, Baffin Island http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/10z.html

Different types of
fans
Debris-Flow Fans
Braided Fluvial Fans
Low-
sinuosity/meandering
Fluvial Fans

Boggs 2001

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Boggs 2001

Sediment Gravity Flows

Proximal Fan
Poorly sorted, large, angular clasts

coarse, thick-bedded, poorly


stratified alluvial fan deposits.
Note lack of channels

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Fluvial Environments
Deposits of rivers and associated
environments
Widespread in sedimentary rock record

Fluvial Environments
Morphological components:
Valleys
Channels
Interfluves (floodplains)
Drainage basins
Headlands erosional (generally)
Coastal plain depositional (generally)

Channel:
Trough through
which water runs.

Press and Siever, 2001

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Valley: Area
between tops of
slopes on both
sides of the river

Press and Siever, 2001

Floodplain: Flat
area, about level
with the top of the
channel.
Inundated during
high discharges.

Press and Siever, 2001

Channel Types
Four principal types:
Meandering winding, single channels
Braided multiple channels that change
location
Anastamosing multiple channels that
maintain their locations
Straight (rare)
Continuous gradation from one type to
another

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Fluvial
Systems
Straight
(rare)
Meandering
Braided
Anastamosed

Boggs 2001

Components
Bedforms (dunes, ripples, flat bed)
Bars larger depositional units
(transverse, linguoid, point)
Channels different types
Levees
Overbank deposits floodplain,
crevasse splays, paleosols, etc.

Cutbank
Point Bar
Coarse-grained meandering

Sandy bedforms
Overbank
Fines

Walker and Cant 1984

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Point Bar
Cutbank

Press and Siever, 2001

one km Timeslice 3-D seismic data


Offshore, S.E. Asia

Courtesy Henry Posamentier

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Press and Siever, 2001

Modern Mississippi Floodplain


Google Earth

Thalweg: deepest part of the


Walker and Cant 1984 channel, strongest currents

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Lateral Accretion Surfaces Cretaceous (?)
Colorado

Lateral Accretion Surfaces Cretaceous Utah

Fluvial Environments
Floods:
Streams overspill their banks, innundating
floodplain
Short-term increase in discharge
Frequency variable, depends on location

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Press and Siever, 2001

Press and Siever, 2001

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Fluvial Environments
Floodplain deposits
Mud (shale) deposited during floods
Crevasse splays breaches in levees
Sandy, rippled, fan shape
Rooted horizons
Coal, carbonaceous shale
Paleosols

Floodplain (channels and paleosols)


Cretaceous, New Mexico

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Channel sand surrounded by fine-
grained floodplain deposits

Classic fining-
upward point bar
succession

Thickness will be
proportional to
channel depth

Walker and Cant 1984

Sandy Braided System

Sand flats

Downstream
accretion
Sandy bedforms

Walker and Cant 1984

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Gravel-bed braided system

Gravel bars & bedforms

Walker and Cant 1984

Sand Flat
(Compound bar)

3-D Dunes
(Linguoid Bars)

Walker and Cant 1984

Brahmaputra River
Bangladesh

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braid plain defined by edge of vegetation

Stacked ?braided fluvial sandstones


Cretaceous, New Mexico

Braided stream facies

broad and shallow


channel bars (longitudinal, transverse)
are main sites of sediment accumulation
gravel sediment dominant vs. sand-
grade sediment dominant
2-D dunes most common: planar
(tabular) x-beds dominant
vertical succession: stacked dunes with
planar x-stratification

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Geometry of Braided River Deposits

Walker and Cant 1984

Swamps
Anastamosing (peat/coal)
and small
floodplain
Overbank lakes
Fines

Sandy bedforms
Channel

Walker and Cant 1984

Channel Types
Morphology of fluvial system controls
sandbody geometry
Braided: sheet sandstones, high sand/shale
ratio
Meandering: sandstones lenticular in cross-
section, moderate/low sand/shale ratio, fining-
upward successions
Anastomosing: shoestring sandstones in shale,
low sand/shale ratio

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Lakes
Open lakes have an outflow (i.e. a river)
sediments dominated by terriginous particles
and organic matter
Closed lakes have no outflow
solutes are not carried out of the basin
alkalinity can build up such that carbonates
and evaporites can precipitate.
A lake can alternate between open and
closed with tectonic or hydrologic changes

Lakes
Deposits in open lakes come mainly from
rivers but may also be deposited by wind,
ice-rafting, and other processes.
Sedimentation in closed lake systems
consists of evaporite minerals, carbonate
muds, sands, and silts.
Lacustrine deposits are often rich in
organic matter

Distribution of Open Lakes

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Distribution of Closed Lakes

Transport mechanisms and kinds of


siliciclastic sediments in lakes with annual
thermal layering

Boggs, 2001

Varves-Ellismere Island
coarser lighter spring runoff, then finer darker fall dieoff
(http://www.geo.umass.edu/climate/TILPHTML/Lakesedssummary.html

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Open Lakes

Boggs 2001

Alkaline Lakes
Closed lakes subject to limited
replenishment from rainfall
Buildup of salinity as there is no outlet
Evaporites such as Sodium sulfate
deposits of Saskatchewan
The main uses of sodium sulphate are in the pulp
and paper, powder detergent, glass and dyeing
industries.

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Boggs 2001

Diagnostic Features of
LACUSTRINE DEPOSITS
TECTONIC SETTING
Fault grabens or downwarped basins; associated with
other nonmarine settings
GEOMETRY
Circular or elongate; lenticular in cross section
SEQUENCE
Coarsening upwards from laminated shale, marl to ripple
& cross- bedded sand. Cyclicity possible.
SEDIMENTOLOGY
Mudstones, shales, sandstones; carbonate, gypsum,
halite; dessication features. Nonmarine fossils

Glacial Deposits
Glacier:
Large masses of ice on land that show
evidence of being in motion or of once
having moved
Two types: valley glaciers, continental
glaciers

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Press and Siever, 2001

Glacial Deposits
Glacier formation
Low Temperature (high latitude or high
altitude)
Snow accumulation > ablation
Snow compacts, turns to ice
Movement
Gravity as driving force
Basal slip and/or plastic flow
Rates: m/yr (km/yr in surges)

Press and Siever, 2001

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Glacial Deposits
Flowing ice erodes rock & regolith
Erosional forms: Striations, U-shaped
valleys, Fjords, Cirques, Roche moutone
Flowing ice transports sediment
Sediment deposited where ice melts

Press and Siever, 2001

Press and Siever, 2001

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Glacial Deposits
Deposition:
Drift material of glacial origin
Till: deposited directly by ice
Outwash: deposited by glacial meltwater
Loess: deposited by wind
Glaciolacustrine: deposited in glacial lakes
Glaciomarine: deposited in the sea by/close to
ice
Erratic: large boulder in till

Press and Siever, 2001

Boggs, 2001

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Glacial Deposits
Composite that includes eolian, fluvial,
lacustrine, and even marine
environments
Ice-contact deposits characterized by
extremely poor sorting and lack of
stratification
Lakes and marine deposits may have
dropstones

Glacial Episodes

Glacial
sediments
in N.A.

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Summary

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