3D architecture of cyclic-step and antidune deposits in glacigenic subaqueous fan and delta settings: Integrating outcrop and ground-penetrating radar data

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Abstract

Bedforms related to supercritical flows are increasingly recognised as important constituents of many depositional environments, but outcrop studies are commonly hampered by long bedform wavelengths and complex three-dimensional geometries. We combined outcrop-based facies analysis with ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys to analyse the 3D facies architecture of subaqueous ice-contact fan and glacifluvial delta deposits. The studied sedimentary systems were deposited at the margins of the Middle Pleistocene Scandinavian ice sheets in Northern Germany. Glacifluvial Gilbert-type deltas are characterised by steeply dipping foreset beds, comprising cyclic-step deposits, which alternate with antidune deposits. Deposits of cyclic steps consist of lenticular scours infilled by backset cross-stratified pebbly sand and gravel. The GPR sections show that the scour fills form trains along the delta foresets, which can locally be traced for up to 15 m. Perpendicular and oblique to palaeoflow direction, these deposits appear as troughs with concentric or low-angle cross-stratified infills. Downflow transitions from scour fills into sheet-like low-angle cross-stratified or sinusoidally stratified pebbly sand, deposited by antidunes, are common. Cyclic steps and antidunes were deposited by sustained and surge-type supercritical density flows, which were related to hyperpycnal flows, triggered by major meltwater discharge or slope-failure events. Subaqueous ice-contact fan deposits include deposits of progradational scour fills, isolated hydraulic jumps, antidunes and (humpback) dunes. The gravel-rich fan succession consists of vertical stacks of laterally amalgamated pseudo-sheets, indicating deposition by pulses of waning supercritical flows under high aggradation rates. The GPR sections reveal the large-scale architecture of the sand-rich fan succession, which is characterised by lobe elements with basal erosional surfaces associated with scours filled with backsets related to hydraulic jumps, passing upwards and downflow into deposits of antidunes and (humpback) dunes. The recurrent facies architecture of the lobe elements and their prograding and retrograding stacking pattern are interpreted as related to autogenic flow morphodynamics.

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Lang, J., Sievers, J., Loewer, M., Igel, J., & Winsemann, J. (2017). 3D architecture of cyclic-step and antidune deposits in glacigenic subaqueous fan and delta settings: Integrating outcrop and ground-penetrating radar data. Sedimentary Geology, 362, 83–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2017.10.011

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