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Grain size controls on the morphology and internal geometry of river-dominated deltas

Burpee, Alexander P.; Slingerland, Rudy L.; Edmonds, Douglas A.; Parsons, Daniel; Best, Jim; Cederberg, James; McGuffin, Andrew; Caldwell, Rebecca; Nijhuis, Austin; Royce, Jordan


Alexander P. Burpee

Rudy L. Slingerland

Douglas A. Edmonds

Jim Best

James Cederberg

Andrew McGuffin

Rebecca Caldwell

Austin Nijhuis

Jordan Royce


Predictions of a delta's morphology, facies, and stratigraphy are typically derived from its relative wave, tide, and river energies, with sediment type playing a lesser role. Here we test the hypothesis that, all other factors being equal, the topset of a relatively noncohesive, sandy delta will have more active distributaries, a less rugose shoreline morphology, less topographic variation in its topset, and less variability in foreset dip directions than a highly cohesive, muddy delta. As a consequence its stratigraphy will have greater clinoform dip magnitudes and clinoform concavity, a greater percentage of channel facies, and less rugose sand bodies than a highly cohesive, muddy delta. Nine self-formed deltas having different sediment grain sizes and critical shear stresses required for re-entrainment of mud are simulated using Deflt3D, a 2D flow and sediment-transport model. Model results indicate that sand-dominated deltas are more fan-shaped while mud-dominated deltas are more birdsfoot in planform, because the sand-dominated deltas have more active distributaries and a smaller variance of topset elevations, and thereby experience a more equitable distribution of sediment to their perimeters. This results in a larger proportion of channel facies in sand-dominated deltas, and more uniformly distributed clinoform dip directions, steeper dips, and greater clinoform concavity. These conclusions are consistent with data collected from the Goose River Delta, a coarse-grained fan delta prograding into Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. A reinterpretation of the Kf-1 parasequence set of the Cretaceous Last Chance Delta, a unit of the Ferron Sandstone near Emery, Utah, USA uses Ferron grain-size data, clinoform-dip data, clinoform concavity, and variance of dip directions to hindcast the delta's planform. The Kf-1 Last Chance Delta is predicted to have been more like a fan delta in planform than a birdsfoot delta.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2015-05
Journal Journal of sedimentary research
Print ISSN 1527-1404
Publisher Society for Sedimentary Geology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 85
Issue 6
Pages 699-714
APA6 Citation Burpee, A. P., Slingerland, R. L., Edmonds, D. A., Parsons, D., Best, J., Cederberg, J., …Royce, J. (2015). Grain size controls on the morphology and internal geometry of river-dominated deltas. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 85(6), 699-714.
Keywords Delta; Stratigraphy; Ferron sandstone; Cohesion; Clinoform
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2016 University of Hull
Additional Information This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article published in Journal of sedimentary research, 2015, v.85 issue 6.


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