Proterozoic fluvial styles: response to changes in accommodation space (Rivieradal sandstones, eastern North Greenland)

Martin Sønderholm, Henrik Tirsgaard

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42 Citationer (Scopus)


Fluvial styles recorded by the uppermost part of the Neoproterozoic 'Rivieradal sandstones' succession of eastern North Greenland reflect variations in rate of generated accommodation space and possibly climatic changes. Three facies associations, arranged in two genetic sequences, are recognised within the sucession. The lower sequence initially records little available accommodation space. A high degree of reworking results in sheet-like, high-energy, bed-load-dominated, braided river deposits lacking recurrent facies patterns. As accommodation space increases upwards through the sequence, reduction in reworking is recorded by the development of fining- and thickening-upward muddy fluvial cycles. Evidence of desiccation or prolonged periods of drought are absence within the deposits and climate was probably relatively humid. Channel deposits in the lower sequence reflect mixed-load, braided fluvial systmes with stable channel banks and floodplains, and the gradient appears to have been low to moderate. These features are generally considered favourable for the establishment of meandering river systems, but channels, nevertheless, retained an overall braided character and their depsotis show no evidence of meandering. Despite indications of a climatic setting without significant periods of drought sediments indicate that large fluctuations in discharge occurred within the mixed-load streams and this is suggested to be the main cuase for the absence of meandering. The swift and rather dramatic response of the fluvial systems to changes in precipitation, probably resulted from rapid runoff rates caused by the absence of vegetation. The upper sequence shows an initial return to shallow, sandy briaded river deposition recording little available accommodation space. A subsequent increase in the rate of generated accommodation space is indicated by the presence of alternating sheet sandstones and sand-streaked mudstones with abundant desiccation cracks. The sheet sandstones show evidence of high-energy, unconfined ephemeral fluvial flash-flood deposition, while the mudstones are interpreted to represent muddy floodplain deposits. The change in fluvial style, combined with the widespread evidence of desiccation, suggest an evolution towards a more semi-arid climate in the upper sequence. This climatic change could account for the reduced clastic input seen in the overlying marine succession which culminated in carbonate platform deposition. The present study suggests that even under conditions considered favourable for the formation of meandering streams, these will rarely occur in Proterozoic deposits due to the lacking influence of vegetation. Although meandering deposits cannot be ruled out as having formed in pre-vegetational times, the conditions for their formation appear to have been even more restricted than previously realised.

Sider (fra-til)257-274
Antal sider18
TidsskriftSedimentary Geology
Udgave nummer1-4
StatusUdgivet - sep. 1998


  • Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer


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