Lithofacies, depositional environments, and sequence stratigraphy of the Pennsylvanian (Morrowan-Atokan) Marble Falls Formation, Central Texas
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The Pennsylvanian Marble Falls Formation in the Llano Uplift region of the southern Fort Worth Basin (Central Texas) is a Morrowan-Atokan mixed carbonate-siliciclastic unit whose deposition was influenced by icehouse glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations and foreland basin tectonics. Previous interpretations of the Marble Falls Formation focused on outcrop data at the fringes of the Llano Uplift. This study uses a series of 21 cores to create a facies architectural model, depositional environmental interpretation, and regional sequence stratigraphic framework. On the basis of core data, the study area is interpreted to have been deposited in a ramp setting with a shallower water upper ramp area to the south and a deeper water basin setting to the north. Analysis of cores and thin sections identified 14 inner ramp to basin facies. Dominant facies are: (1) burrowed sponge spicule packstone, (2) algal grain-dominated packstone to grainstone, (3) skeletal foraminiferal wackestone, and (4) argillaceous mudstone to clay shale. Facies stacking patterns were correlated and combined with chemostratigraphic data to improve interpretations of the unit’s depositional history and form an integrated regional model. The Marble Falls section was deposited during Pennsylvanian icehouse times in a part of the Fort Worth Basin with active horst and graben structures developing in response to the Ouachita Orogeny. The resulting depositional cycles reflect high-frequency sea-level fluctuations and are divided into 3 sequences. Sequence 1 represents aggradational ramp deposition truncated by a major glacioeustatic sea-level fall near the Morrowan-Atokan boundary (SB1). This fall shifted accommodation basinward and previously distal areas were sites of carbonate HST in Sequence 2 deposition following a short TST phase. Sequence 3 represents the final phase of carbonate accumulation that was diachronously drowned by Smithwick siliciclastics enhanced by horst and graben faulting. These findings contribute to our understanding of the depositional response to glacioeustatic sea-level changes during the Pennsylvanian and can also form the basis for constructing a sedimentological and facies analog for Morrowan to Atokan shallow- to deepwater carbonates in the Permian Basin and the northern Fort Worth Basin.