Architecture of deposits formed in a tectonically generated tidal strait, upper Baronia Fm., Ager Basin, South Central Pyrenees, Spain
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The upper Baronia Fm. of the Ager Basin, Spain, is composed of a hierarchy of prominently stacked sets of primarily unidirectional cross-strata in units up to 40m thick. These large sets of cross-strata are interpreted as deposits of migrating subaqueous tidal simple dunes, compound dunes, and compound dune complexes within an approximately 10km wide north-east to south-west oriented seaway with water depths of a calculated 60-90m. These interpretations are opposed to prior interpretations of the upper Baronia Fm. which suggests deposits were formed by tidal bars within a deltaic environment (Mutti et al., 1985). Dunes developed due to dominantly north-east directed tidal currents driven through the strait by tidal phase differences between the two bodies of water (Mediterranean and Atlantic basins) connected by the seaway. Evidence for syn-tectonic deposition further constrains timing of movement of the northern basin bounding Montsec thrust to the early Eocene. Indicators for movement on the Montsec thrust include the development of the Ager Basin elongate to the thrust front, and syn-tectonic signals in the fill of the basin such as local conglomerate wedges and emplacement of olistoliths. Individual cross-stratified successions are interpreted to have formed with variable flow velocity and orientation, resulting in a basin wide stacking of compound dune complexes. These compound dune complexes form cross stratified successions which are distributed throughout the basin according to the variable current speeds, dune size which impacts migration, and sediment availability during deposition. This results in the observed distributions of muddy and sandy sediments, where finer grained materials accumulate preferentially in the low energy troughs of the hierarchy of compound dunes.