Physiographic features and stratification types of coarse-grained point bars: modern and ancient examples

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McGowen, J. H.
Garner, L. E.

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University of Texas at Austin. Bureau of Economic Geology


Primary sedimentary structures in modern point-bar deposits of the Amite River in Louisiana and the Colorado River in Texas are analogous to features observed in Eocene Simsboro and Pleistocene Colorado River deposits of the Texas Gulf Coastal Plain. Short-duration peak flow, channel pattern, average stream gradient of about 2 to 3 ft/mi, and bank stabilization by dense vegetation are major parameters controlling the depositional pattern of coarse sand and pebble gravel of the Amite and Colorado Rivers. Stratification is directly related to specific depositional features and consists of: large-scale trough-fill cross-stratification in the scour pool; trough-fill cross-stratification and foreset cross-stratification in the lower point bar; parallel laminae, large foreset cross-stratification, and trough-fill cross-stratification in the chute bar, parallel-inclined laminae, climbing ripple laminae, and mud drapes in the chute fill, and parallel inclined laminae, mud drape, and foreset crossstratification in overbank, floodplain deposits. Fundamental differences between point bars of bed-load streams (low suspended load/bed-load ratio) and mixed-load streams (high suspended load/bed-load ratio) are that upper point-bar sed iments with small trough sets and parallel-inclined laminae occur only in fine-grained (mixed load) fluvial deposits, and large-scale foresets of chute bars are common to coarse-grained (bed load) fluvial deposits but are not found in fine-grained fluvial deposits. Upward-fining sequences, characteristic of fine-grained fluvial deposits, are uncommon in sediments deposited by bed-load streams such as the Amite and Colorado Rivers. The Simsboro Sandstone consists mainly of scour-pool, lower point-bar, and chute-bar sediments. Chute-fill and floodplain deposits are preserved only in the highest stratigraphic sequence. Pleistocene Colorado River deposits display the same sequence of stratification types as the Simsboro but are composed of coarser material.


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McGowen, J. H., and Garner, L. E., 1975, Physiographic Features and Stratification Types of Coarse-Grained Point Bars: Modern and Ancient Examples: The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, Geological Circular 75-9, 27 p.