Wave-dominated deltaic systems of the Upper Cretaceous San Miguel Formation, Maverick Basin, south Texas

Access full-text files




Weise, Bonnie R.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Sandstone units of the Upper Cretaceous San Miguel Formation in South Texas are wave-dominated deltaic sequences deposited during a major marine transgression. San Miguel sediments were deposited in the Maverick Basin within the Rio Grande Embayment. Cross sections and sandstone maps reveal that during deposition of the San Miguel Formation, the Maverick Basin consisted of two subbasins. A western subbasin received sediments from the northwest; the eastern subbasin received sediments from the north. Net-sandstone patterns show that the thickest parts of the sandstone bodies are generally strike oriented; where not eroded, updip sand-feeder systems are indicated by dip-aligned components. The San Miguel deltas vary considerably in morphology and make up a spectrum of wave-dominated delta types. Modern analogs of these San Miguel deltas include the Rhone, Nile, Sao Francisco, Brazos, Danube, Kelantan, and Grijalva deltas. Final sandstone geometries depended on three primary factors: (1) rate of sediment input, (2) wave energy, and (3) rate of sea-level change. Delta morphology was determined by all three factors, but the degree of reworking of deltaic sediments after delta abandonment was determined by wave energy and rate of transgression. The most common vertical sequences in the San Miguel coarsen upward from silt and clay to fine sand. Burrows are the dominant structures. The few primary structures are of small scale; large-scale cross beds are observed only in outcrop. Strandplain or barrier-island facies sequences, which prevail in most wave-dominated deltaic deposits, are incomplete in the San Miguel. In most places, only the lower shoreface is preserved. The upper parts of the sequences, which normally bear large-scale primary structures, were lost by marine reworking during subsequent transgressions. Intense burrowing destroyed any primary structures at the tops of the truncated sequences. Most of the San Miguel sandstones are arkoses. Cements include sparry and poikilotopic calcite, quartz overgrowths, feldspar overgrowths, illite rims, and kaolinite. The primary destroyers of porosity are the two types of calcite cement, which tend to completely cement the coarsest, best sorted, and originally most porous zones of the San Miguel vertical sequences. Zones of secondary porosity resulted from leaching of shell material, calcite cement, and feldspars. Laterally, the zones of either high secondary porosity or calcite cementation are unpredictable.