High-resolution correlation framework of the Grayburg Formation-Shattuck Escarpment and Plowman Ridge : testing models of shelf-to-basin frameworks


The San Andres and Grayburg Formations are important stratigraphic units for constructing correlation frameworks of the Guadalupe Mountains because these strata record the transition between the ramp profiles of the San Andres along the Algerita Escarpment and the reef-rimmed platforms of the Capitan Formation of the southern Guadalupe Mountains (Franseen et al. 1989). Sarg et al. (1999) and Kerans and Tinker (1999) have published significantly different models of shelf-to-basin correlations within this stratigraphic interval. Central to the debate is the correlation of mixed carbonate-siliciclastic strata exposed at Plowman Ridge in the Brokeoff Mountains to the better-constrained strata along the Shattuck Escarpment in the Guadalupe Mountains. This study applies high-resolution cyclostratigraphy, inorganic carbon isotope geochemistry, and sequence stratigraphic concepts to test the hypothesis that the strata exposed at Plowman Ridge are equivalent to Grayburg strata exposed at the Shattuck Escarpment in the southern Guadalupe Mountains (Kerans and Nance 1991, Kerans and Kempter 2002). The shelf-to-basin cyclostratigraphic framework of the Grayburg Formation used in this study was established at the Shattuck Escarpment with data compiled from nine detailed measured sections, high-resolution photopans, and petrographic analysis. Based on one- and two-dimensional cycle stacking analysis, the Grayburg Formation was divided into three high-frequency sequences (HFSs). The high-frequency sequences contain transgressive systems tracts separated by maximum flooding surfaces from the highstand systems tracts. The Grayburg high-frequency sequences are composed of between 6 and 20 high-frequency cycles (HFCs), which were identified and classified into vertical facies successions. The Grayburg succession at Shattuck section 7 (32.09ᵒ, -104.81ᵒ) was selected as the reference section from the Guadalupe Mountains for comparison with Plowman section PR1 (32.03ᵒ, -104.89ᵒ) in the Brokeoff Mountains. Correlation between sections is documented at the 3rd-order composite sequence, high-frequency sequence, and when feasible, high-frequency cycle scale. Three high-frequency sequences recognized at Plowman Ridge section PR1 are equivalent to the G10, G11, and G12 Grayburg sequences described at Shattuck section 7. Correlation of the Grayburg G10-G12 high-frequency sequences with the three sequences at Plowman Ridge is based on comparison of overall thicknesses, facies proportions, cycle number, vertical facies succession, stratigraphic position of diagnostic units, and excursions within the inorganic carbon isotope profiles taken from both sections. Establishing the links between Grayburg strata on the Shattuck wall with strata on Plowman Ridge corroborates the framework/correlation scheme of Kerans and Tinker (1999) in lieu of other published correlation frameworks.