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UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

Past Environments: Reconstruction of a River and a Delta from Sedimentary


Logs Tarea 3

Today we will reconstruct the path of a meandering river system and its interaction with the
sea based on the interpretation of sedimentary logs. Rivers are extremely common terrestrial
landforms, and both erosional and depositional environments. Rivers typically terminate where
they meet a lake, or more commonly the sea, and most frequently produce a delta which can
be of various forms (think back to Geociencias).

Your task:
Based on the information provided, you need to reconstruct the meandering river system and
its delta where it meets the sea. Note, however, that rather like the real world, there is no one
single correct answer this is an interpretation based on the data provided. The key element is
that your interpretation is consistent with the sedimentary logs provided, and with the
processes which are known to occur in river and delta environments.

Data:
You are provided with a blank map, showing the location of 17 boreholes. Each borehole has
its top at a common horizon, and has been numbered 1 to 17. Each of the sedimentary facies
has been logged, and you are provided with the 17 sedimentary logs, together with the key to
the symbols used. You are also provided with some general information on meandering rivers,
siliciclastic shorelines and delta environments that you met in the lectures.

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

Procedure:
1. Look at the various sedimentary logs and the associated key. Annotate the logs with
relevant information, such as grain size and grain size variation, presence of plant roots,
marine shells, ripples, etc.
2. Look for common, repeated, elements within the logs, and try to identify the environmental
significance the features you have identified, i.e. do they represent a terrestrial, freshwater or
marine setting, and what is the energy level in that environment. Consider, for instance, the
environmental significance of mud compared to sand or gravel.
3. Starting at the top of the logs (and remembering the top of each log represents a time
horizon), work out the approximate boundary between the sea and the land, and any transition
zones which seem to be influenced by both marine and fresh water.
4. On the terrestrial side of the map, use the former flow directions to try to work out where the
most recent river channel is. Using all the information provided, what you have learned in the
lecture, as well as information from your background reading, try to work out where the
different parts of the meandering river are located.
5. Do the same for the delta and marine systems.
6. Now begin to work with the logs at depth. Work out, for instance, where river channels were
previously located, and how they have migrated, thereby building up your map into a coherent
whole, covering as much of the area as you can. This depth information will also help to inform
your interpretation of the most recent land, delta and seafloor surfaces.
7. Once you have completed your map, give a name to each environment or sub-environment,
and try to classify the delta in terms of which parts are river-dominated, marine-dominated, or
tidally influenced. Are any of the parts of the delta likely to be influenced by more than one of
these processes?
6. Draw a cross-section approximately along the line of logs 1-2-3-4 to show the changing
environments in space (along the most recent land surface) and time (depth within the
sedimentary record). Remember to include the likely palaeo-topography, remembering the top
of each log represents an ancient depositional or erosional surface.
7. Draw a cross-section approximately along the line of logs 1-5-9-14, to show the changing
environments in space and time, with the likely palaeo-topography.
8. No vertical scale is given on the logs. Based on your cross-section, do you think the scale is
likely to be the same for all the logs, or are some scales different to others?

Tarea 3: Hand in your completed map, cross-sections and answer to


question 8 before the deadline given by your laboratory professor.

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

Generalized information on river, shoreline and delta environments, with idealized


sedimentary logs

A generalized drawing of a meandering river system showing some features and terminology,
and an idealized sedimentary log

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

Generalized drawings of a clastic shoreline showing some of the features and terminology, and
an idealized sedimentary log

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

A generalized drawing of a delta system showing some of the features and terminology, and
an idealized sedimentary log

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

The arrows adjacent to some of the sedimentary logs give the palaeoflow direction determined
from the sediments, relative to the north arrow provided on the map, i.e. an arrow pointing to
the right would indicate a palaeoflow direction to the east (090 degrees)

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction

UniversidaddelosAndesGeosciencesSedimentologiayEstratigrafia,River&deltareconstruction