Lorraine E. Lebeau published in Sedimentary Geology, Volume 357

Fluvial channel-belts, floodbasins, and aeolian ergs in the Precambrian Meall Dearg Formation (Torridonian of Scotland): Inferring climate regimes from pre-vegetation clastic rock records

Abstract

The interpretation of climate regimes from facies analysis of Precambrian clastic rocks has been challenging thus far, hindering full reconstructions of landscape dynamics in pre-vegetation environments. Yet, comparisons between different and co-active sedimentary realms, including fluvial-channelised, floodplain, and aeolian hold the potential to shed further light on this thematic. This research discusses a fluvial-aeolian record from the 1.2 Ga Meall Dearg Formation, part of the classic Torridonian succession of Scotland. Tentatively considered to date as a braided-fluvial deposit, this unit is here reappraised as the record of fluvial channel-belts, floodbasins, and aeolian ergs. Fluvial deposits with abundant transitional- to upper-flow regime structures (mostly cross-beds with tangential sets and plane/antidunal beds) and simple, low-relief sediment bars indicate a low-sinuosity, ephemeral style. Floodbasin deposits consist of plane and cross-beds ubiquitously bounded by symmetrical ripples, and rare sediment bars related to the progradation of splay complexes in temporary flooded depressions. Aeolian deposits occur nearby basement topography, and are dominated by large-scale, pin-stripe laminated cross-beds, indicative of intermountain ergs. Neither ephemeral-fluvial nor intermountain aeolian systems can be considered as reliable indicators of local climate, since their sedimentary style is respectively controlled by catchment size and shape, and basin topography relative to groundwater tables. Contrarily, the occurrence of purely clastic – rather than carbonate or evaporitic – floodplain strata can be more confidently related to humid regimes. In brief, this study provides new insight into an overlooked portion of the Torridonian succession of Scotland, and discusses climate inferences for Precambrian clastic terrestrial rocks.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0037073817301380





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