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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sedimentary Geology, Elsevier B.V., Volume 334, p.66-96 (2016)




Catchments, deposits, erosion, Landforms, Petroleum geology, Pipeline bends, Rivers, Sedimentology, tectonics


<p>Classical models developed for ancient fluvial point bars are based on the assumption that meander bends invariably increase their radius as meander-bend apices migrate in a direction transverse to the channel-belt axis (i.e., meander bend expansion). However, many modern meandering rivers are also characterized by down-valley migration of the bend apex, a mechanism that takes place without a significant change in meander radius and wavelength. Downstream-migrating fluvial point bars (DMFPB) are the dominant architectural element of these types of meander belts. Yet they are poorly known from ancient fluvial-channel belts, since their disambiguation from expansional point bars often requires fully-3D perspectives. This study aims to review DMFPB deposits spanning in age from Devonian to Holocene, and to discuss their main architectural and sedimentological features from published outcrop, borehole and 3D-seismic datasets. Fluvial successions hosting DMFPB mainly accumulated in low accommodation conditions, where channel belts were affected by different degrees of morphological (e.g., valleys) or tectonic (e.g., axial drainage of shortening basins) confinement. In confined settings, bends migrate downstream along the erosion-resistant valley flanks and little or no floodplain deposits are preserved. Progressive floor aggradation (e.g., valley filling) allow meander belts with DMFPB to decrease their degree of confinement. In less confined settings, meander bends migrate downstream mainly after impinging against older, erosion-resistant channel fill mud. By contrast, tectonic confinement is commonly associated with uplifted alluvial plains that prevented meander-bend expansion, in turn triggering downstream translation. At the scale of individual point bars, translational morphodynamics promote the preservation of downstream-bar deposits, whereas the coarser-grained upstream and central beds are less frequently preserved. However, enhanced preservation of upstream-bar deposits can be controlled by aggradation at the scale of the entire meander belt. Despite their different preservation potential, the sedimentology of downstream-bar deposits is overall similar to that of expansional bars, since a downstream decrease in grain size and dominance of upbar-directed palaeoflows are observed in both cases. Bar-tail deposits are instead distinctive of DMFPB, specifically when channel-flow impinges at high angle against river outer banks. There, fine-grained counter-point bars or coarse-grained eddy-accretion deposits can accumulate. Channel belts dominated by DMFPB develop cross-sectional configurations featuring two main marginal trenches, commonly filled with bar tail deposits. 2016 Elsevier B.V.</p>


Compilation and indexing terms, Copyright 2018 Elsevier Inc.<br/>20160601910017<br/>Architectural element<br/>Cross-sectional configurations<br/>Degree of confinement<br/>Erosion resistant<br/>Floodplain deposits<br/>Meander bends<br/>Point bar<br/>Preservation potential