Amalgamation surfaces, bed thicknesses, and dish structures in sand-rich submarine fans: Numeric differences in channelized and unchannelized deposits and their diagnostic value

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Hydraulic differences between channelized and unchannelized flows in sand-rich submarine fans result in different distributions of amalgamation surfaces, bed thicknesses, and dish structures in successions of these two different environments. Distribution trends of these fabrics were quantified for the sand-rich fans of the Reiselsberger Sandstein (Cenomanian - Turonian). These trends can be used as criteria to distinguish channelized from unchannelized paleoenvironments of sand-rich submarine fans. Amalgamation surfaces in the studied fans' channelized regions are considerably more abundant than in the unchannelized fan areas. In unchannelized deposits, tabular amalgamation surfaces outnumber nontabular ones, whereas the opposite occurs in channelized successions. These results indicate a higher degree of erosive power of gravity-driven sediment flows in channels as a result of a greater flow thickness, higher flow velocity, and turbulence. The average turbidite layer thickness in channelized successions is markedly greater than in unchannelized deposits ("layer" as defined herein). This is mainly attributed to the combined effects of differences in sediment fall-out rate and the inefficiency of sand-rich suspensions to transport sand. In the proximal and channelized fan areas, more sediment is deposited from a flow in the form of a layer than in distal unchannelized fan regions despite a higher degree of erosion in channels. The greater average bed thickness in channel fills is a function of layer thickness and more frequent amalgamations ("bed" as defined herein). Dish structures seem to be considerably more common in midfan than in outer-fan successions. This may indicate a higher sedimentation rate from individual suspension currents in midfan areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-228
Number of pages26
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2002



  • Amalgamation
  • Dish structures
  • Facies
  • Reiselsberger Sandstein
  • Submarine fans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy

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