The Whitmore Point Member of the Moenave Formation: Early Jurassic Dryland Lakes on the Colorado Plateau, Southwestern USA

Lawrence TANNER, Spencer LUKAS

Abstract


The Lower Jurassic Whitmore Point Member of the Moenave Formation in Arizona-Utah, USA, comprises fish- and coprolite-bearing shales, siltstones, sandstones, and minor limestones. These facies were deposited in ephemeral and perennial lakes subject to episodic desiccation and incursions of coarse clastics during floods. Meromictic conditions developed during perennial episodes, probably due to salinity stratification, which enhanced preservation of organic matter in gray to black shales. These lakes formed on the floodout of a north-northwest oriented (relative to modern geography) system of mainly ephemeral streams on a broad and open floodplain. The Whitmore Point Member both overlies and interfingers laterally with alluvial red-bed facies of the Dinosaur Canyon Member of the Moenave Formation. The vertical transition from alluvial to lacustrine sedimentation recorded by the Dinosaur Canyon and Whitmore Point members of the Moenave Formation most probably resulted from a eustatically-controlled rise in base level during the Early Jurassic (Hettangian). The Dinosaur Canyon Member also interfingers laterally with eolian dune deposits of the Wingate Sandstone, which was deposited by winds that reworked coastal plain sediments to the north of the study area. Thus, on this part of the Colorado Plateau, fluvial, lacustrine and eolian sedimentary facies were deposited contemporaneously in laterally adjacent paleoenvironments.

Keywords


lacustrine; ephemeral; perennial; meromictic; dryland; Moenave Formation; Hettangian; Arizona

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