Depositional settings and palynofacies assemblages of the Upper Triassic fluviodeltaic Mungaroo formation, northern Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia

Joe Scibiorski, Daniel Peyrot, Simon Lang, Tobias H.D. Payenberg, Adam Charles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Palynofacies analysis was carried out on 92 core samples from the fluvio-deltaic Middle to Upper Triassic Mungaroo Formation, Northern Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia. The analyses demonstrate that each depositional environment (''depofacies'') sampled has a characteristic palynofacies assemblage reflecting the varied origins, transport, sorting, and preservation histories of organic particles in sediments. The sampling covered a wide range of depofacies identified in fluvial channel, floodplain, crevasse splay, distributary channel, and tidal zone paleoenvironments and included laminated to massive mudstones and siltstones, cross-bedded sandstones, immature pedogenically altered paleosols, and coals. Although each depofacies has a characteristic palynofacies association, there is a high degree of variability within and overlap between preparations. Black-opaque particles were the dominant component in active fluvial, crevasse, and distributary channels. In contrast, palynomorphs, brown wood particles, and cuticle were more common in abandoned channels, floodplain lakes, and other lower-energy environments. The composition of palynomorphs also varies greatly between depofacies due to factors including the bioproductivity of the surrounding vegetation source area, water-table levels, preservation potential, and the fluid dynamic properties of organic particles. The depofacies were grouped into five ''process regimes'' (active channels, abandoned channels, lakes and periodically flooded areas, paleosols and swamps, tidal mudflats) based on their dominant depositional process. Depofacies in the same process regime tended to have similar palynofacies associations. Active channels yielded similar assemblages irrespective of whether they were fluvial, crevasse, or distributary channels because their dominant characteristic is high flow energy, which encourages the bypass of finer-grained particles, enhances the mechanical degradation of plant debris, and may inhibit local vegetation growth. Organic particles found in lower-energy environments (e.g., floodplain lakes) are on average larger, more elongate, and better preserved than particles found in high-energy environments (e.g., active channels). Although this study was restricted to samples from the upper Samaropollenites speciosus and lower Minutosaccus crenulatus biostratigraphic zones in a geographically limited area, its results are not influenced by the specific taxonomic composition of the vegetation but by the physiographic structure of surrounding plant communities; this suggests that palynofacies analysis could be used to distinguish depositional environments in deltaic settings from other stratigraphic intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-428
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Sedimentary Research
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2020

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