Intra-clinothem variability in sedimentary texture and process regime recorded down slope profiles

Grace I.E. Cosgrove*, Miquel Poyatos-Moré, David R. Lee, David M. Hodgson, William D. McCaffrey, Nigel P. Mountney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Shelf-margin clinothem successions can archive process interactions at the shelf to slope transition, and their architecture provides constraints on the interplay of factors that control basin-margin evolution. However, detailed textural analysis and facies distributions from shelf to slope transitions remain poorly documented. This study uses quantitative grain-size and sorting data from coeval shelf and slope deposits of a single clinothem that crops out along a 5 km long, dip-parallel transect of the Eocene Sobrarbe Deltaic Complex (Ainsa Basin, south-central Pyrenees, Spain). Systematic sampling of sandstone beds tied to measured sections has captured vertical and basinward changes in sedimentary texture and facies distributions at an intra-clinothem scale. Two types of hyperpycnal flow-related slope deposits, both rich in mica and terrestrial organic matter, are differentiated according to grain size, sorting and bed geometry: (i) sustained hyperpycnal flow deposits, which are physically linked to coarse channelized sediments in the shelf setting and which deposit sand down the complete slope profile; (ii) episodic hyperpycnal flow deposits, which are disconnected from, and incise into, shelf sands and which are associated with sediment bypass of the proximal slope and coarse-grained sand deposition on the medial and distal slope. Both types of hyperpycnites are interbedded with relatively homogenous, organic-free and mica-free, well-sorted, very fine-grained sandstones, which are interpreted to be remobilized from wave-dominated shelf environments; these wave-dominated deposits are found only on the proximal and medial slope. Coarse-grained sediment bypass into the deeper-water slope settings is therefore dominated by episodic hyperpycnal flows, whilst sustained hyperpycnal flows and turbidity currents remobilizing wave-dominated shelf deposits are responsible for the full range of grain sizes in the proximal and medial slope, thus facilitating clinoform progradation. This novel dataset highlights previously undocumented intra-clinothem variability related to updip changes in the shelf process-regime, which is therefore a key factor controlling downdip architecture and resulting sedimentary texture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-456
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Bypass
  • clinothem
  • hyperpycnal
  • process regime
  • river dominated
  • texture
  • wave dominated


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