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Architectural evolution of a mixed-influenced deltaic succession: Lower-to-Middle Ordovician Armorican Quartzite in the southwest Central Iberian Zone, Penha Garcia Formation (Portugal)

Abstract

Facies stacking patterns and stratigraphic relationships resulting from the interaction of fluvial and wave processes, along with the paleoshoreline orientation and key surfaces, are essential to understand the temporal changes in the rate of change of accommodation space (A) versus sediment supply rate (S). High-frequency sea-level fluctuations in deltaic systems are controlled by changing accommodation and accumulation, which are explained mainly by autocyclic or allocyclic mechanisms. In deltaic systems, changes in the A/S ratio can be showed by significant variations of the internal facies architecture and the external morphology of the delta complex. These criteria have been used to investigate the relationship between autocyclic and allocyclic processes on the architectural evolution of a mixed river- and wave-influenced asymmetrical delta during the Lower-to-Middle Ordovician in the southwest Central Iberian Zone, in Portugal. Relying on the sedimentary and ichnological characteristics, the herein defined Penha Garcia Formation is classified into two main groups of facies associations, which are interpreted as deposited in a mixed asymmetrical delta with a trend of along-strike variations between wave-dominated strandplain (updrift) and river-dominated deltaic settings (downdrift). The vertical stacking arrangements of parasequences led to the identification of five depositional phases (I to V). Detailed analysis of geometry and internal architecture of the depositional phases along depositional strike shows a highly variable number of shallowing-upward cycles and facies thicknesses/heterogeneity on the updrift and downdrift side due to changes in rates of accumulation and hydrodynamic processes. The stratigraphic architectural style of the depositional phases I to V, and the trend of the total regressive ascending shoreline trajectory, are evidences that the deposition of the Penha Garcia Formation likely took place under an increasing rate of accommodation due to long-term relative sea-level rise (allocyclic), and high subsidence rates coupled with an increase in sediment supply, which could have been locally amplified by compaction of the prodelta-related muddy beds (autocyclic). This study suggests that in evaluating the autocyclic mechanisms on deltaic processes in short-time scales, there is a remarkable difference in terms of its impact on the internal variability of the depositional phases, both in the updrift and downdrift regions of mixed-influenced asymmetrical deltas. The most important reasons for the different effects of autocyclic mechanisms can be related to facies-dependent differential compaction or local changes in subsidence pattern, differences in the proximity to the distributary channel system, and differences in the influence of intrinsic processes of storm and wave reworking (wave-sweeping mechanisms).

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Acknowledgements

The ideas presented in this paper were partly developed during a long-term collaboration between UNESCO Naturtejo Geopark, Portugal, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences, Iran. The authors would like to acknowledge the field work logistic support along the years provided by the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova in the person of the mayor Armindo Jacinto, Naturtejo, EIM, and the community of Penha Garcia. We also thank the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS) at Zanjan and the Department of Geology of the Faculty of Sciences of Lisbon (FCUL) for providing the necessary laboratory equipment and analyses for this study. CNC wishes to thank to Mário Cachão (FCUL) for his invaluable support along the years; Domingos Costa (municipality of Idanha-a-Nova) safeguarding the Ichnological Park of Penha Garcia, and their ichnological treasures along the years, is greatly recognized as an essential contribution to the scientific ongoing work. The paper is dedicated to the memory of João Geraldes, a young geologist working in the area, an enthusiastic guide for so many tourist groups, schools and scholars, and a dear friend no longer among us. We thank Sven Egenhoff (Colorado State University) and Ulf Linnemann (Senckenberg Museum of Mineralogy and Geology in Dresden, Germany), as well as the Editor in Chief, Wolf-Christian Dullo, for their helpful comments and constructive criticism that greatly improved the manuscript.

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Bayet-Goll, A., de Carvalho, C.N. Architectural evolution of a mixed-influenced deltaic succession: Lower-to-Middle Ordovician Armorican Quartzite in the southwest Central Iberian Zone, Penha Garcia Formation (Portugal). Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) 109, 2495–2526 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-020-01915-8

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Keywords

  • Armorican Quartzite
  • Penha Garcia Formation
  • Mixed-influenced delta
  • Architectural evolution
  • Autocyclic
  • Allocyclic
  • Central Iberian Zone