Provenance and Sediment Dispersal in Relation to Paleotectonics and Paleogeography of Sedimentary Basins

  • William R. Dickinson
Part of the Frontiers in Sedimentary Geology book series (SEDIMENTARY)


Provenance interpretations can be used in conjunction with other evidence to test alternate paleogeographic and paleotectonic reconstructions. Where crustal blocks have moved as parts of mobile lithospheric plates, detritus transported from one block to another may record the times during which the two blocks were adjacent. Where orogenic belts are deeply eroded, sediment shed into nearby basins may record the former existence of rock masses removed by erosion from orogenic highlands.

Sediments derived from different types of provenance terrane display contrasting petrofacies, but petrofacies of mixed provenance are common because dispersal paths connecting sediment sources to basins of deposition may be complex. Consequently, the geodynamic relations of different types of sedimentary basins as revealed by their overall morphology, structural relations, and depositional systems do not predict reliably the nature of the petrofacies that some basins contain. Adequate evaluation of sedimentary linkages between varied provenances and basins requires improved understanding of regional paleo-geomorphology and an integrated view of global sediment dispersal.

Sediment dispersal is controlled by distributions of continental blocks and oceanic basins with margins of varying tectonic character, diverse climatic regimes related to paleolatitude and to changing patterns of seas and land-masses, configurations of subduction zones and associated orogenic belts, and locations of large rivers draining highlands and traversing lowlands. Conceptual models that integrate megageomorphology with paleotectonics are thus needed to infer past global patterns of sediment dispersal.

At present, the sinuous world rift system is an interconnected network of linked segments, and the two principal orogenic belts follow portions of two great circles. If the present is a key to the past, these relationships afford potential means to predict the arrangement of continental blocks, oceanic basins, drainage systems, and dispersal paths associated with global paleotectonic regimes. Provenance studies of selected sedimentary assemblages can be used to test reconstructions.


Orogenic Belt Active Continental Margin Continental Block Passive Continental Margin Forearc Basin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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