Seismic Stratigraphy of Lower Cretaceous Foreland Basin Submarine Fans in the North Slope, Alaska

  • Kenneth J. McMillen
Part of the Frontiers in Sedimentary Geology book series (SEDIMENTARY)


A sequence stratigraphic interpretation of the Aptian/Albian sedimentary fill of the Colville Trough, North Slope, Alaska recognizes a variety of clastic rocks deposited in the foreland basin in the ancestral Brooks Range. Submarine fans are a major part of this sedimentary fill and consist of alternating units of sandstone and shale that are up to tens to hundreds of meters thick.

Seismic character of the Colville Trough includes basinal, submarine-fan, slope, and shelf or delta facies. Basinal sediments have a sheet-like external form and consist of moderate-amplitude, parallel reflections in sandy units and low-amplitude, parallel reflections in shaley intervals. Submarine fans have mounded external and internal reflection geometry. Slope facies consist of low-amplitude, discontinuous reflections and isolated continuous reflections in sigmoid and tangential clinoforms. Shelf and deltaic facies are characterized by parallel, moderate-amplitude reflections.

Lowstand systems tracts are recognized that consist of basin floor fan and slope fan. Separate transgressive systems tracts have not been recognized, possibly because they are thin due to a slow sediment accumulation rate accompanying rapid transgression. Highstand systems tracts exist that can be subdivided into (1) an aggradational/progradational unit, and (2) two or more progradational units by continuous, basinwarddipping slope reflections that correlate to low-velocity slope shales. Sand-prone basin-floor submarine fans exist within lowstand systems tracts whereas shale-prone fans correspond to highstand systems tracts. The basin-floor and highstand submarine fans, progradational units, and shale markers demonstrate a cyclicity in sedimentation that may be caused by climate-induced changes in base level and in the rate of sediment input to the basin.


System Tract Foreland Basin North Slope Highstand System Tract Transgressive System Tract 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

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  • Kenneth J. McMillen

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