Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy of fluvial deposits; a tribute to Andrew Miall, Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Volume 190, p.71-95 (2006)




Athabasca District, Athabasca Formation, basin analysis, basins, braided streams, Canada, clastic rocks, depositional environment, ephemeral streams, Floods, fluvial environment, fluvial sedimentation, geometry, paleoenvironment, Paleoproterozoic, Precambrian, proterozoic, reworking, sandstone, Saskatchewan, sedimentary basins, Sedimentary rocks, sedimentary structures, sedimentation, sinuosity, South Saskatchewan River, streams, upper Precambrian, vegetation, Western Canada


The Late Paleoproterozoic Athabasca Basin contains more than 1.5 km of predominantly sandy strata, most of which are of braided fluvial origin. In the eastern part of the basin, at McClean Lake, sandstones and minor conglomerates of the Read Formation at the base of the succession are preserved within a steep-walled valley system. They consist predominantly of meter-scale sheet elements, characterized by massive and flat-laminated fine- to very coarse-grained sandstone with minor discontinuous cobble and boulder conglomerate along lower set boundaries. These are interpreted as sheet-flood and stream-flood deposits of a terminal dry-land system, deposited in an arid climatic setting. Analysis of closely spaced drill-core indicates that late stage run-off was confined to small shallow channels, typically only a few tens of meters wide and a few meters deep. Overlying strata of the Bird Member of the Manitou Falls Formation are predominantly coarse- to very coarse-grained sandstones with abundant small-scale cross-stratification and minor granule and small pebble conglomerate. At McClean Lake, these appear to have been deposited as sheet-elements by semi-ephemeral to perennial braided rivers under more humid conditions. At Key Lake, 160 km to the southwest, architectural analysis of a 184 m wide section indicates that at least part of the Bird Member was deposited in deeper, sandy-braided rivers characterized by seasonally varied flow. The closest modern analogue is the South Saskatchewan River, in which large simple flow-transverse bedforms become exposed and dissected during falling stage, and act as nuclei for sand-flat development. The presence of numerous low-relief 4th order surfaces suggests continued reworking of bar-tops during rising stage. The incremental character of downstream accretionary elements suggests periodic migration of barforms during peak-flood stages, separated by periods of low flow. This indicates similarities with modern perennial braided systems, and is counter to the idea that all pre-Devonian fluvial systems should consist of stacked sheets formed by individual flood events. Thin gravel layers accumulated as lags on fourth order surfaces, with discontinuous mud layers suggesting deposition within temporary ponds in channel thalwegs after major floods. Strata in overlying units indicate a return to semi-perennial conditions. Abstract Copyright (2006) Elsevier, B.V.


GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geological Institute.<br/>2007-055019<br/>Bird Member<br/>Manitou Falls Formation<br/>McClean Lake<br/>perennial streams