Sequence of structures in fine-grained turbidites: Comparison of recent deep-sea and ancient flysch sediments

Dorrik A.V. Stow, Ganapathy Shanmugam

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335 Citations (Scopus)


A comparative study of the sequence of sedimentary structures in ancient and modern fine-grained turbidites is made in three contrasting areas. They are (1) Holocene and Pleistocene deep-sea muds of the Nova Scotian Slope and Rise, (2) Middle Ordovician Sevier Shale of the Valley and Ridge Province of the Southern Appalachians, and (3) Cambro-Ordovician Halifax Slate of the Meguma Group in Nova Scotia.
A standard sequence of structures is proposed for fine-grained turbidites. The complete sequence has nine sub-divisions that are here termed T0 to T8. “The lower subdivision (T0) comprises a silt lamina which has a sharp, scoured and load-cast base, internal parallel-lamination and cross-lamination, and a sharp current-lineated or wavy surface with ‘fading-ripples’ (= Type C etc. …).” (= Type C ripple-drift cross-lamination, Jopling and Walker, 1968). The overlying sequence shows textural and compositional grading through alternating silt and mud laminae. A convolute-laminated sub-division (T1) is overlain by low-amplitude climbing ripples (T2), thin regular laminae (T3), thin indistinct laminae (T4), and thin wipsy or convolute laminae (T5). The topmost three divisions, graded mud (T6), ungraded mud (T7) and bioturbated mud (T8), do not have silt laminae but rare patchy silt lenses and silt pseudonodules and a thin zone of micro-burrowing near the upper surface.
The proposed sequence is analogous to the Bouma (1962) structural scheme for sandy turbidites and is approximately equivalent to Bouma's (C)DE divisions. The repetition of partial sequences characterizes different parts of the slope/base-of-slope/basin plain environment, and represents deposition from different stages of evolution of a large, muddy, turbidity flow. Microstructural detail and sequence are well preserved in ancient and even slightly metamorphosed sediments. Their recognition is important for determining depositional processes and for palaeoenvironmental interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-42
Number of pages10
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1980


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