Early Cretaceous alluvial palaeosols (Kirkwood formation, Algoa Basin, South Africa) and their palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatological significance

Frost, Susan (1996) Early Cretaceous alluvial palaeosols (Kirkwood formation, Algoa Basin, South Africa) and their palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatological significance. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The Kirkwood Formation in the Bushman's River area of the Algoa Basin is characterised by a number of fining-upward cycles. These have been interpreted as indicating deposition in a dynamic aggrading meandering river system with the channel deposits (conglomerates grading upwards into sandstones) fining upward into the overbank deposits (mudrocks). Channel, channel-margin and overbank deposits were recognised. The three mudrock sequences logged comprise compound pedofacies sequences of multistorey, simple and cumulative palaeosols. Distinctive palaeopedological features, such as root traces and pedotubules, soil horizons and structures, mottles, and iron-rich and calcareous glaebules and calcareous hardpan lenses and layers were used to identify a number of palaeosols within the mudrock sequences. Each mudrock sequence comprises multistorey entisol, inceptisol, alfisol, ultisol, aridisol and vertisol profiles at different stags of pedogenic maturity. The entisols and inceptisols are relatively immature profiles formed close to the meandering river channel and are classified as channel-margin palaeosols. The ultisols, alfisols, aridisols and vertisols are more mature and formed at some distance from the channel. They are classified as proximal floodbasin or distal floodbasin palaeosols depending on their maturity, distance from the channel and grain-size. Slickensides, desiccation cracks, and iron-rich concretions occur, indicating multiple cycles of wetting and drying. A low water-table beneath the floodplain is indicated by both the prominent maroon-brown colouration of the mudstones, caused by oxidation during deposition, and the general lack of evaporites in the sequence. Calcretes comprising calcic and petrocalcic horizons are very common in the lower mudrock sequence, rare in the middle mudrock sequence and relatively common in the upper mudrock sequence. The calcretes generally consist a nodular zone which may, in some cases, be capped by a thin hardpan layer. The calcic palaeosols commonly show stages of carbonate accumulation which indicate at least 10 000 years of formation. The lack of calcrete formation in some of the profiles may indicate frequent flooding and high sediment accretion rates or a decrease in the influx of Ca²⁺-rich aeolian dust into the depositional basin. Clay alluviation is common in many of the profiles and soil structures are commonly well developed. The palaeosols are interpreted as having formed on an aggrading floodplain in a warm to hot (25-30°C), semi-arid climate with a low but seasonal rainfall (100-500mm per annum).

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Kirkwood Formation, Bushman's River, Algoa Basin, South Africa, Fining-upward cycles, Deposition, River system, Conglomerates, Sandstone, Mudrocks, Palaeosols, Water table, Calcretes, Flooding, Clay alluviation, Floodplain, Climate
Subjects:Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Geology
Supervisors:Hiller, Norton and Jacob, R.E.
ID Code:4084
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:19 Nov 2012 06:01
Last Modified:19 Nov 2012 06:01
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