Sequence stratigraphy of a wave-dominated, tidally influenced delta in the Danian of Seymour Island, Antarctica: An integrated sedimentological–palaeoecological approach
Lower Paleocene marine siliciclastics of the Sobral Formation (Seymour Island, Antarctica) form an important component of a key southern high latitude reference section for the Maastrichtian–Eocene. The formation comprises a coarsening-upward, regressive succession (270 m thick), shallowing from prodeltaic, mud-rich to sandy nearshore sediments. Sedimentary facies analysis, integrated with macrofaunal and microfloral palaeoecological studies, indicate a wave-dominated, tidally influenced deltaic environment. Four depositional sequences (1–4) record the role of relative sea-level changes in controlling the stepwise progradation of the system. Prodeltaic and distal delta-front deposits (Sequences 1, 2), comprise coarsening-upward parasequences of mud-rich heteroliths and bioturbated fine-grained muddy sands displaying draped slump scars. The overlying erosional sequence boundary is marked by incised valleys filled with fluvio-estuarine sediments; succeeding sand-rich facies (Sequences 3, 4) represent the proximal delta front and delta platform. The macro-invertebrate and palynological datasets display contrasting responses to the regressive history of the formation. The macrofaunal record in the distal deltaic sediments reflects the marine influence, though a stratigraphic increase in diversity was controlled both by ecological factors and biotic recovery following the K–Pg event. The associated palynological assemblage also displays a strong marine signal and includes typical outer neritic – oceanic dinoflagellate cyst taxa. A sharp decline in macrofossil diversity and abundance in Sequences 3, 4 is compatible with ecological stress in shallow-water, restricted inshore settings. Though the palynological record at this level is terrestrially dominated, the marine component reflects the cosmopolitan nature of dinoflagellates, displaying the highest diversities in the formation. The regressive Sobral Formation ended a protracted c. 60 Myr history of regional subsidence and marine sedimentation; although amplified by two Danian sea-level falls of probable eustatic origin, the regressive trend heralded mid-Paleocene basin inversion potentially linked to the onset of regional tectonic reorganization that ultimately led to opening of the Scotia Sea.
Authors: Ineson, Jon R., Bowman, Vanessa C., Crame, J. Alistair ORCID record for J. Alistair Crame, Francis, Jane E., Whittle, Rowan J. ORCID record for Rowan J. Whittle