Sequence stratigraphical analysis of late Ordovician and early Silurian depositional systems in the Welsh Basin: A critical assessment

N. H. Woodcock, A. J. Butler, Jeremy Davies, R. A. Waters

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Abstract

Sequence stratigraphical concepts are applied to a 55 km long transect through the uppermost Ordovician and lower Silurian rocks of the Welsh Basin and the adjoining Midland Platform. The study focuses on sedimentary rocks deposited during the Llandovery epoch (about 439–430 Ma).

An early Llandovery slope apron of hemipelagite and laterally supplied mudstone turbidites shows the influence of eustatic sea-level changes. Two complete depositional sequences are recognized. Transgressions and highstands on the platform were accompanied by laminated hemipelagite deposition in the basin, recording anoxic bottom waters in a stratified watermass. The intervening regressions generated unconformities on the platform and produced bioturbated basinal sediments in a more oxic environment.

By contrast, the extent and timing of sandstone-turbidite and debrite systems in the basin are strongly affected by tectonic activity. Easterly derived late Llandovery facies relate directly to faulting and submarine mass wasting along the basin margin. Southerly derived late Llandovery to mid-Wenlock sandstone-lobe systems were the products of tectonic uplift in extrabasinal source areas and were partially confined within intrabasinal tilted fault blocks. Subsidence analysis confirms a basinal stretching event in late Llandovery (Telychian) time and shows that it also affected the adjacent Midland Platform. The depositional systems of this period constitute elements of a dual-sourced depositional sequence, within which eustatic effects are masked by the strong influence of relative base-level changes attendant to tectonism.

The architecture of the early Silurian Welsh Basin illustrates the complexities of applying sequence stratigraphical models where there is an interleaving of several depositional systems, each modulated by a different mix of eustatic, tectonic and input controls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Volume103
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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