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DEVELOPMENTS IN SEDIMENTOLOGY 10

CYCLIC SEDIMENTATION
FURTHER TITLES IN THIS SERIES
1.
DELTAIC AND SHALLOW MARINE DEPOSITS
L. M. J. U. VAN STRAATEN, Editor
2. G. C. AMSTUTZ, Editor
SEDIMENTOLOGY AND ORE GENESIS
3.
TURBIDITES
A. H. BOUMA and A. BROUWER, Editors
4. F. G. TICKELL
THE TECHNIQUES OF SEDIMENTARY MINERALOGY
5. J. C. INGLE Jr.
THE MOVEMENT OF BEACH SAND
6.
THE IDENTIFICATION OF DETRITAL FELDSPARS
L. VAN DER PLAS Jr.
7.
SEDIMENTARY FEATURES OF FLYSCH AND GREYWACKES
S. DzUEYI?SKY and E. K. WALTON
8.
DIAGENESIS IN SEDIMENTS
G. LARSEN and G. V. CHILINGAR, Editors
9.
CARBONATE ROCKS
G. V. CHILINGAR, H. J. BISSELL and R. W. FAIRBRIDGE, Editors
DEVELOPMENTS IN SEDIMENTOLOGY 10
CYCLIC SEDIMENTATION
BY
P. McL. D. DUFF
A. HALLAM
AND
E. K. WALTON
Grant Institute of Geology
University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Great Britain
ELSEVIER PUBLISHING COMPANY Amsterdam London New York 1967
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PREFACE
Despite the existence of a huge literature this is the first time that a textbook has
been written on the subject of cyclic sedimentation. We cannot claim that our review
of this literature is completely exhaustive, Russian work in particular being under-rep-
resented. We have, however, tried to cover as much of the relevant data as is neces-
sary to allow for adequate consideration of all significant hypotheses.
It has been found desirable to vary the style of treatment of the subject from
chapter to chapter and both the metric and foot-inch scale of stratigraphical meas-
urement have been used. In this wehave been guided by the nature of the data and
the existing literature.
We should like to express our thanks to a number of people whose co-operation
has been invaluable. Dr. D. F. Merriam kindly allowed us to study the unpublished
manuscripts of a number of contributions to an important symposium on cyclic
sedimentation, which appeared as Bulletin 169 of the Kansas Geological Survey
just when our manuscript was going to press. Dr. Merriam also showed two of us
(P. D. and A. H.) some of the classic sections of Late Palaeozoic Kansan cyclothems
and Dr. H. R. Wanless showed one of us (P. D.) important Pennsylvanian sections
in Illinois and Indiana. Grants in aid of travel were provided by the Commonwealth
Fund (A.H.) and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (P.D.). Dr. J.
H, Rattigan obligingly supplied an unpublished manuscript on some Australian
Carboniferous cycles and Prof. F. H. Stewart made helpful comments on Chapter
8. Permission to reproduce text figures has been obtained from the authors or
journals concerned.
We should also like to acknowledge the considerable secretarial work of
Miss A. Lord and the technical help given to us by members of the staff of the
Grant Institute of Geology.
Edinburgh P. McL. D. DUFF
A. HALLAM
E. K. WALTON
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CONTENTS
PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VII
CHAPTER 1 . INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1 Cycles. rhythms and cyclothems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nomenclature of cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Classification and description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Time series and harmonic analysis. 13 - Scale; phase and facies. 18
CHAPTER 2 . CYCLES I N FLUVIAL REGIMES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Cycles in the Old Red Sandstone of Britain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Molasse of Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Fluvio-lacustrine coal-bearing sequences of Gondwanaland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Witwatersrand System of South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Flysch facies in molasse. 35
CHAPTER 3 . CYCLES I N LACUSTRINE REGIMES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Glacial varved clays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Non-glacial lakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Periodicity. 53 - Transportation and sedimentation. 55 . Long-term variations. 60
Varves. 62 . Periodicity. 64 . Sunspot cycles. 66 . Larger cycles. 67
CHAPTER 4 . TRANSITIONAL REGIMES. I-NORTH AMERICA . . . . . . . . . 81
United States of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Eastern Interior Basin. 83 - Mid-Continent Basin. 88 - Appalachian Basin. 97 - Rocky
Mountain region. 102
Nova Scotia. 104
Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Theories of origin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
CHAPTER 5 . TRANSITIONAL REGIMES. 11-EUROPE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Great Britain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Continental Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Visean. Tournaisian and Namurian. 117 - Namurian and Westphalian. 132
Environment of deposition. 148 - Cycle mechanisms. 149
CHAPTER 6 . EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS. I . . . . . . . . . . 157
Calcareous and argillaceous rocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Cycles composed of differing types of limestone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
Cycles composed of limestones and argillaceous beds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Limestonedolomite cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
Minor cycles. 163 - Major cycles. 170
CHAPTER 7 . EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS. I1 . . . . . . . . . 183
Cycles with significant quantities of sandstone. ironstone and phosphorite: minor cycles with
bituminous laminae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Clay-sandstone-limestone cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Clay-sandstone cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Ironstone-bearing cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Phosphorite-bearing cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Minor cycles with bituminous laminae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192
CHAPTER 8 . EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS. I11 . . . . . . . . . 199
Evaporite cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Major cycles with subsidiary evaporites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Cycles with dominant evaporites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
Evaporite vames and solar cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212
CHAPTER 9 . FLYSCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
Modal cycles and composite sequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Ideal (model) cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221
Turbidity currents. 223 - Combined action of turbidity currents and bottom currents. 226 -
Bottom currents. 227
Major and intermediate cycles. 204 - Minor cycles. 209
Megarhythms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
CHAPTER 10 . SEDIMENTARY CYCLES AND FAUNAL CHANGE . . . . . . . . . 233
Faunal succession within major sedimentary cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233
Faunal change between major sedimentary cycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 236
CHAPTER 11 . GENERAL CONCLUSIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
Sedimentary control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242
Tectonic control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
Eustatic control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
Climatic control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
Cycles and time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
Those who accept rhythm in nature will find it even where it is rather indistinct, and they will arrive
at proper conclusions. Those who do not want to, will not find it even where it is obvious.
(Yu. A. ZFJEMCHUZHNKOV, 1958.)
Science, to an extent matched by no other human endeavor, places a premium upon the ability of
the individual to make order out of what appears disordered. Therefore, the scientist more than
anyone else needs to maintain his objectivity about his work, and perhaps even more vigorously,
about himself. (E. J. ZELLER, 1964.)
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Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION
Certain topics within geology, like continental drift, geosynclines and granitisation,
from their inception have been, and continue to be, centres of debate and controversy.
Rhythmic or cyclic sedimentation is one of these. In general terms, which will be
refined later, cyclic sedimentation refers to the repetition through a succession, of rock
units which are organised in a particular order. But even now, after more than a century
of discussion, there is still disagreement on the validity and usefulness of the concept.
To some protagonists the subject is so general as to include the whole of sedimentation
and so has no special meaningl; to others it provides, from apparent disorder, elegant
generalisations which are satisfying in themselves as well as forming a basis for genetic
interpretation.
The simplest case of repetition involves only two components and at this lower
end of the scale it is possible to regard tiny interbedded laminae of, say, silt and clay
as examples of cyclic or rhythmic sedimentation. At the other end of the scale broad
changes in sediment character can span whole systems or even longer intervals. Some
authorities, for example VON BUBNOFF (1948) and SLOSS (1964), refer to cycles of the
order of geological systems or more and WELLER (1964) has shown how stratigraphic
thought in America in the early part of this century was dominated by theories of
large-scale, world-wide cycles of sedimentation. We wish to exclude consideration of
these larger sequences otherwise virtually every succession would have to be discussed.
At the lowest level we would also exclude thin-bedded laminae as being of trivial, local
significance. Thus we do not consider tidal laminae in this discussion but we do
include annual layers or varves. Within these prescribed limits cyclic sedimentation
ranges from clastic, organic or evaporitic varves often less than 1 mm thick, through
sequences of intermediate size (say around a metre or more) up to thicknesses of
tens and hundreds of metres.
CYCLES, RHYTHMS AND CYCLOTHEMS
The pattern of sedimentation which has come to be called cyclic or rhythmic involves
a series of lithological elements (say A, B, etc.) repeated through a succession. The
elements may be combined together (ABC) and referred to as a rhythm or a cycle,
terms which go back at least to the latter part of the last century (see for example
1 Essentially all deposition is cyclic or rhythmic (Tvamom~, 1939, p.502).
2 INTRODUCTION
PEACH, 1888). In the simplest case we may have ABABAB and some authors (for
example FEARNSIDES, 1950; FIEGE, 1952) would restrict the term rhythm to this type
of succession. SANDER (1936), on the other hand, suggested that rhythm be restricted
to those sequences where the rhythmic unit was fairly constant in thickness, whereas
VON BUBNOFF (1948) added a genetic connotation in that he regarded a rhythm as
being of climatic origin. Varves would conform to most of these requirements in that
they are for the most part simple bipartite structures, fairly uniform in thickness per
unit, of strict periodicity and climatic in origin. But the conditions could be fulfilled in
so few cases that the term rhythm would be of very restricted application.
There does not seem to be any strong case for restricting the term rhythm to
simple successions of the ABAB type. There is always the possibility of lenticular
lithologies coming in to change a rhythm into what would be called a cycle; in any
case it is always convenient in descriptions to have a number of synonyms.
There is little guidance from mathematicians on the subject. KENDALL (1947)
suggested that the term cycle be used only when the repetition is regular in time and
SCHWARZACHER (1964), in advocating this usage, recognised that most successions
could only be claimed to show sedimentary oscillations. His scheme has some
attractive features but the term sedimentary oscillations is very cumbersome and
it would probably be difficult to obtain agreement on its use.
Some authors lay importance on the difference between the sequences ABCD-
ABCD and ABCDCBA and would restrict the word cycle to the latter. But, as
ROBERTSON (1948) pointed out, one of the most common expressions in English is
the cycle of the seasons which is of the ABCD ABCD type. Perhaps the simplest
solution is to refer to the ABCD ABCD type as asymmetrical cycles and to the
ABCDCBA type as symmetrical.
Cyclothem is different from the other two terms in that it was introduced
specifically to refer to sedimentary rocks. The word cyclothem is therefore proposed
to designate a series of beds deposited during a single sedimentary cycle of the type
that prevailed during the Pennsylvanian period (WANLESS and WELLER, 1932, p. 1003).
Even so this original definition is not unambiguous. On one interpretation the term
might be restricted to Carboniferous rocks, or even only to Pennsylvanian; on another,
it might be applied more widely to sedimentary cycles of the type that prevailed
during the Pennsylvanian period. In practice, and to the disapproval of WELLER
(1961), later workers have tended to apply the term to rocks of different age and to
rocks of very different lithologies from the Pennsylvanian cyclothems of Illinois
(e.g., P. ALLEN, 1959; HALLAM, 1961; J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a). There now seems no
more reason to restrict the term to Carboniferous rocks than there is to regard cyclic
sedimentation as uniquely confined to that system.
In our opinion the three terms, rhythm, cycle and cyclothem should be regarded
as synonymous except that the latter always refers to sedimentary deposits. Cycle
or rhythm, though referring on most occasions to the deposits, might also denote the
period of time during which certain sediments formed. The use of the terms will be
clear from their context. BEERBOWER (1964) has objected to suggestions of this sort
NOMENCLATURE OF CYCLES 3
on the ground that the original definition of cyclothem implies asymmetry. But many
workers have used the term to cover both types and the well known Kansan cyclo-
thems, for example, include both symmetrical and asymmetrical cycles (R. C. MOORE,
1936; MERRIAM, 1963; R. C. MOORE and MERRIAM, 1965).
We see no prospect of general agreement on, nor any particular advantage in,
the usage of these terms according to arbitrary, restrictive definitions. On the contrary
it should be possible to retain the words as general terms and qualify them as necessary.
If the repetition can be shown to be regular in time then it should be sufficient to apply
a description such as periodic cycle; if the sequence is of the ABAB type then it
could be referred to as a simple cycle or rhythm; and as indicated above, cycles may
be symmetrical or asymmetrical according to the arrangement of elements within the
rhythmic sequence. In this way the terminology can be unambiguous and yet retain a
flexibility denied it by too rigid definitions.
It may not be unreasonable to refer to thin cycles as microcycles, to those of
intermediate size simply as cyclothems or cycles and to thicker sequences as mega-
cyclothems or megacycles. But to attempt to link these sizes to specific causes (for
example microcycles as climatic or epeirogenic and cyclothems as epeirogenic) as
FEGE (1952) has done is dangerous in the extreme. It should also be recognised that
in America megacyclothem tends to have the connotation attached to it by R. C.
MOORE (1936; but see YOUNG, 1955, 1957), that is to describe a cycle of cycles
(see pp.88-94).
Sequences larger than the megacyclothems of R. C. MOORE (1936) have been
called hypercyclothems and magnacycles. WELLER (1961) introduced the term hyper-
cyclothem to cover a cycle of megacyclothems while MERRIAM (1963, following a
suggestion of R. C. Moore), coined the term magnacycle to refer to rock units which
represent major events in earth history. An example of a magnacycle given by Merriam
is the Pennsylvanian-Permian sequence in Kansas. A hierarchy of cycles was also
given by J ABLOKOV et al. (1961). First order cycles were grouped into second order or
mesocycles, the mesocycles combined into third order or macrocycles and the macro-
cycles joined in fourth order or megacycles. The recognition of these larger order
cycles appears to be so arbitrary that their practical value at this stage seems doubtful.
Nomenclature is confusing, as can be seen from the two systems cited above. In addi-
tionSAKAMo~o (1957) used lst, 2nd and 3rd order cycles in reverse order to J ablokov
et al., i.e., Sakamoto regarded the later Palaeozoic system as constituting a 1st
order cycle, divisions of the Middle Carboniferous as 2nd order cycles while 3rd
order cycles are individual cyclothems.
NOMENCLATURE OF CYCLES
Historically, interest in successions showing continual and repeated changes of lithol-
ogy (they were not at hst called cyclic successions) seems to have been first aroused
by coal-bearing sequences. Once it became accepted that coal represented the remains
4 INTRODUCTION
of plants and that the beds between the seams sometimes contained marine shells,
speculation began as to the meaning of such combinations. Theories on the genesis of
repetitive sedimentation in coal-bearing strata are dealt with in Chapters 4 and 5.
At this stage it is instructive to trace the way in which generalisations have been made
regarding cyclic sequences.
In the earliest descriptions (for example DE LA BECHE, 1834; MACLAREN,
1839; MILNE, 1839) it was considered sufficient to recognise an alternation ofcoal seams
with marine strata. Some workers went a little further. DAWSON (1854) for instance
emphasised the combination of lithologies, underclay-coal-bituminous limestone
while PHILLIPS (1836) introduced a wholly admirable system which, had it been adopt-
ed, might have clarified thought on the whole topic and led to a much more rapid
advance than has in fact occurred. He recognised that the Lower Carboniferous
rocks in the north of England (which he called the Yoredale Series) were made up of
repetitions of limestone, gritstone and shale and suggested that a particular combi-
nation of lithologies (say ABC or CAB) should be called a term. A number of such
terms should constitute a series. Where a succession consisted of only two terms
then it could be described as a dimeric series; the general case would be the poly-
meric series comprising many terms. If the successive terms are the same (ABC,
ABC, ABC, . . .) then the series would be homo-polymeric but if the terms are
dissimilar (ACB, ABC, BAC, . . .) then the series would be described as hetero-
polymeric. It is rather ironic that most British authors have quoted Phillips as being
the first to recognise the Yoredales as being built up of a series of similar Yoredale
cycles, when he in fact regarded the Yoredales as forming a hetero-polymeric series.
Phillips suggestions were not taken up and for more than a century generalisa-
tion regarding rhythmic successions has been based on subjective assessment. Many
authors, sometimes because they were dealing with a restricted succession or because
they were dealing generally and superficially with thick successions over relatively large
areas, have been content to note a simple repetitive unit. HIND (1902) for example
described the Yoredale succession as repetitions of the unit, limestone-shale-sand-
stone. HUDSON (1924) incorporated the same lithologies (shale-sandstondimestone)
but suggested a different starting point, because each limestone was thought to have an
eroded top surface (surfaces since shown to consist of algal nodules of original
shape, not eroded). In America, UDDEN (1912), dealing with a small sequence in the
Pennsylvanian rocks of the Peoria Quadrangle, Illinois, had pointed out a similar
rhythmic unit. Each cycle he wrote (UDDEN, 1912, p.470) may be said to present
four successive stages, namely: ( I ) accumulation of vegetation; (2) deposition of
calcareous material; (3) sand importation; and ( 4) aggradation to sea level and soil
making.
Since all successions tend to vary both laterally and vertically such simple
generalisation must be qualified to some extent when the area and the thickness of
succession under consideration are extended. Thus wehave PEACH (1888, p.17) Writing
on the Lower Carboniferous of Scotland about the repeated cycles of varying litho-
logies: When the succession is complete the following is the arrangement of strata in
NOMENCLATUREOFCYCLES 5
ascending order: (I) limestone charged with ordinary marine fossils; (2) shales, yield-
ing stunted marine forms; (3) sandstone; (4) fireclay with the roots of plants which is
overlain by a coal seam. In some cases one or more of these members may be absent,
but the others preserve the same relative order. This method, involving the subjective
selection of lithologies in a rhythmic unit and then noting possible variations, remain-
ed the standard procedure in studies of cyclic sedimentation for seven or eight decades
following Peachs writing. Consider, for example, TRUEMANS (1954) description of the
Coal Measures succession in Britain:
For many years it has been apparent to those who have examined coal-bearing
sediments that there is a characteristic pattern in the sequence of rock types, varied in
detail but consistent in essentials in rocks of all ages and of all countries. This repe-
tition of a common motifthroughout the coal-bearing rocks may be described as of a
cyclical or rhythmic nature. In the Coal Measures of Britain and in northwest Europe
generally the unit (1-5) of the rhythmic pattern is conveniently stated as:
(5) Coal.
(4) Rootlet bed.
(3) Sandstone.
(2) Non-marine shale or mudstone.
(I) Marine band.
While the unit or cycle (cyclothem of American writers) is repeated in this simple form
in some parts of the sequence, there are many minor variations. The thickness of the
different members may vary greatly or some of them may be absent. The coal seam
may be thick or thin, a mere streak in some places or absent in others, even if the root-
let bed is well developed. The marine band is generally thin when present, but in the
majority of the units it is absent altogether. When a marine band occurs it is usually at
no great distance above the coal seam although a thin non-marine layer may intervene
and indicate more gradual submergence of the swamp. The sandstone may vary greatly
in thickness as has been said, in different localities in the same unit. Occasionally a
sandstone may immediately succeed a coal seam. The unit may also be extended by
minor repetitions of sandy and muddy layers. But with every conceivable modifcation,
the most significant feature in the sequence of rocks making up the productive (i.e.,
coal-bearing) part of the Coal Measures is the regularity of the simple pattern.
(TRUEMAN, 1954, p.10; our italics.)
The variations are so carefully enumerated that the validity of the rhythmic
sequence becomes extremely doubtful. Nevertheless the description in principle is the
same as that of Peach. The pattern is the same elsewhere. In Germany, JESSEN (1961),
having erected an elaborate ideal 14-unit Toll-cyclothem (p.3 12) for European
coal-bearing rocks, qualified his remarks as follows (pp.316-3 17):
Wer alle diese Cyclothem-Glieder und ihre Position im Ablauf des zyklischen
Sedimentationsvorganges kennt, wird die naturgemassen Variationen verstehen, die-
gegeniiber dem idealen Voll-Cyc1othem-an Gliedern mehr oder weniger stark
oder sogar extrem an Gliedern verarmt sind. Eine Variationsreihe beruht auf
Verarmungen an (= Wegfall von) progressiv-hemizyklischen Gliedern (1 + 2, 1-3,
6 INTRODUCTION
1-4, 1-5, 1-6, 1-7). Aus einem zyklischen Glieder-Aufbau wird dann schliesslich ein
rhythmischer (Glieder 8-14), der aber gleichfalls ein echtes Cyclothem darstellt.
Hieran schliesst sich eine zweite Variationsreihe an, bei der auch das rezessive Hemi-
cyclothem an Gliedern verarmte (Glieder 15,14 + 13, 1412,141 1,1410). Das durch
Kombination beider Verarmungsreihen an Gliedern extrem verarmte Cyclothem
besteht dann allein aus Schieferton. Es entstand durch besonders starke Meeres-
Progression, die jegliche Sand-Zufuhr in die Saumsenke verhinderte.
Dem entgegengesetzt fuhrt eine Variationsreihe immer starkeren Ausfalls der
feinkornigeren Glieder (68, 5-9, 4-10, 3-1 1) zum Extremfall allein aus Sandstein
bestehender Cyclotheme. Diese entstanden in Fallen, in denen sich die Meeres-
Progressionen iiberhaupt nicht oder nur eben andeutungsweise auswirken konnten.
And in Belgium VAN LECKWIJ CK (1964, p.42), having described a five-fold
complete cycle in the Namurian, had to add the comment Les cinq phases ne sont
pas prksentes dans tous les cycles. . .
In America the study ot cyclic sedimentation was greatly stimulated during the
1930s by the work of WELLER (1930, 1931) and interest has continued undiminished.
But nomenclatorial confusion has grown almost as rapidly as the accumulation of
stratigraphic data. I n 1930, Weller described the typical cyclothem in Illinois in
terms of nine successive lithological units. This succession was modified a year later
and yet again in 1932 when the term cyclothem was introduced to refer specifically
to the sediments (see above). Then WANLESS and SHEPARD (1936) described the typical
cyclothem of Weller in a number of ways (normal, complete, standard, common)
yet referred to a slightly different set of lithologies. Later WELLER (1956) distinguished
between an idealised standard succession and real cyclothems, real, presumably in
the sense of naturally occurring units. I t seems likely that Wellers idealised standard
cyclothem compares in its connotation with the complete cycle of PEACH (1888).
There are therefore two categories of cycle which can be picked out, those referred to
as typical, normal, etc., which might be expectedto beofcommonoccurrence and
those, like the idealised standard which may be rarely developed but which express
some characteristic order of the lithological units. J ust as various terms have been used
to describe the same succession and the same term has been used to describe different
sequences in America, a similar confusion has arisen in British literature. The situation
is summarised in Table I. It will be noticed that not only is there a profusion of terms
but, what is more serious, there is also anumber, like complete, normal, typical
which appear on both sides of the table and which have been used to describe the two
categories of cycles distinguished above.
There are two reasons why this confusion has arisen. The first is the subjective
methods of assessing cyclic sedimentation and improved methods will be examined
below. The second is the failure to isolate certain elements in the subject. We would
separate these elements in this way.
I n any groups of rocks displaying cyclic sedimentation, it should be possible to
identify that particular grouping of lithologies which occurs most frequently through
the succession. This ordered sequence might naturally be correlated with what many
NOMENCLATURE OF CYCLES 7
TABLE I
AMBIGUITY OF CYCLOTHEM NOMENCLATURE
(After DUFF and WALTON, 1962)
Cycles which reader might expect to occur
frequently
~ ~~ ~
Theoretical or partly idealised cycles not
necessarily of frequent occurrence, if
present at all
Typical (WELLER, 1930)l
Typical (WELLER, 1931)l
Normal (WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936)2
Complete (WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936)2
Standard (WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936)2
Typical (WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936)
Usual (WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936)
Common (WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936)
Typical (ROBERTSON, 1948)
Fully developed (EDWARDS and STUBBLEFIELD, 1 947)3
Normally developed (EDWARDS, 1951)3
Standard (DUNHAM, 1950)4
Commonly developed rhythmic unit (DUNHAM, 1953)
Normal (R. A. EDEN et al., 1957)
Characteristic (GOODLET, 1959)
Full rhythmic sequence (ROBERTSON, 1948)
Normal (ROBERTSON, 1948)
Idealised standard (WELLER, 1956)
Theoretical (WELLER, 1957)
Full (R. A. EDEN et al., 1957)
Complete (GOODLET, 1959)
Theoretically expectable composite
succession (WELLS, 1960)5
Typical (BEERBOWER, 1961)6
1 The unit of the two typical cyclothems actually differ though they purport to describe the same
succession.
Used by Wanless and Shepard to describe WELLERS (1930) cyclothem although not used byWeller.
Used to describe same cycle.
Dunham cited standard cyclothem or rhythmic unit of WANLESS and WELLER(1932) although this
qualifying term was not used by those two authors.
5 Used to describe WELLERS (1930) cyclothem.
6 Referring to the theoretical of WELLER (1957).
workers have designated the typical, normal or characteristic cycle (Table I).
In order to emphasise that this cycle has been picked out because of its frequent
occurrence DUFF and WALTON (1962) proposed that it should be called the modal
cycle.
There are, however, also terms (Table I) which have a somewhat different mean-
ing, for example Wellers idealised standard, composite and fully developed
cycles. These carry no implication of frequent development. Authors using such terms
generally make it clear that seldom, if ever, do the units described as making up one of
these cycles occur together in an actual cycle. Nevertheless certain lithologies, although
of infrequent occurrence, may have a preferred position with regard to the other beds
of the modal cycle. For example a succession dominated by the rhythm ABCD may
occasionally include an additional lithology, X, which, when present, lies between C
and D. This is probably meaningful though there is no question that the sequence
ABCXD is a common rhythmic unit. ABCXD is constructed from statistical data;
8 INTRODUCTION
it combines all the lithologies in a succession in the order in which they tend to occur
and has been referred to as the composite sequence (DUFF and WALTON, 1962).
Both the modal cycle and the composite sequence are based on actual
rock successions. But another concept runs through writings on rhythmic sedimenta-
tion. This is implicit in the terms theoretical, idealised and even, one supposes,
in the theoretical expectable composite succession (WELLS, 1960). There is suggested
in these terms a theoretical cycle to which the observed sequences can be referred and
through which the observed sedimentary successions can be understood. This ideal
or model cycle is one which can be constructed from theoretical considerations and
from accumulated data from modern environments and experimental evidence. It
arises only in consideration of the observed groups of the modal cycle and the compo-
site sequence. BEERBOWER (1964) has rightly pointed out that if any basin model is
to be even approximately realistic it will generate a variety of cycles from which the
most common can be picked out. This most common sequence he has called the
ideal modal cyclothem. In our opinion the more correct title would be modal
ideal-cyclothem but we deprecate the use of modal in this context because it was
introduced specifically to refer to the results from statistical examination of actual
successions.
METHODOMGY
In a provocative paper ZELLER (1964) has pointed out that science, to an extent match-
ed by no other human endeavour, places a premium upon the ability of the individual
to make order out of what appears disordered1. While this statement in its entirety
may be debatable it is sufficiently valid to suggest that each subjective assessment on
the presence or absence of cyclic sedimentation is suspect and, as a corollary, that
every effort should be made to systematise descriptions of rhythmic successions on an
objective and, where possible, quantitative basis. So far attempts at the latter have
developed along two main lines: (a) statistical analysis to pick out the modal cycles,
composite sequences, etc., and (b) refined mathematical techniques to test for
periodicity in the data or to provide mathematical models for the geological data.
Techniques of the second type are virtually restricted to simple successions such as
varved clays though, as shown below, some attempt can be made to reduce more
complicated sequences to a single variable.
The picking out of the modal cycle represents an attempt to formalise the defini-
tion of the rhythmic unit in a system with several components. Cycle is defined as that
group of rock units which tend to occur in a certain order and which contains one
unit which is repeated frequently through the succession (DUFF and WALTON,
1 Zeller showed in the same paper that geology students were able to see correlations between actual
successions in which each lithology was denoted by a number and sequences of numbers taken from
the Kansas Telephone Directory!
METHODOLOGY 9
C y c l e Ty p es
Fig.1. Histogram showing frequency distribution of cycle types from artificial succession given in text.
1962, p.239). The unit referred to in the latter half of the definition would normally be
one to which a certain genetic significance could be attached, such as the coal seam or
underclay of the Coal Measures. I t is also obviously necessary to choose a unit which
is relatively common in the succession. The procedure can be seen by reference to the
succession indicated by the following letters: A, B, C and D which represent different
lithologies:
C, BC, ABC, ABC, BAC, DABC, ABC, DABC, BC, ABC, BABC,
BABAC, ABC, BC, ABAC, ABDC, BABABC, DABC, BC, ABC, ABAC,
ABC, ABABAC, ABC, ABC, ABC, BAC, DABC, BC, ABC, . . .
Taking lithology C as the marker horizon because of its geological significance
breaks up the sequence (as marked), into a number of units or cycles of which the
sequence ABC is the most common (Fig. 1). I t is therefore the modal cycle. In order to
determine the composite sequence the position of additional lithologies, such as D,
is examined with respect to the beds of the modal cycle. I n this example it is clear that
although D does not occur very often, when it does it tends to lie above C and below
A. The composite sequence is therefore DABC.
DUFF and WALTON (1962) analysed over 1,200 cycles from the Coal Measures
of the East Pennine Coalfield, England and found the distribution of cycle types
(Fig.2). The critical lithology for marking the cycles was chosen as the coal seam or,
when this was not present, the seat earth. The seat earths were classified according to
their grain-size so that where a mudstone seat earth lay on shale the two were classified
together as A. The other lithologies considered were B, siltstone, C, sandstone and M,
mixtures of sandstone with siltstone or shale. The modal cycles then appear as A (an
alternation of shale with seat earth and sometimes coal), ABA and AMA. The
dominant cycle is one made up of fine, then coarse, then fine sediment. Another way
of approaching the problem is to pick out the dominant cycle in terms of the number
of lithologies present (Fig.3). This turned out to be three and when those cycles with
three units are analysed the same pattern, fine-coarse-he sediment, is found as before
(Fig.3). The Coal Measures succession also contains marine shales as an important,
but numerically insignificant, lithology. When the position of these bands and the coal
is included in the sequence the composite sequence becomes:
METHODOLOGY 11
No. of units in cycle
A
3
2
1
loo 200 300
B
Fig.3. A. Numbers of lithological units in non-marine cycles. B. Relative position of rock types in
three-unit non-marine cycles. Ornament: lines-A (shale), fine dots-B (siltstone), coarse dots-C
(sandstone), lines and dots44 (mixture).
Coal.
Seat earth.
Shale, non-marine.
Siltstone and/or sandstone.
Shale, non-marine.
Shale, marine.
Having obtained the two sequences an ideal cycle can then be constructed from,
for example, what is known of successions in deltaic regions of the present day. The
comparison of the ideal and the modal can then be carried out and it is obviously
desirable to be able to test the goodness of fit of the one with the other. A method
proposed by PEARN (1964) may be applicable in this situation. His account does not
distinguish between modal and ideal and in fact the term ideal is used in both
senses. Transposed into the terms wehave used the type of question which is posed is:
does the ideal cycle proposed by R. C. MOORE (1936) for the Kansan rocks of Penn-
sylvanian age best describe the rhythmic sedimentation found in that succession? How
near does the ideal cycle coincide with the modal cycle and how far does the observed
sequence differ from a random distribution of the strata?
For the purpose of answering these and related questions WARN (1964) intro-
duced the Discordance Index G, a parameter calculated in the following way:
Fig.2. Histogram showing frequency distribution of cycle types in the Coal Measures, East Pennine
Coalfield, England. (After DUFF and WALTON, 1962.) A. Cycles with no marine fossils, divided into
( i ) those cycles containing no sandstone and (ii) those cycles with sandstone. B. Cycles containing
marine fossils, divided into (i ) and (ii) as in A. Lithological units of main cycle types shown in upward
sequence: A = shale or mudstone; B = siltstone; C = sandstone; M = mixture of siltstone or shale
and sandstone.
12 INTRODUCTION
Given a sequence such as: 24324532, and a proposed ideal sequence: 123454321-
23454321, the figures in italics are the lithologies common to both sequences and the
units missing between the start and finish of the actual sequence total seven. This is one
possible answer for G. But, as in the case of R. C. MOORES (1936) ideal cyclothem
(see p.88) which is symmetrical, the observed sequence may begin in a regressive hemi-
cycle (54321) rather than the transgressive one (12345) as taken above. The comparable
ideal sequence would then be:
543212345432123454321
and the missing units in this case would total nine. G is taken as the smaller number so
in this example it would be seven.
The next step was to assess the probability of any value of G arising from a
random distribution of lithologies in a sequence. The possible combinations of the
five lithologies depend on how many units are present in the postulated cycles. As the
cycles become larger then the amount of calculation involved becomes more and more
unmanagable. A limitation is therefore imposed on this method which restricts the
significance of any results obtained. PEARN (1964) chose to use sequences of seven
units. All possible arrangements of five lithologies (such as 1234543, 2134543, etc.)
in these seven units were considered (so long as no lithology was repeated consecutive-
ly). The values of G associated with each of these arrangements then gave the probabil-
ity of any value arising by chance. Using chi-squared tests Pearn was able to show that
observed values of G differed significantly from randomness.
I n order to determine the goodness of fit of the proposed ideal cycle of Moore
the values of discordance were calculated for a number of other possible arrangements.
I t was found that the Moore hemicycle (12345) was the best fit for the Kansan rock
column (a somewhat artificial sequence summarising the succession in that state and
erected by R. C. MOORE et al., 1951) but that when a sample of actual sequences from
different parts of the state was considered 78 different hemicycles gave discordance
values lower than the Moore hemicycle. Although Pearn referred to these possible
hemicycles as ideal the procedure corresponds to the search for a type of modal
cycle; the cycle which best summarises the observed sequence. Moores ideal cycle
based on a transgressive-regressive model of sedimentation apparently falls a long
way short of coincidence with a best-fit cycle; it would seem desirable therefore to
consider other models in order to see whether they would generate an ideal cycle
closer to that observed.
A possible alternative approach to the problem of finding the most suitable
model or ideal cycle arises from recent work on cross-association (SACKIN et al., 1965;
MERRIAM and SNEATH, in press). The method involves comparison of sequences and
noting whether elements (lithologies) at similar levels within the sequences are the
same or not. A measure of the agreement of one sequence with the other is thus ob-
tained. Development of the method is in a preliminary stage but its application to
sequences where only qualitative data are available should yield interesting results.
Another possible treatment of complicated successions where a number of lithol-
ogies are present is to transform the data into a quantitative form. This has been done,
METHODOLOGY 13
for example, by VISTELIUS (1961) who allocated numerical values to the different
lithologies (shale, sandstone, conglomerate, etc.) in proportion to their grain-size.
In this form the data are amenable to the methods of analysis to be described in the
next section.
Time series and harmonic analysis
In simple systems where one or two lithologies are involved, one variable measured
through the succession, such as the thickness of each varve or the CaCO3 content of
the sediments, gives directly a series referred to as a time series. This is a general term
referring to the variation of one parameter through time and it will be realised at the
outset that stratigraphical measurements refer to time at second hand as it were. The
measurements are correlatable with variation through time only so far as the record is
complete and the rate of sedimentation was relatively constant during the formation
of the succession.
Following JSENDALL (1947) we can first of all separate out the long-termvariation
as a trend. This is convenient because we said at the outset that long-range variations
would not be considered. Shorter-term oscillations may then be discerned in the time
series which if strictly periodic according to Kendall could be termed cyclical. In
addition, in natural sequences there is also an element causing random fluctuations.
Given a time series which apparently shows oscillations the first problem is to
show that these fluctuations are not random. This can be done by the up and down
test (KENDALL, 1947; NEDERLOF, 1959) in which the number of turning points in
the series is compared with the number which is likely to have arisen by chance.
The number of runs ( R) between turning points is compared with the number of
observations (n) in the statistic K which is defined as:
3R-2n +- 2.5
2/( (1 6n-29)/ 10 }
K = -
The probability of a particular value for K arising by chance in a random series can be
found from appropriate tables.
If the value of Kindicates a non-random distribution the nature of the variations
can then be investigated further. In a series where the value of the variable, x, is oscil-
latingaround a mean value, in so far as there is some regularity in the oscillation,
successive values of x are not independent of one another. That is to say the value of
x at different points in the series will show some correlation one with another. I t is
possible therefore to investigate the structure of the series by considering the correla-
tion between successive values of x . The correlation coefficient can be calculated as in
the case of two variables x and y , the procedure simply consisting of regarding values
of x at successive points as values of a second variable, y . A number of correlation
coefficients can be calculated according to whether x p (the value of x at position p
14
-0.8-
INTRODUCTION
-0.81
-1.0 1 -
0 2 4 6 a
0
Fig.4. A. Correlograms of Dartry Limestone thickness indexes (solid line) and fitted theoretical
correlograms of a Yule-Kendall process (dotted line) and a harmonic process (fine dots). For Dartry
Limestone the horizontal scaIe is in metres and the points calculated at intervals of 20 cm. (After
SCHWARZACHER, 1964.) B. Correlopam of Benbulbin Shale (solid line) with fitted Yule-Kendall
process (dotted line). Scale as in A. (After SCHWARZACHER, 1964.)
in the series) is compared with xp+l , or x p +2 , or x p +k . The regression of x p and xp+l
where the correlationcoefficient is found between ~ 1 x 2 ; X2X3; . . . Xn- l ; X n is referred
to as the serial coefficient of the first order. The second order coefficient would relate
x p and x p +2 . In the general case the coefficient of the order k is given by:
and the plot of rk against k is the correlogram (Fig.4). When the correlogram has been
METHODOLOGY 15
determined for a given geological succession it can then be compared with suitable
mathematical models. SCHWARZACHER (1964) in his study of a Carboniferous lime-
stone succession, considered four different cases:
Case I is a stochastic process of moving averages where x at any point is deter-
mined by the sum of a number of factors, u, some of which are common to successive
values of x. The correlogram in this case appears as a straight line between l(r0)
and zero ( r k) . The case is described in the expression:
where cP is a random variable.
Case 2 is that of the autoregressive series, which is defined by:
The first order of this series is given by:
x p = -UXp-1 + Ep
while the second order is:
x p = -axp-1-bxp-2 + e p
The autoregressive series is comparable to a pendulum being struck at random by a
stream of peas. Each one of the random impulses affects the oscillation and is integrat-
ed into the system. For the second order (the Yule-Kendall process) the correlogram
has the form of a harmonic beginning as r,, equal to 1 and damping down towards zero.
Case 3 is a special case of a harmonic process such as a pure sine wave. The
correlogram of a sine wave is a cosine wave.
Case 4 adds a stochastic, random variable to a harmonic process of type 3.
The result can be expressed in the form:
27z
x = Asin-p + e p
V
The correlogram, after decreasing from 1 (To) takes the form of a cosine wave whose
constant amplitude is determined by the variance of the random variable E.
The application of these techniques can be seen in SCHWARZACHERS (1964)
study of a Carboniferous section in Ireland. The numerical data consists of percentage
limestone or average thickness of limestone bands in 20 cm intervals. It was found
useful to have these two measurements because in different sections one or the other
was the more accurate or the more meaningful. Plotting the variables brought out a
short-term oscillation and a long-term trend. The latter was estimated and subtracted
16 INTRODUCTION
from the data to isolate the oscillation. Correlograms were then computed for the
oscillations seen in different parts of the succession-the Benbulbin Shale, and the
Dartry and Glencar Limestones. With respect to the correlogram of the Dartry Lime-
stone, it is apparent (Fig.4) that the Yule-Kendall autoregressive model gives a curve
which is excessively damped but that a harmonic process with a superimposed dis-
turbance gives a reasonable fit. A similar model could be applied to the correlogram
of the Glencar Limestone but the Benbulbin Shale gives a curve which, though
somewhat damped, corresponds to an autoregressive model. The geological signifi-
cance of these results is discussed in Chapter 6.
The structure of a cyclic sequence might best be analysed in terms of a periodic
function-that function given in terms of the Fourier Series which can be expressed
as (PRESTON and HENDERSON, 1964; PRESTON and HARBAUGH, 1965):
n =m
+ bn sin -
2nnz L 1
2nnz
L
Un COS -
n - 1
where: L = half of the basic or fundamental period: in practice this is usually not
known and can be taken as half the length over which the variable is sampled; z =
independent variable of length through the succession; a,, = constant; an = the maxi-
mum value (or amplitude) of the cosine term at the nth harmonic; bn = the maxi-
mum value (or amplitude) of the sine term at the nth harmonic.
The meaning of the parameters is illustrated from an artificial varve series in
Fig.5 and the summation of sine and cosine terms up to n-5 is given in an example
(Fig.6). Clearly as terms are added (with increase of n) the resultant curve becomes
more and more complex. The procedure is that of finding a best-fit curve for the
time series. The Fourier expression is perhaps the most powerful although any poly-
nomial could be fitted (for example Fox, 1964).
year
A
year
X
I
I
1..
thickness Y
0 C
Fig.5. Illustration of parameters used in harmonic analysis of time series C from an artificial vane
succession A and varve diagram B. Value of y indicated at arbitrary position of z.
METHODOLOGY 17
n- 1 7oc
n-2
a b -
C d
Figd. Synthetic single Fourier Series illustrating wave forms of individual terms and wave forms of
series generated by summation of individual terms: a = cosine, b = sine, c = sine + cosine, d =
cumulative sine + cosine; for appropriate values of n, the harmonic number, from n = 1 t o n = 5.
(Adapted from PRESTON and HARBAUGH, 1965.)
For time series of any length the coefficients a,. . . an and bn can be calculated
(see for example PRESTON and HARBAUGH, 1965, or for more extended treatment,
WYLIE, 1960). These coefficients can then be used to derive a set of figures, ct , ci, cg . . .
from:
This set constitutes the power spectrum of the series. The value of c; is an indication of
the contribution of the nth harmonic to the series and the plot of c: against the
harmonic number n gives an indication of the relative strengths of the different
periodicities.
Various refinements of analysis and presentation are available but for our pre-
sent purposes it is sufficient to note that the power or amplitude in one form or an-
other is plotted as ordinate against frequency or its reciprocal (time, if available as in
vane series, or thickness, as in most successions). The more important periodicities
can be easily read from the peaks which appear in these spectrum or amplitude dia-
grams.
This type of analysis has so far been applied to varve successions in an attempt
to pick out any strong periodicities. In practice pronounced peaks are noticeably
absent although there is often a general rise in amplitude pointing to a possible
18 INTRODUCTION
periodicity between 50 and 100 years in length (Fig.27, p.61). The average of glacial
varve analyses (Fig.27, p.61) shows a rise in power at about 5 years while the Lake
Superior varves show an increase involving frequencies between 6 and 14 years
(Fig.7).
Scale; phase and facies
Two further aspects remain to be mentioned at this stage. The first concerns the scale
on which investigations are carried out. KRUMBEIN (1964) has set up a hierarchical
scale involving a number of levels of investigation from the detailed study of a member
of a cyclothem up to a group of cycles. He also analysed formally the relationship
between the observed and inferred elements. Implicit in his analysis was the relationship
between the level of investigation and the inferences which can be drawn from the
study and we would like to emphasise this rather obvious but sometimes overlooked
point. Studies of tiny areas over trivial thicknesses of succession have often led to
conclusions regarding mechanisms of formation involving world-wide and even cos-
micevents. Our position is not to assert that these far-flung speculations are completely
unwarranted but to reiterate that there should be some approximate correlation be-
tween the scale of inference and the scale of observation.
Secondly we might follow LAPORTE and IMBRIE (1964) in recognising that cyclic
sedimentation can be studied both in phase and facies. Cyclic sedimentation refers to
the development of lithologies in a pattern through a succession. I t is appropriate
therefore that successions at individual localities should be tested for cyclicity. This is
to be primarily concerned with phase in sedimentation at different points in time at
individual localities. But a system of sedimentation is one which has extent in space as
well as time and cyclic sedimentation can therefore be regarded as the superimposition
of lithologies due to the lateral migration of facies belts. In order to be complete there-
fore any analysis of sedimentation should take account of both phase and facies-the
one implementing and illuminating the other (LAPORTE and IMBRIE, 1964). The essential
combination of cycle-facies studies has also been stressed by ZHEMCHUZHNIKOV
(1958; see Chapter 5) .
The erection of a modal cyclothem or a composite sequence is essentially a
phase study. In a large basin of sedimentation separate modal cycles might be picked
out for different sub-areas and the distribution of modal cycles would then reflect
facies variation over the basin. KRUMBEINS (1964) analysis involved a similar approach.
Other studies have laid emphasis on facies variation. WANLFSS et al. (1963) traced
individual members of three Pennsylvanian cyclothems over a very large area in the
mid-west of the U.S.A. (see Chapter 4). Interpretation of the environment of accumu-
lation of the different lithologies led to the construction of successive palaeogeograph-
ic maps. The changes in palaeogeography show very strikingly the gradual build-up
of the cyclic succession and the influence of localised tectonic elements. The aim of
most investigations like this is to build up a model of the basin and its sedimentary
METHODOLOGY 19
N = 106
? I 1 1 1 I I ' 1 I
px, M ZQ 10 8 6 5 4
1 (YEARS)
3 I-
I I 1 1 1 1 I
3.S 3 2.75 2s 225 e
4
TIYE4RSl
Fig.7. Amplitude spectrum of Pleistocene Lake Superior vanes (N = 105). Large peak noticeable at
low frequency (50-100 years) and broad rise between 6 and 14 years: f ( CPY) = frequency, cycles per
year. (After R. Y. ANDERSON and KOOPMANS, 1963.)
20 INTRODUCTION
fill. Certain individual lithologies can be studied separately towards the same end.
POTTER (1962) for example, used data from sandstones in the Illinois area to recon-
struct the physiography and filling of the Pennsylvanian basin of that region.
Facies investigation is obviously facilitated by rigorous time control. The marine
Lias of western Europe is an especially suitable field for the study of widespread facies
changes (HALLAM, 1961,1964b; see Chapter 6) because palaeontological zoning allows
the recognition of synchronous surfaces of erosion or distinctive lithological horizons
which mark the boundaries of so-called major cycles. Such research has also revealed
the masking of cyclic episodes in areas where lithologies are not suitable. The im-
portance of this approach, involving as it does inter- as well as intra-continental
correlation, is that it provides one of the few known criteria for distinguishing eustatic
changes of sea-level from local epeirogenic or sedimentary controls of cyclic sedimen-
tation.
CLASSIFICATION AND DESCRIPTION
Wehave adopted a scheme of classification which is based on rather broad environ-
ments of sedimentation. Within the major categories separated by environment, the
various types of cycle are treated either on a more detailed environmental basis or in
terms of the lithologies present in the succession. While this scheme has the advantage
of providing a ready link between description and genetic interpretations it has the
chronic drawback, common to most systems, of generating a number of border-line
cases, and what is perhaps more important, it divides seemingly coherent groups, such
as varves, into different categories. We use the scheme because it seems to have the
fewest disadvantages. The major divisions are:
fluvial
lacustrine
Continental
Transitional
epicontinental
geosynclinal
Marine
An attempt has been made to introduce some uniformity into the nomenclature
but in many instances it has been necessary to be guided by what authors have found
fit to call cycles. In view of our introductory remarks in this chapter the reader will
realise that most so-called cycles, typical, complete or otherwise, should not be accept-
ed uncritically.
Chapter 2
CYCLES I N FLUVIAL REGIMES
Deposits in fluvial regimes accumulate under different conditions which can be regard-
ed as variations between two extremes. On the one hand, sedimentation in piedmont
areas takes place in a number of overlapping alluvial fans. The fans are formed by
mudflows, by deposition from sheet floods and heavily overloaded streams. Channels
are continually choked with debris and the drainage deflected first one way and then
another over the fan. At the other extreme there is sedimentation in the flood plains of
large rivers which have well established channels. Deposition is not over-rapid and the
main changes are due to meandering of the channel which carries different sediment-
types across the plain. Under these conditions there tends to be a strong differentiation
in the nature of the sediment from the coarse-grained material largely confined to
within and near the channels to the much finer-grained sediment of the flood-basin
outside. Between the two end members, the meandering river and the alluvial fan,
braided rivers form an intermediate type in which there is rather less differentiation of
facies than in the case of streams with near-permanent channels. The overloaded river
forming the braided stream tends to break into many threads which cover much of the
flood plain and so distribute coarse material more uniformly over the area.
In so far as fluviatile deposits tend to be almost entirely clastic, and variability
rather than patterned organisation is predominant, the recognition of cyclic sedimen-
tation has been somewhat delayed. Nevertheless of recent years cycles in fluviatile
deposits have been delineated from a number of successions. Their characteristics and
associated problems have been described and discussed by J. R. L. ALLEN (1964a,
1965a,b) who also gave comprehensive bibliographies (see also HARMS and FAHNE-
STOCK, 1965).
CYCLES IN THE OLD RED SANDSTONE OF BRITAIN
Considering first Old Red Sandstone sediments, J. R. L. ALLEN (1964a) described a
number of examples from England and Wales which he referred to as cyclothems.
Each of these (Fig.8-13) shows the presence of three features which J. R. L. Allen
regarded as essential in the development of this type of cyclothem. In ascending order
these are: ( I ) at the base a sharp and scoured surface surmounted by(2) a conglomeratic
sandstone often with large clasts of the immediately underlying sediments and cul-
minating in (3) a fine-grained bed of siltstone with clays and interbedded fine sandstone.
Only two of the cycles (Fig.8, 9) are relatively simple although even these show some
22 CYCLES IN FLWIAL REGIMES
MAIN FACTS
...
Scoured surface
Red. coarse siltstone devoid of bedding
Sparse calcium carbonate concretions.
Invertebrate burrows in lower part.
Suncracks absent.
Variable thicknesr of red. ripple-drift
/
bedded, very fine sandstone. Grades up
into siltstane. Invertebrate burrows.
White to purple, fine to medium, well
sorted sandstones. Siltstone clasts concen.
troted at base and scattered throughout.
Trough cross-strotlfied, units 10-90 cm
thick. Contorted cross-strata near base
and middle.
/
Cut on siltstone. Maximum relief 15cn
Few directionol scour structures.
GENERAL LEGEND
Ripple-bedded fine to
medium sandstone
Ripple-bedded very
fine sandstone
introfarmational conglomerate
Flat-bedded fine to
medium sandstone
Flat-bedded very
fine sandstone
Cross-stratified coane to
very coarse sandstone
Cross-stratified fine to
medium sandstme
Trough crass-stratifled fine
n Massive medium sand&, ne
to medium sandstone .... .
INTERPRETATION
Vertical accretlon deposit from overbank
floods. Probably deposlted in backswamp
area, perhaps a nmre OT less permanent
lake.
Vertical accretion deposit from overbonk
floods. Possibly a levee deposit or a
paint- bar swale filling.
Channel deposit probably formed by
lateral accretion on a point-bar. Sand trans
ported as bed-load over river bed formed
into lunate %dunes'. Strong, variable currents.
Siltstone closts fwm lag concentrate where
channel was deepest.
Erosion at deepest part of wandering
river channel.
Rippled bedding plme
Siltstone
Carbonate concretions
m
El
R
Convolute lamination
Contorted cross-strata
~~
Invertebrate burrows
Ripple-bedded coarse sandstone Massive very fine sandstone
Fig.8. Generalised succession and interpretation of Downtonian cyclothem (cycle A) at Ludlow,
Shropshire. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a.)
CYCLES IN THE OLD RED SANDSTONE OF BRITAIN 23
MAIN FACTS
I
5
4
3
ul
1L
w
I
2
I
0
Red coarse siltstone dewid of
bedding, grading up from very fine
on erosional surface. No proofs of
exposure.
11 sandstone at base. Sandstone lenticle
Medium to fine green sandstme on
parallel to channel side conccidont on
scoured surface. Scattered siltstone
Medium to very fine green sond-
stonas with siltstone clask. planar
cross-stratified or fiat-bedded and with
primary current lineation.
INTERPRETATION
Vertical accretion deposit on flood-
plain topstratum from overbank floods.
Bockswanp deposit probably formed in
more or less permanent lakes.
Channel-fill deposit. Plug from
longitudiml currents after channel wos
cut.
Channel cut occross sand bar.
Channel deposit probably formed by
loteral accretion on point-bar. Strong
variable currents.,, Sand transported in
straight-crested dunes". Wave action on
beaches exposed at low river Stage.
Lag deposit farmed in deepest parts
of channel.
Erosion In deepest parts of
wandering river ctmnnel.
Fig.9. Generalised succession and interpretation of Breconian cyclothem (cycle B) at Brown Clee Hill,
Shropshire. For legend see Fig.8. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a.)
differences The first (Fig.8) has three members: member I begins with a coarse-grain-
ed deposit on top of a scoured surface and passes into a festoon-beddedsandstonewith
scattered large siltstone clasts; member 2 is a thin band of ripple-drift-bedded sand;
member 3 is a red, coarse, massive blocky siltstone with carbonate concretions and
some burrows. Suncracks and plant remains arelacking. Similarly in the second example
(Fig.9) there is no evidence of exposure and drying out, while the lower sandstone
member is complicated by the presence of a large channel scour.
Of the other examples taken as cyclothems each shows more or less deviation
from the simple cases. Cycle C (Fig.10) has a number of scoured surfaces in the lower
part of the succession and the lowermost sequence is made up of interbedded lenticular
sandstones and very fine-grained greenish siltstones which differ from all other lithol-
ogies. Above this sequence there are at least two coarse-grained sandstones overlying
a scoured surface and the upper part of the cyclothem is occupied by siltstone with
thin sandstones. The siltstones have suncracks, burrows and abundant calcite con-
cretions. Cycle D (Fig. 11) is remarkable for the episodes of channelling recorded in the
lower sandstone beds; cycle E (Fig.12) has a number of intraformational conglomerates
24 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
MAIN FACTS
Thick red, coarse siltstones with lentides
md persistent beds af very fine. ripde-
bedded sondstone. Invertebrate burrows d
severol horizons. No suncracks.
Abundant calcium corbonote concretions.
/
Thick red. coarse siiistones with
lenticles ond persistent beds of very fine
to medium sandstones. Suncrocks at
three horizons. Sandstones ripple-bedded
with sharp, rippled tops. Convolute
lamination and dump bails. Invertebrate
burrows.
Planar craas-stratified, fine to medium,
purple sondstone with contorted foresets
locally. Thin siltstone and very fine
ripple-bedded sandstone, both lenticular.
Scattered siltstone clasts. in:raform-
alional conglomerate ot base.
Cut on siltstone. Relief low. Smoil-
scale channels.
Rapid alternation of lenticular sond-
stones ond siltstones. Sandstones mostly
white, came, cross-stratified; sharp bases,
Wen erosional. and sharp rippled or
smooth tops. Siitstones pale green
and unbrdded.
Cut on sinstone. Relief low.
INTERPRETATION
Vertical accretion deposit from overbank
flocds. Mostly back- deposits with
cwse intercoiations representing toes of
ievees or crevasse-splays. Conaetirms
sugqest fiuctudi- groundwater table and
exposure.
Vertical accretion depusit from overbon
floods. AltWMte submergence and
exposure. Complex of levee, backswomp
and perhaps crevosse-splay deposits.
Active river channel ot o distance.
Channel deposit proboMy fwmed by
iaterol accretion on point-bor. Strong,
voriobie currents. Sand carried 09 bed-load
in straight-crested "dunes" moving mpidly
at times. Conglomerate represents lag
deposits formed in deepest ports of
chonne i .
Erosion in deepest parts of wanderinq
freshwater channel encroaching on tidal
river.
Tidal channel deposit. Variable currents
with segregation of dock and moving
water. Chonnel floor o complex of mud
banks and sand banks covered with
'tiunes".
Erosion at floor of tidal channel.
Fig.10. Generalised succession and interpretation of Dittonian cyclothem (cycle C) at Lydney,
Gloucestershire. For legend see Fig.8. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a.)
CYCLES IN THE OLD RED SANDSTONE OF BRITAIN 25
~~
MAIN FACTS INTERPRETATION
FUlr and coven channd. Red. fl at- Channrl-fill and latmral accretion
runwckod &l t St OM.
In form of chonnal. ReIU about 4.0h.
5 Some siltstone.
Fig.11. Generalised succession and interpretation of Dittonian cyclothem (cycle D) at Tugford,
Shropshire. For legend see Fig.8. (After J. R. L. LEN, 1964a.)
26 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
r
MAIN FACTS
Red coarse siltstones with invertebrate
burrows, ripple-bedded sandstone lentlcles,
and convolute laminations. No evidence
of exposure.
Red coarse siltstones alternating
with beds or biscuitd of ripple-bedded,
very fine sandstone. Invertebrate
No proofs of exposure
Red, flat- or ripple-bedded very
fine to fine sandstone with a channeled
scoured surfoce in lower Dart.
Scattered siltstone ciasts.
2
Intraformational conglomerotes on
scoured surfaces alternating with green
1 siltstones and very fine to fins sand-
stones, showing ripple-bedding, flat-
bedding or convolute lamination.
Concentrations of plant debris and
l i

. . . . . . .
. . . , . ,._., . ,. ,. . ,. ..,. I ostracoderms. some af latter articulated.
Scoured surface of low relief cut
INTERPRETATION
Vertical arcretion deposit from
overbank floods. Backswamp area. probably
a permanent lake.
Vertical accretion deposit from
overbank floods. Levee and backswamp
deposits with area possibly a lake
for long periods.
Probably mixed channel-fill ond
lateral accretion deposits. Deposition of
suspended and bed loads on channel
bars and sand flats. Deepening or
wandering of channel at times.
Mixed channel-fill and channel lag
deposits. Repeated migration and
partial oggradation of channel. Flotsam
of floodpialn plants and riverine
ostracoderms deposited in or near
active channel.
Erosion at floor of wandering river.
Fig. 12. GeneraIised succession and interpretation of Dittonian cyclothem (cycle E) at Abergavenny,
Monmouthshire. For legend see Fig.8. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a.)
in its lower portion and cycle F (Fig.13) has a notable series of potholes in one surface
within the lower half while the lowest sandstone member is exceptional in having flat-
bedded horizontal laminae rather than cross-stratification.
Some objections might be raised to the way in which these cycles have been
delimited. It is clear that no simple set of criteria has been used. For example in
cycle D (Fig. 11) the presence of siltstone (9) and the channelling above might have been
CYCLES IN THE OLD RED SANDSTONE OF BRITAIN
MAIN FACTS
Alternation of thin sandstones and
siltstones. Red sandy coarse siltstones
with invertebrate burrows and rare
carbonate concretions. Very fine to fine
poorly sorted sandstones. flot- or rlppls
bedded or mossive. Commonly rest on
suncracked or eroded surfaces. Tops
gradational or sharp with ripples.
Invertebrote burrows.
27
I
INTERPRETATION
Verticol accretion dDposlt from
overbonk floods. Backswamp deposit with
intercalated levee tongue. Fluctuating
groundwater table and periodic
exposure.
Verticol accretion deposit from
overbonk floods. Deposition of
suspended load vio bed-load on levees,
crevasse splays, and in bockswamps.
Repeated scour, aggradation. and
expasure of floodplain top-strotum.
Flow at times in direction awoy. from
eariler channel.
Probably mixed channel-fill and
lateral accretion deposit. Deposition of
bed-load i n channels, shallow and
probably shifting and braided, with some
wave action on exposed bonks and
bars. Local channel lag deposits.
Erosion at floor of wandering
river channel.
Fig. 13. Generalised succession and interpretation of Breconian cyclothem (cycle F) at Mitcheldean,
Gloucestershire. For legend see Fig.8. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a.)
taken to indicate a separate cycle. In this connection J. R. L. ALLEN (1965a) said:
although two siltstones are present, the sequence is considered to represent a single
cycle of deposition, because of the essentially uniform palaeocurrents observed and
the manner in which an existing facies controlled the deposition of a later one.
In speaking of a single phase of deposition J . R. L. Allen seems to indicate that the
cycles have been demarcated in terms of a model based on studies of Recent sediments.
28 CYCLES IN nUVI AL REGIMES
POINT-BAR CREVASSE- SPLAY CHANNEL-FILL
- - - - - - - - -
Fig.14. Block diagram illustrating the development of flood-plain deposits in relation to a meandering
channel. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a.)
Within these deposits a depositional unit can result from channel migration which
has the essential features mentioned above, the scour surface, the coarse followed by
the fine fill. This fining-upwards unit J . R. L. ALLEN (1965a) took to be typical of
alluvial deposits. But each episode of channel migration is likely to be more or less
complicated and variable.
Recent-sediment studies suggest that in any one phase a number of different
types of deposits may form (see J. R. L. ALLEN, 1965b, for comprehensive survey).
These are-together with their location of development (see Fig.14): (a) vertical accre-
tion deposits (levee and back swamp); (b) splay deposits (crevasse from channels);
(c) lateral accretion deposits (point bar and channel bar); ( d) lag deposits (channel);
(e) fill deposits (channel).
Vertical accretion deposits form away from the channel and consist mostly of
rather he-grained material which is spread over the flood plain. The sediments de-
crease in grain-size away from the levees and predominantly silty or sandy interbeds
record increased water flow. Deposition occurs mainly from the suspended load to
give horizontal lamination, though the fine-grained sands may be moulded into ripples
with cross-lamination. Some of the sands have distinct lower surfaces but their upper
margins are gradational. Drying-out periods are common with the development of sun-
cracks, soil profiles and, under suitable conditions, calcite concretions. The sediments
are penetrated by plant rootlets and invertebrate burrows. Towards the levees sandy
layers become more frequent and in the levees themselves there is a rapid alternation
of sand, silt and clay with small-scale ripple cross-lamination very common.
CYCLES IN THE OLD RED SANDSTONE OF BRITAIN 29
Crevasse-splay deposits are not unlike those of the levees but may be coarser in
grain and almost entirely sandy and rippled. The sand layers have sharp bases. The
deposits form fan-like wedges which spread into the back-swamp areas from cuts in
the levees.
Lateralaccretion deposits accumulate within the channel as point bars in meanders,
or channel bars within the stream course. The deposits are formed from the bed-load
in variously sized and shaped cross-laminae. Some are very large laminae related to
large dune formation; other form the typical festoon-bedding produced by accumulat-
ing lunate dunes or by repeated scour and fill units. Ripple cross-lamination may be
ubiquitous. Active bank erosion produces a scattering of penecontemporaneous clasts
throughout the deposits. The size of the cross-laminated units frequently becomes
smaller as the channel shoals. Horizontal bedding with primary current lineation on
parting planes also occurs. The development of large and small cross-lamination or
flat-bedding is determined by the flow conditions (Table 11).
TABLE 11
SEDIMENTATfON STRUCTURES OF WELL WASHED SANDS AND SANDSTONES IN RELATION TO PLOW CONDITIONS
(After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964a)
Internal structure Bed surface roughness form Flow conditions
Small-scale Small-scale
cross-stratification ripples
Low intensity
lower-flow regime
Large-scale Large-scale High intensity
cross-stratification ripples or dunes lower-flow regime
(sets assembled in cosets)
Flat-bedding with primary Plane beds with sediment Upper-flow regime
current lineation movement
Channel-lag deposits form the coarsest-grained material of the alluvium. They
comprise detrital material from the source rocks and clasts derived from penecontempo-
raneous erosion of the river's own deposits. The large fragments are confined to the
bottom of the channel and move relatively slowly, lagging behind at normal or
low-water and being moved only at high-water stages.
Channel-$11 deposits are found in abandoned channels, the nature of the deposits
depending on the nature of the abandonment. If the cutting-off is complete and abrupt
then the deposits are mostly fine-grained, arriving from overbank floods and produced
by vertical accretion which results in predominantly flat lamination. If abandonment
is gradual then the fill may be rapid, coarse material predominates, scour and fill
episodes are frequent and cross bedding is very common.
The base of any channel is characterised by scour structures which are usually
somewhat indefinite in outline. Sometimes no preferred orientation of scours is pre-
30 CYCLES I N FLUVIAL REGIMES
sent, sometimes they have crudely fluted outlines, elongated parallel to the current.
The depth of the scours tends to be limited to only a few cm (DOEGLAS, 1962).
The model of sedimentation which J. R. L. ALLEN (1964a) proposed and ap-
peared to refer to as one episode of sedimentation is that cycle which begins by active
channelling followed by gradual deposition until filling is completed. Both the cutting
and the filling are associated with the gradual migration of channels across a flood
plain. As the migration proceeds at any one point coarse-grained channel lag deposits
will be left on a scoured surface. The lag deposits will be followed by the sandy, festoon-
bedded deposits of the channel and the point bars. Thesecoarsedeposits will begradual-
ly superseded, perhaps with interdigitations of levee and crevasse-splay deposits, by
the finer silts of the back swamps.
With this model in mind the cycles described above can now be interpreted. Cycle
A shows a scoured surface followed by a channel-lag and channel-fill deposits. The
ripple-drifted sand above (member 2) may have formed a levee and the siltstones
represent back-swamp conditions. But the absence of suncracks and plant remains
may mean that the area was almost permanently flooded. The same might be true of the
third member of cycle B whose sandstone member is complicated by the presence of a
large channel cut-and-fill. The lowermost sequence of cycle C is so distinctive in its
lenticular sands and very fine siltstones that J. R. L. ALLEN (1964a) suggested the
influence of tides on the lower reaches of a river. Tidal effects are such as to cause
rapid changes in current strength and hence of grain-size. The section above forms a
fining-upwards succession with the sandstone member showing well developed planar
cross-stratification similar to that formed under straight-crested as distinct from hat e
dunes. The back-swamp clays above with levee and crevasse-splay sands show numer-
ous phases of drying out, burrowing and calcite formation. Cycle D is remarkable for
the channelling phases recorded in the sandstones: cycle E has a number of intra-
formational conglomerates in the lower portion recording repeated bank erosion and
small episodes of channel cutting. In cycle F the parallel lamination of the lower sand-
stone is reminiscent of beach sands but J. R. L. ALLEN (1964a) contended that con-
ditions were probably very shallow and there may have been some beach-like
deposition caused by wave action on exposed bars.
Each of the individual cycles considered above forms part of a succession of
repeated fining-upwards units (Fig.15, 16). The examples given from Britain show
slight differences though the basic pattern seems to be identical. Several standard
cycles can be picked out from different parts of Britain (J. R. L. ALLEN, 1965a). Some
of the cycles have a distinctive vertebrate assemblage whereas others contain lingulids.
Others appear to differ in the number and nature of their sandstone bands but in the
absence of any clear indication as to how these standard cycles are erected it is
difficult to estimate the significance of any differences.
Similar cycles to those of the British Old Red Sandstone have been recorded
from other parts of the world and there seem to be no essential differences between
the cycles recorded in Fig.15 and 16 from the Old Red Sandstone of Spitsbergen, the
Catskill facies of the Devonian from the Appalachians, the Trias of the Deep River
CYCLES IN THE OLD RED SANDSTONE OF BRITAIN 31
A
B
C
D
E
F
["
......
......
...........
:.-. .......
..............
[ ........... ...... ....... ...... r:.
......
......
.............
....... .......
...... .......
.. ...-..... .. ..........
........
G
...... ........
,..... .. ........
...... "..
...... ::*.
........
.........
I3 . .:. -: : : , :
H
Ar gi l l uceow rock
Fig.15. Sequences showing "fining-upwards" cycles: A = Lower Old Red Sandstone, Pembrokeshire,
Wales; B = Lower Old Red Sandstone, Shropshire, England; C = Lower Devonian, Vestspitsbergen;
D = Triassic, North Carolina; E = Triassic, North Carolina; F = Mesozoic, Sweden; G = Jurassic,
Arizona; H = Molasse (Aquitanian), Switzerland. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1965a.)
Basin, North Carolina, the Kagerod Formation (Early Mesozoic) of southern Sweden,
the Salt Wash member of the J urassic Morrison Formation, Colorado Plateau and the
Molasse formations in the vicinity of the Alps (J . R. L. ALLEN, 1965a; see also VISHER,
1965; CONOLLY, 1965).
The Wood Bay Series (Devonian) of Spitsbergen has cycles essentially the same
32 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
Small scale
croci-slralHIcalian
Lar qe scale
aocr cl r ol (Hi Cot bn
Sillrlonr
m
Llmaclonr
m
Fl at-brddl ng
..r.wwg.
..-..I
, ?*; *% conpl omuate
.
Fig. 16. Standard and representative fining-upwards cycles: A = Standard cycle (thickness
2-15 m), Red Downton-Temeside Shale Groups (Lower Old Red Sandstone), Welsh Borders; B =
Standard cycle (thickness 5-10 m), Holdgate Sandstones Group [Lower Old Red Sandstone), Welsh
Borders; C = Cycle from Ditton Series (Lower Old Red Sandstone), near Tugford, Clee Hills (thick-
ness of cycle 9.3 m); D = Cycle from Brownstones (Lower Old Red Sandstone), near Mitcheldean,
Gloucestershire (thickness of cycle 8.1 rn); E = Standard cycle (thickness 1-11 m) (Upper Old Red
Sandstone), Gloucestershire; F = Standard cycle (thickness range uncertain but average probably
several metres) (Upper Old Red Sandstone), Clee Hills, Shropshire; G = Standard cycle (average
thickness 15 m) (Lower Devonian), Vestspitsbergen; H = Standard cycle (average thickness order of
5-20 m), Catskill facia, Appalachian Mountains region; J = Standard cycle (characteristic thickness
10-20 m), Salt Wash member, Morrison Formation, Colorado Plateau; K = Standard cycle (thickness
2-15 m), Molasse, Swiss Plain and Aquitaine Basin. (After J. R. L. ALLEN, 1965a.)
MOLASSE OF SWITZERLAND 33
as those of the British area, with erosion surfaces followed by coarse-grained sand-
stones passing up into siltstones. So regular is the development of this sequence that
FRIEND (1965) , curiously, suggested that it was not necessary to erect a modal cycle,
without apparently realising that the modal cycle is just the obvious, invariate sequence
which he described. His descriptions, however, add considerably to the knowledge of
scour structures developed at the base of the coarse member. As remarked above,
scour structures in stream channels are often irregular or crudely flute-like in shape.
Friend confirmed the frequent development of flute markings in the Wood Bay Series
but, in addition, recorded the occurrence of grooves, current crescents and a number
of welts. The welts are apparently scour markings sometimes groove-like and
regular, sometimes dendritic and in both cases elongated parallel to the current
directions. Friend also included in this group, structures of polygonal type probably
resulting from dessication cracks.
The Falla Formation in the Beardmore-Shackleton area of Antarctica lies be-
tween fossiliferous coal measures dated as Permian below and probable Triassic
rocks above. The succession is cyclic and according to MCGREGOR (1965) has a
sequence corresponding to a modal cyclothem consisting of
(5) Dark grey-green slightly calcareous siltstone and shale.
(4) Pale, green-grey fine-grained sandstone, passing down into:
(3) Current-bedded medium-grained, mostly buff to pink sandstone.
(2) Thin mud-flake breccia.
(I) Erosion surface with trace fossils, scour marks and shallow, dendritic
Individual cycles show considerable lateral variation and thicknesses which range
between 2 and 12 m.
MCGREGOR (1965) remarked on the similarity of these beds to those of the
Enghsh Old Red Sandstone described above but interpreted the deposits as over-
lapping and superimposed alluvial fans developed in a slowly subsiding inland basin.
channels.
MOLASSE OF SWITZERLAND
BERSIER (1958) conceived a fluvial environment of formation for the Molasse in the
Swiss Plain. He envisaged sedimentation in an on-delta region and drew comparison
with the Coal Measures cycles. It appears that he may have been wrong in this inter-
pretation and that the fining-upwards sequences are characteristic of a flood-plain
environment. DE RAAF et al. (1965) have shown that deltaic sequences have a much
more complicated cyclic unit even though coals and seat earths may be absent (Chap-
ter 5). Nevertheless Bersiers reconstruction is important because it extends J. R. L.
Allens analyses of the Old Red Sandstone cycles in Britain and underlines the difficul-
ties in delimiting cycles in fluviatile deposits.
The Molasse of Switzerland is a very varied succession including marine,
freshwater and fluviatile deposits which range in composition from conglomerates to
34 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
coals and limestones. This discussion is restricted to the deposits around Lausanne of
Aquitanian age (BERSIER, 1958) although CROUZEL (1957) described similar sediments
from the Aquitaine Basin. Bersier interpreted the succession in terms of a model which
in the complete development consists of
Lacustrine limestone with coal above.
Muddy limestone.
Clays or shales.
Siltstones.
Sandstone with conglomerate, grading upwards.
Scoured surface.
If, however, sedimentation is taking place under fluviatile conditions then strong
lateral variation would be expected (Fig.17). The immediate vicinity of the channel
would show the complete cycle beginning with an erosive surface at the base and the
succession would record the filling of this channel and the development of the back-
swamp deposits. But further away from the channel the contemporaneous cycle would
be reduced in thickness and would often be lacking any erosive surface with coarse-
grained beds. In BERSIERS (1958) terminology the cycle would be stunted. On the
other hand reduced cycles would be formed during the channelling phase and the
top of the previous cycle removed to leave a truncated unit. I t is also possible that
two stunted cycles occurring towards the top of a thick cycle with sandstone and con-
glomerate would appear simply to be the top of the major one. Such a complex is
referred to by Bersier as a composite cycle. The possibilities for complication and
confusion in such an environment are very clear and suggest that while individual
small sequences such as described above from the Old Red Sandstone are important
in indicating the type of sedimentation they are in all probability local occurrences of
no great lateral extent. This last consideration is important in discussing the origin
of the cycles.
The foregoing has emphasised one probable origin for the cycles, that of sedi-
ment or channel wandering. With this mechanism a thick varied succession could
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
...........
Fig.17. Lateral variation in molasse cycles: c = composite cycle formed from a number of individ-
ual cycles; n = normal cycle; t = truncated cycle; r = stunted cycle. (After BERSIER, 1958.)
MOLASSE OF SWITZERLAND 35
have been built up under conditions of almost uniform subsidence. On the other hand
DINELEY (1960; see also RICHEY, 1938) envisaged mainly tectonism acting independent-
ly or together with climatic changes to cause rejuvenation and changes in sedimenta-
tion. J. R. L. ALLEN (1965a) in addition to recognising these possibilities, pointed out
that sea-level changes, superimposed on a continuous general subsidence of the de-
positional area, may have caused alternate periods of erosion and deposition.
As J. R. L. Allen indicated it is perhaps premature to decide which one of these
explanations is correct. It is our opinion, however, that far-acting tectonic and cli-
matic changes may have had only a regional effect on sedimentation and perhaps
determined the character of the deposits. With regard to the cycles, sedimentary control
in the form of channel wandering has the attraction of simplicity and economy and we
regard this as the most likely cause of individual cycles. Sedimentation changes must
take place in any flood plain and, even if an alternative mechanism is preferred, these
changes must be allowed for. Once channel wandering is taken into account, wesuggest
it will be frequently found that the necessity for appeal to further mechanisms dis-
appears.
Flysch facies in molasse
Although many molasse sediments were evidently deposited under fluviatile conditions
and exhibit a cyclicity as described above it is important to note that a variety of
conditions are represented in sequences which have been grouped under the heading
molasse. Thus shallow marine conditions are evident in some successions and another
intriguing facies is often described as flysch in molasse. In this facies there is a typical
alternation of sandstones with shales or marls. The arenites have many of the features
typical of flysch; the sandstones are graded, have no strong cross-lamination, have well
developed sole markings and so on (see Chapter 9). KUENEN (1959) has described beds
such as this from Bavaria-the Deutenhausener Schichten. These apparently accumulat-
ed in brackish waters and it was tentatively suggested that small turbidity currents
formed periodically from a delta front which had built out and cut off the area of sedi-
mentation from true marine conditions. More recently PANIN (1965) reported flysch
facies from the molasse of the eastern Carpathians in which the sediments as well as
showing turbidite features included a series of trace fossils-footprints of both birds
and mammals. I n order to explain this paradoxical association of turbidite features
(generally taken to be deep-water in origin) and emergent features Panin invoked the
operation of courants turbides de surface (a name suggested by Kuenen) that
is to say flood currents charged with clastic debris which spread over an alluvial area
sometimes partly under water, sometimes dry exposed. Panin suggested that the
operation of these turbides courants de surface (similar currents had been envisaged
by CUMMINS, 1958, from field evidence and by DZULYNSKI and WALTON, 1963, from
experimental studies) could explain the objections that MANGIN (1 962a,b) had raised
to the formation of flysch in deep waters (see Chapter 9).
36 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
, 1 3 1 0
6110
4950
3600
I200
0
GRAHAMSTOWN LAKE FORMATION
Varved sl l trtonrs. mudstones
sondslones and cohglomaratas
ITALIA ROAD FORMATION
Chiefly graded ma88ive l l l hi c
orenites. ahales and carbonacrour
strata
BALICKERA CONGLOMERATE
Boulder conglomrrnle wllh
tome ocid ignlmbrltr
. Chl efl y ondrsitic. dacltlc.to8conllic
ond rhyollllc l aws and pyrocIas1Ic8
WALLARINGA FORMATION
Chlefly red conglomerallc l l l hl a
areniles wlth l hl n red and green
and tuffaceour ht r r br dt
Chlefly dark mudrlone8.gray i i l hi c
orenl l rs, conglomarales and thln
llmrslones I marl nr
Fig.18. Carboniferous succession near Balickera. New South Wales. Thickness in feet. (After RATTI-
GAN, 1967b.)
Currents such as those envisaged by Panin may have operated in the formation of
sediments of continental origin in New South Wales, Australia, which show a number
of different cycle types (RATTIGAN, 1967a,b). The succession consists of a grey-
wacke (Burindi) facies followed by a molasse-type, fluviatile facies represented by the
Wallaringa Formation (Fig.18). The Gilmore Volcanic Group is then followed by the
Kings Hill Group which is succeeded in turn by another volcanic sequence of Permian
age. The Kings Hill Group shows an overall grading from the Balickera Conglomerate
through the Italia Road Formation comprising sandstones, shales and some coals and
at the top, the Grahamstown Lake Formation, a set of varved, lacustrinesedimentswith
some conglomerates. The last formation was clearly affected by nearby glaciation and
tillites, dropstones and exotic boulders are fairly common among the varves.
The Italia Road Formation presents an interesting series of cycles (Fig.19). The
formation can be divided up lithologically into ten members and there is some varia-
tion in cycle type from member to member. The modal cycle of member MZ has three
MOLASSE OF SWITZERLAND 31
L
1150
1055
2
11
I- 4
z
U
4 0
n
r!
t
J
4
1
CYCLOTHEMS
L
CYCLOTHEMS
---
I 80
20
0
CYCLOTHEMS
-
CYCLOTHEMS
New cycle initiated
B Sandstone. fine. laminated and
riDDIe drift bedded
A Sandstone. massive. medium
grainad
Old cycle compieted
New cycle initiated
'7
Succession similar to that in
(b) but upper uniis are thin-
Old cycle completed
New cycle initiated
C Kaotinllic shales with block car-
bonaceous. piant bearing pyritic
shales and coal lenses. Plants
preserved in situ.
B Sandstone, fine. laminated and
ripple drift bedded.
A Liihic sandstone, medium to coarse.
graded, massive. Angular intra -
formational phenoclasts ond roun-
ded exotic phinociosts at base.
Old Cyclb complei~d
( 0 ) (b)
Fig.19. Cyclothem development in the Italia Road Formation, New South Wales. Thickness in feet.
(After RATTICAN, 1967a.)
units, graded massive sandstone (A), fine-grained, laminated and ripple-drifted sand-
stone (B), and (C) a sequence of thin beds of shale, seat earths, and carbonaceous beds
which sometimes form an inferior coal. The cyclothem figured in Fig. 19b is an actual
cyclothem and variations of course from this are found in M2. M3 has thinner B
units and generally thicker A and C units: M4 has very thin C units and B units tend
to be absent. M5 cyclothems resemble those of M3, M7-8 are like those of M2-4,
and MS cycles have no C units. Occasional ash bands occur sporadically in C units
throughout the succession.
38 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
At first sight the cycles resemble the fining-upwards units of the Old Red Sand-
stone described above but the sandstone units (A) have a number of distinctive features.
They are graded, homogeneous poorly sorted sandstones in which there is no sign of
lamination or cross-lamination. I n this they contrast with the fluviatile fining-upwards
cycles which can be seen for example in the underlying Wallaringa Formation. I t is
possible according to Rattigan that the A-type arenites might have formed as fluvial
sandsheets produced by flash floods sweeping over flood-plain swamps and the B and
C units formed during and after the waning of the flood. On the other hand if the
similarity with turbidite structures is meaningful the outwash may have formed a
courant turbide de surface as envisaged by PANIN (1965). RATTIGAN (1967a)
also proposed that the outwash may have formed a diving flash flood which entered
a shallow lake as a turbidity current. The B units would then have formed from slight
bottom traction currents in the shallow waters on top of the turbidite and the C units
similarly in very shallow-water conditions which occasionally formed swamps with
soil and peat formation.
FLUVIO-LACUSTRINE COAL-BEARING SEQUENCES OF GONDWANALAND
Evidence of continental drift and the existence of Gondwanaland, a large land-mass
in the Southern Hemisphere, has been claimed from the similarities in Upper Palae-
ozoic-Mesozoic rocks in India, Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia.
I n the general area sedimentation during this period of the earths history points to a
change from a glacial to a warm-temperate climate and finally to desert or tropical
conditions. Glacial deposits (Carboniferous-Permian) include tillites and varvites
while continental sequences, in particular of Permian age, often have a coal-bearing
facies. Cycles containing coal are treated in detail in Chapters 4 and 5 but those de-
scribed below are different; they seem to have been formed under fluvio-lacustrine
conditions and, for the most part, the coals are considered to be of drift rather than
in situ origin. Such cycles can be found in other systems, for example, in the Cre-
taceous rocks of Nigeria (DE SWARDT and CASEY, 1963).
In India the coal-bearing facies is best developed in the Damuda System of
Lower Gondwana (Lower Permian) age, where in 6,000 ft. of beds occurring in the
eastern coalfields of the Damuda Valley, some 50-60 cycles have been recorded
(KRISHNAN, 1956; RAO, 1964). Cyclicity is best developed in the Barakar Series where
the sequence sandstone-shale-coal is repeated many times. In the J haria Coalfield,
for example, 25 seams (30 according to MEHTA, 1964) were said to occur in 2,500 ft.
of beds.
The environment of deposition was considered to be of piedmont type
(J ACOB, 1952) or fluviatile (KRISHNAN, 1956; RAO, 1964) with peats having been form-
ed from drifted vegetation accumulated in marshy depressions. NIYOGI (1964) con-
sidered Barakar sedimentation in terms of intermontane depressions, with piedmont
alluvial sheets grading and interfingering into flood-plain and marsh deposits. Most
COAL-BEARING SEQUENCES OF GONDWANALAND 39
previous authors emphasised the presence of sandstone roofs to the coals but Niyogi
gave the representative cycle as coal, carbonaceous shale, kaolinitic siltstone, and
laminated micaceous shales with channel sandstones. There seems to be general agree-
ment that the coal facies indicates a warm humid climate and that the cyclicity of the
sedimentation is due to intermittent subsidence of the area of deposition (see Chapter
5 for discussion of this mechanism).
TABLE I11
DMSIONS OF PART OF KARROO SYSTEM IN SOUTH AFRICA AND SOUTHERN RHODESIA
(After BOND, 1952a)
South Africa Southern Rhodesia Ape
Stormberg Series
Beaufort Series
Ecca Series
Dwyka Series
Basalt Series Jurassic
Forest Sandstone Upper Trias/Rhaetic
Pebbly Arkose
Mudstone Group Upper Trias
Escarpment Grit
Madumabisa Shales Upper Permian
Upper Wankie Sandstone
Black Shale and Coal Group
Lower Wankie Sandstone
Lower Permian
Glacial Beds Upper Carboniferous
I n South Africa, more or less similar environmental conditions have been
envisaged for the Ecca Series of the Karroo System (Table 111) although the coals are
regarded as having originated in situ. Literature on any cyclic aspects of the sedi-
mentation, appears, however, to be lacking. The Gwembe Coal Formation (of Ecca
age) in Zambia accumulated as a lacustrine deposit following glacio-fluvial conditions
(TAVENER-SMITH, 1962). Coal seams (of drift origin) are supposed to have developed
either on top of sandstones (formed at the margin of the lake basin) or on emergent
mudbanks within the lake. The resultant muddy facies of the latter case gave rise to
seventeen cycles in 40 ft. of strata at Nsanje, coal, coaly mudstone and carbonaceous
mudstone constituting the rhythmic sequence. Despite a gradational change upwards
from the coals the cessation of peat-forming conditions was considered to be due to
sudden, spasmodic increases in the rate of subsidence. The extreme lateral variations
were ascribed to the fact that recurrent warping that caused the inception and ter-
mination of swamp conditions was local in effect. (TAVENER-SMITH, 1962, p.56). Our
doubts about this type of conclusion in the face of extreme lateral variations are
expressed in Chapter 5 (pp.149-152).
In the eastern Sebungwe area, Southern Rhodesia, about 100 ft. of tillites and
varved sediments occur below the Lower Wankie Sandstone (Table III). BOND (1952a,b)
claimed that a well developed sunspot cycle of 12 years could be detected in the varvites
40 CYCLES IN FLUVIAL REGIMES
(cf. p.61) but did not comment on any repetitive sedimentation in the Black Shale and
Coal Group above. He emphasised that throughout the accumulation of the Karroo
rocks, a major climatic cycle, from glacial to arid, occurred. The type of sedimentation
was regarded as being partly due to this climatic change but intermittent, relative
movements of the source areas and the basin of deposition were considered responsible
for major recurrent changes in the type of debris washed into the basin. Four cycles
were recognised (Table 111); the first comprised the Dwyka glacial deposits, the Lower
Wankie Sandstone and the Black Shale and Coal Group; the second, the coarse Upper
Wankie Sandstone (its base is marked by a non-sequence) and the Lower Madumabisa
Shales (which in places have a coaly facies, BOND, 1955). The third cycle-the pebbly
Escarpment Grit and the finer, sometimes marly and sandy beds of the Mudstone
Group-is followed by a fourth cycle-Pebbly Arkose and Forest Sandstone. Breaks
in sedimentation, separating each of these cycles, were detected at the edges of the
depositional basin. Each cycle is of the order of hundreds, sometimes even thousands,
of feet thick and is regarded as being due to periodic, relative sinking of the basins
with rejuvenation of the drainage systems which brought sediment into them.
Gondwana sequences in Antarctica are generally referred to in terms of the
so-called Beacon System (HARRINGTON, 1965), which can be divided as in Table IV.
In certain areas, and in particular parts of the succession, the cyclic nature of the
sedimentation has been recorded. As has been described already (p.33) MCGREGOR
(1965) wrote of it in the Falla Group. In the underlying Buckley Coal Measures, how-
ever, he evidently did not consider it important and A. D. ALLEN (1962) stated specifi-
cally of the Bastion Coal Measures, that the coals did not occur in rhythmic sequences.
GRINDLEY (1963), however, hinted at the presence of cycles and BARRETT (1965) de-
scribed in the Queen Maud Range a composite sequence from his unit C-some
800-900 ft. of coal-bearing sediments presumed to be of the same age as the Bastion
and Buckley Coal Measures. I t begins with the deposition, often on an eroded sur-
face, of well-rounded quartz pebbles and light grey, trough cross-bedded, coarse
TABLE IV
SUBDMSIONS OF UPPER BEACON SYSTEM
Central Southern Queen Maud
Victoria Land Victoria Land Range
Jurassic Jurassic
Triassic 9 Triassic Falla Formation
Upper Permian 0s Bastion Coal Buckley Coal
Penno-Carboniferous
? Upper Carboniferous ? Not deposited Pagoda Tillite
Sandstones
8 Plant Beds
b
Unit D?
Unit C
Unit B
Unit A
Measures
Mackellar Formation
z Measures
COAL-BEARING SEQUENCES OF GONDWANALAND 41
sandstone. The grain size decreases upwards and cross-bedding is replaced by micro-
cross-lamination. Fine sandstone grades up into light and dark laminated shale, then
to coaly shale and finally to coal. None of the cycles examined has all the features and
lithologies of the cycle described above: in some cycles deposition began with micro-
cross-laminated, fine sandstones, and in many the upper strata have been eroded away.
(BARRETT, 1965, p.352).
While there is therefore some doubt as to the importance of cyclicity in the
sedimentation of the coal-bearing facies of the Beacon rocks most authors seem to be
in broad agreement as far as the environment of deposition is concerned. In general,
from the Upper Carboniferous onwards, it appears that the temperature became less
severe, as glacial conditions gave way to a more temperate climate, though the presence
of coals may not imply warm-temperate or subtropical temperatures. Glacial varves
within the coal measures in the Queen Alexandra range indicated a relatively cool,
probably cold-temperate, periglacial climate during coal formation in that area
(GRINDLEY, 1963).
Most Upper Beacon sediments are taken as indicating deposition in fluviatile
and lacustrine environments. Coals in general are considered to have been formed,
mainly from transported vegetable material, in lake, lagoonal and marginal swamps.
BARRETT (1965) described the fine-grained sediments of units A and B (Table IV) as
having been deposited under lacustrine conditions. The coal measures (unit C) marked
a change to a fluviatile environment-probably a broad, low-lying aggradation plain.
Most of the carbonaceous material had accumulated in small ephemeral lakes and
backwaters, though marginal swamps occasionally existed for some time, resulting
ultimately in more coaly horizons.
Barretts interpretation of the coal-bearing cycles is of note as it may well be
applicable to the origin of other Gondwanaland coal-bearing sequences. The
vertical change in grain size and bedding features in cyclic units of the Cape Surprise
Coal Measures shows that current velocities progressively decreased during the de-
position of each cycle. The change from quiet waters to swift currents at the beginning
of each cycle seems to have been rapid, for even where no erosion is evident the change
from dark shale to sandstone occupies no more than a few inches of strata. Features
of the cycles are consistent with the initiation of each cycle by crevassing when the
nearby river overflowed its banks, inundating much of the surrounding country.
Scouring occurred where the current was strongest, but elsewhere deposition was
continuous. As deposition proceeded, current velocities were reduced until lakes and
marshes once more covered most of the area (BARRETT, 1965, pp.361-362). On the
other hand, the change in lithology is consistent with the fining-upwardsyy sequence
of J. R. L. ALLEN (1964a) as described in detail earlier in this chapter (p.23). I t is
interesting to speculate on the reason for the plant-bearing flood plains of Permian
times in Gondwanaland and the barren nature of similar plains in Old Red Sandstone
times in the Northern Hemisphere. Was it mainly due to climatic differences or
had plants not evolved sufficiently to adapt to the environment envisaged, or to a
combination of these factors?
42 CYCLES IN PLUVIAL REGIMES
In Australia, rocks of Gondwana age are conventionally referred to in terms of
Carboniferous, Permian, etc., ages. Upper Carboniferous sequences display tillites
and vanrites and some interesting new features of the succession in New South Wales
have recently been revealed (see p.36).
It is possible to divide the Permian rocks of New South Wales as in Table V
(BOOKER, 1960), though it should be emphasised there is considerable lateral variation
in thickness and lithology.
TABLE V
DIVISION OF THE PERMIAN ROCKS OF NEW SOUTH WALES
Group Maximum thickness
(ft.)
Newcastle Coal Measures 1
Tomago Coal Measures 4,000
Maitland Group 6,000
Greta Coal Measures 1
Dalwood Group 6,000
Sediments of the Dalwood and Maitland Groups (mainly sandstones and shales)
contain marine fossils in places and these groups are generally considered marine in
contrast to the non-marine Coal Measures. The Dalwood-Greta and the Maitland-
Tomago-Newcastle Groups have, in fact, been considered to represent two major
rhythms, tectonic in origin, of marine and fresh-water sedimentation in an embay-
ment of the Tasman geosyncline (BOOKER, 1960).
Cyclic sedimentation in the coal facies was first recognised in 1953 in the Tomago
Group of the Singleton-Muswellbrook Coalfield. Since then it has been commented
on in other Coal Measures Groups and in various coalfields (e.g., BOOKER et al.,
1953; BOOKER and MACKENZIE, 1953; VEEVERS, 1960; BOOKER, 1960). In all cases the
cycles appear to consist mainly of a fining-upwards sequence-conglomerate or
greywacke, sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and coal, though because of the fluviatile
nature of the coarser sedimentation lateral variations are very common. While BOOKER
(1960) drew no definite conclusions as to the origin of the cycles, the evidence of gla-
ciation during Permian times led him to suggest that meltwaters, during periods of
ice recession, might have governed sedimentation in lakes where vegetational debris
also accumulated.
In the marine groups BOOKER (1960, p.51) recognised cycles of conglomerate,
sandstone and shale, which passed into sandstone-shale-limestone cycles, with increas-
ed depth of water and distance from source areas. The evidence for these is, however,
confusing and contradictory (see, for example, BOOKER, 1960, p.22 and pp.32-36).
Two regressions of the sea were identified in the Maitland Group comparable with
WITWATERSRAND SYSTEM OF SOUTH AFRICA 43
those which took place before the deposition of the Greta and Tomago-Newcastle
Coal Measures.
Epeirogenic movements were invoked to account for the cyclicity in the Tomago
Coal Measures of the Howick area (VEEVERS, 1960). Three major cycles were recognis-
ed but the basis for their erection is not clear. The minor rhythms of major cycles 1
and 3, when complete, comprise greywacke-siltstone-shale-coal-shale. Major
cycle 2 has thinner and less regular minor cycles.
The Newcastle Coal Measures and their approximate equivalents, the Illawarra
Coal Measures of the southern Coalfield, have been analysed using the methods of
Duff and Walton (see pp.9-11 and 133-134). Cycles in the top part of the Illawarra
Measures include types comparable with the fining-upwards sequences mentioned earlier
(p.25). In addition, there are cycles, composed of fine, then coarse, then fine-grained
beds, which can perhaps be compared to those of the European Coal Measures
(Chapter 5). Dum (in preparation) therefore considered that both flood-plain anddeltaic
environments are represented in the successions and suggested that the cycles were
probably the result of normal sedimentary mechanisms complicated by the periodic
inflow of glacial meltwaters.
In the Newcastle Coal Measures, however, conditions are different, with
thick conglomerates and tuffs appearing as important features of the succession.
Volcanic and tectonic activity is known to be contemporaneous with sedimentation
in the area and the hinterland was undergoing glaciation. Such factors rendered it
difficult to assign any one mechanism as the most likely in the formation of the cycles.
WITWATERSRAND SYSTEM OF SOUTH AFRICA
The Precambrian Witwatersrand System of South Africa is well known primarily
for its gold-bearing conglomerates. Agreement has been reached neither on the origin
of the ores nor on the environment of deposition of the sediments forming the System.
As will be seen presently some authors regard the sediments as marine but others
maintain a continental origin and it is because of the latter that the subject is dealt
with at this stage.
Some 25,000 ft. thick, the System can be split into Upper and Lower divisions.
Lower Witwatersrand Beds (1 5,000 ft.) consist essentially of alternating quartzites
and shales. The Upper Witwatersrand Beds, on the other hand, apart from one impor-
tant shale horizon-the Kimberley Shale-comprise alternating quartzites and con-
glomerates. Within the matrix of some of the conglomerates gold, uraninite and other
ore minerals occur.
When the succession is considered as a whole (Fig.20) there is a general coarsen-
ing upwards and within this general change of grain-size major oscillations can be
picked out by the alternations of groups of beds. In the Lower division, shale-dominat-
ed groups alternate with quartzitic groups and in the Upper Beds the finer groups
(apart from the Kimberley Shale) are quartzites and these alternate with conglomerate-
44 CYCLES IN FL.UVIAL REGIMES
dominant groups. SHARPE (1949) referred to these large-scale oscillations as cycles
and used the term cyclothem for the smaller-scale alternations of quartzite-shale (Lower
Beds) and quartzite-conglomerate couplets (Upper Beds).
Alternate rising and sinking of a marine area was invoked as apossible mechan-
ism for the development of the cycles (SHARPE, 1949). Beginning at the shale horizons
(e.g., Jeppestown and Kimberley, Fig.20) a period of uplift was succeeded by sinking
and submergence under a transgressing sea. Sharpe saw the gold-bearing conglomerate
(banket) as the result of working along the strand-line of this transgressing sea leaving
resistant pebbles and paystreaks arranged parallel to successive shorelines (Table VI).
The minor oscillations ((cyclothems) recorded in alternating conglomeratic groups
and quartzites according to Sharpe are the result of sedimentation under oscillating
tectonism but without the long breaks in sedimentation represented below the main,
economic conglomerates. As well as shoaling of the basin, elevation and erosion of
the source area has been held responsible for the coarsening of the sediments arriving
in the basin. Each cycle can then be related to a cycle of erosion during which the
uplifted source is gradually reduced with concomitant reduction in grain size of the
sediments (R. Borchers, quoted in: VISSER, 1957).
WIEBOLS (1955) denied the necessity for repeated tectonic movements either of
oscillatory (up and down) character or of spasmodic subsidence. He saw the generation
of the cycles as the result of successive episodes of glaciation on a continuously sub-
siding basin. The basin was covered with a large inland sea which was periodically
covered by spreading ice. This ice was responsible for the development of conglomer-
ates as ground moraine. Some of this debris can be seen little modified in the coarse,
poorly sorted conglomerates below the main bankets known as Puddingstone,
Snowstorm Rock, Bastard Reef, etc. The ore-carrying beds differ in the concentration
of the ore minerals, their better sorting and greater wearing of the included pebbles.
These features Wiebols attributed to reworking of the till by a transgressing sea. The
transgression would be expected during the interglacial period when the ice melted and
retreated. The elongation of the paystreaks could have arisen by concentration of the
ores in subglacial streams during the development in eskers. Associated with the
conglomerates are some finely laminated rocks which Wiebols interpreted as varved
sediments, although A. A. Truter (quoted in: WIEBOLS, 1955) denied that these were
varves pointing out that the laminae were lenticular with sharp margins.
The sediments can also be interpreted as continental in origin, and the orienta-
tion of the paystreaks and of the long axes of pebbles has been regarded as the result
of accumulation on a braided alluvial plain (REINECKE, 1927). Channelling would of
course be an essential feature of this environment. Pebble and paystreak orientation
suggested sedimentation from the northwest, spreading out into the south and east
(REINECKE, 1927). The orientation of current bedding substantiated these directions
but the crests of transverse ripples were also found to lie in a northwest-southeast
direction (HARGRAVES, 1962). Hargraves therefore postulated tidal in addition to river
action, the tidal movement producing the ripples and moving in a direction southwest
towards northeast. G.W. Bains (quoted in: LIEBENBERG, 1955) thought that movement
TABLE VI
LITH0UX;IES AND INTERPRETATION OF MAJOR CYCLJ3.9 IN WITWATERSRAND SYSTEM ACCORDING TO SHARPE
(Adapted from SHARPE, 1949)
-
(G) Hangingwall quartzites and Coarse grained quartzites and grits having local
Leader Reefs developments of narrow pebble beds, containing
Leader Reefs having more than generally small pebble sizes. Reconcentrated material
localsignificance andhigh pay- from the shore line, carried over sands already
ability, These may have been deposited by currents and tides, may give rise to local
formed in areas where tempo- payability in these Hangingwall Reefs or Leaders.
rary reemergence of the de
P
1
2 position area has occurred.
( F) Economic deposits Conglomerate deposits containing a predominance of
well rounded quartz pebbles. Concentration of heavy
minerals and gold. Carbon usually in isolated granular
form, but sometimes in narrow seams along bedding
planes in which the carbon may have a columnar
structure normal to the bedding.
Unconformable plane of deposition
(E) Channel and lagoon deposits (2) Lagoon deposits
Meandering stream channel de (c) Argillaceous beds often hel y laminated of
posits intersecting Lagoon type colours varying from blue-black through grey to
beds, and occasionally Lagoon khaki. The mineral chloritoid is highly characteristic,
beds overlying earlier stream sometimes forming an interlacing network of crystals,
beds. this mineral may, however, be absent.
(b) Hybrid type rock consisting of scattered pebbles
and quartz grains in a dark grey to black or khaki
coloured argillaceous matrix. This rock type has been
variously termed Snowstom Reef, Bastard Reef,
Hybrid Reef, Puddingstone Reef, etc.
(a) Occasionally a basal pebble accumulation with
overlying quartzites.
(I) Channel deposits
Coarse textured sediments generally of quartzite,
grits, and extremely irregular lenticular conglomerate
deposits. Angular and rounded pebble types occur.
Local payable horizons in both quartzites: pyritic
quarzites and conglomerate groups. Carbon:
generally in granular form.
(0) Conglomerate be&
(C) Siliceous quartzites with
scattered angular cherty
Irregular beds of conglomerates containing both
angular chert and rounded quartz pebbles, local
payability sometimes OCCUTS.
These quartzites frequently have a greenish tinge and
are characterised by irregular angular chert pebble
accumulations.
Fine grained quartzites, argillaceous near the base,
forming a transition phase to the shale beds, but
becoming more siliceous with increasing distance
from the shales. Transition phases contain charac-
teristic micaceous laminae.
(A) Shale be& Laminated grey to dark grey shales with intercalated
beds of fine-grained argillaceous quartzites.
WITWATERSRAND SYSTEM OF SOUTH AFRICA 47
directions were probably rather complicated. He suggested that the paystreaks should
converge in a downstream direction (rather than diverging as REINECKE, 1927, had
supposed) in which case sediment movement during Main Reef cycle was from east to
west. Supporting evidence for this movement comes in the observed decrease in pebble
size and current bedding. During Kimberley times, however, the direction was reversed
and sediment was moved from west to east. I t was further pointed out that the tendency
for the ore minerals to be concentrated towards the base of the conglomerates was
typical of fluvial rather than beach sedimentation and according to Bains only one
(Dominion) reef has concentrations of ore in the position expected of beaches. Further-
more wave action tends to concentrate heavy minerals in thin narrow streaks parallel
to the beach but with very little branching. The parallelism is there in the ore deposits
but branching is a general feature.
REINECKE (1927) invoked earth movements for the increase in grain-size from
the Lower to the Upper Witwatersrand Beds and for the presence of unconformities
(as well as channelling) below the main productive horizons. The widespread distribu-
tion of the conglomeratic bands at different horizons he attributed to the sudden drain-
ing of lakes dammed by glaciers or landslides.
Thinning of, and overlap within, the succession suggested to ANTROBUS (1956)
that the original basin of sedimentation was not much larger than the present distri-
bution of the rocks. Taking the sediments as continental he therefore made comparison
between the Witwatersrand Basin and sedimentation in the Basin and Range province
of the U.S.A. Episodes of sedimentation were probably controlled by tectonic move-
ments of both source and basin. In particular, the auriferous deposits represent periods
of stillstand when coarse material was left as a thin, widespread layer over a pediment
surface developed on the outer margins of the Witwatersrand Basin. Presumably
renewed movement of both basin and range would cause renewed sedimentation
which might have taken the form of a series of coalescing alluvial fans.
Evidently a considerable amount of sedimentological data is required to decide
the probable environment of accumulation of the Witwatersrand Beds but there seems
to be general agreement (with the exception of those advocates of glacial controls)
regarding the presence of at least a disconformity at the base of the main cycles. It
may be therefore that these are examples of tectonically controlled sedimentary oscil-
lations. The smaller secondary cycles (cyclothems of SHARPE, 1949) may also be
tectonically controlled but glacial control cannot be entirely ruled out. They may,
on the other hand, have been produced by periodic flooding as REINECKE (1927)
suggested but it seems unnecessary to invoke special causes of flooding like dam-
breaking when changes in grain-size in alluvial fans are at the present time obviously
the result of spasmodic storms.
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Chapter 3
CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIME
INTRODUCTION
Probably the most obvious of all rhythmic accumulations are the glacial varved clays
of the Pleistocene, described notably from northern Europe and North America. The
similarity of some ancient sediments to glacial varves has been noted by a number of
authors (e.g., COLLINS, 1913; CALDENIUS, 1938; PETTIJ OHN, 1957) but, because there
has been little detailed work on these older rocks and because they illustrate no addi-
tional principles, attention here will be confined to the Pleistocene sediments.
A number of rhythmic accumulations of non-glacial lacustrine conditions will
also be considered. Both types of layering, glacial and non-glacial, appear to give
information regarding annual pulses of sedimentation. This is in contrast to all the
other cycles, discussed in this book, whose period in terms of years is not known or at
best only hinted at. Moreover the individual varves differ (especially in thickness)
from one another and there are suggestions of longer-term variations, whose period
can be measured in years. Other long-term variations are also suggested by larger
cycles made up of different clastic units.
Since climate appears to be one of the major factors controlling sedimentation
the variations appear to record periodic meteorological changes. A number of such
periods have been proposed (especially the tantalising 1 1-year sun-spot cycle) on
the simple basis of inspection and subjective matching up of the successions. Rigorous
methods of testing (Chapter 1) may in time allow more precise conclusions regarding
the postulated periodicities.
GLACIAL VARVED CLAYS
In their simplest rhythmic development successions of clays formed in glacial lakes
consist of numerous couplets of sediment. One part of the couplet is coarse sediment
(usually fine sand or silt) and the other portion fine-grained, of clay grade. Each couplet
makes up the rhythmic unit or varve. lndividual varves are usually several centimetres
in thickness but some reach a metre whereas others may be only a few millimetres.
The last, the micro-varves, are of doubtful significance since they may be formed in the
lake simply as laminae rather than as the deposit of one year. I t may be recalled that
the term varve was introduced by DE GEER (1912) to refer to a layer of sediment
formed during one year.
50 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
The couplets are repeated through tens, exceptionally hundreds, of metres of
succession; in horizontal extent they are variable. Some, for example in Sweden and
Finland, cover hundreds of square kilometres; others, particularly many of the Danish
examples, are quite restricted (HANSEN, 1940). Clearly the main factor in this spread
is the size of the host lake which varied from water bodies comparable in size to the
present-day Baltic Sea to the tiniest lakes (for example the Plateau-Hill Ice Lakes in
Denmark, HANSEN, 1940), only a few hundred metres long. Thinning of the varves
away from the source is general and can be seen when tracing individual varves or
sequences laterally (Fig.2 1). Similarly thinning of varves occurs in vertical succession
since successive varves are formed as the ice sheet retreats. Usually the change is slow
but the rate of decrease in thickness may be accelerated by different current-strengths,
distribution patterns and salinities. Some of the Finnish varves have an extent of 100
km or more but others may be restricted to 25-50 km, the difference in the latter
being ascribed to flocculation and rapid sedimentation in relatively saline waters
(SAURAMO, 1923). Flocculation in marine conditions may inhibit the development of
varves entirely so that it appears that waters with well developed varves were fresh. In
this connection, the deposits are essentially unfossiliferous although there are a
restricted number of reports of invertebrates, especially bivalves and also, rarely,
fish (HORNER, 1948).
Thickness
of
Vorves
(4
Di stance from i ce-margi n (miles)
Fig.21. Curve showing decrease in thickness of varve-sequence away from the ice margin in Lake
Barlow, east Canada. (After ANTEVS, 1925.)
The varve usually considered in geochronological studies and made famous
through de Geers classic studies (DE GEER, 1940, has a full bibliography) is usually
of the type just described, that is with a coarse layer below a fine-grained clay
layer (Fig.22a). I t will be convenient to refer to the lower layer as S (usually sand or
silt) and the upper layer as C (clay). Within this simple type there are a number of
possible variations--and all of these occur naturally (Fig.22). One variety shows a
sharp base against the underlying clay layer, a near-perfect gradation in size from the
GLACIAL VARVED CLAYS 51
r r l m ....... .: <...:....... . <; :
. . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
.......... . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . .
. .
. . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
......
...- -
. . . . . . . . . . . .
A 0 C D
E F G
Fig.22. The structure of different types of varves: A-E = diatectic varves; A = graded; B = graded,
sharp junction with clay layer; C = very little gradation, sharp junction; D = thin coarse lamina in
middle of summer layer; E = thin transition zone at base of graded layer; F = symmictic varves;
C = composite varves.
light-coloured S-layer to the C-layer above. A second variety has an upward gradation
but quite a sharp junction between the S- and C-layers of the varve. A third type shows
little or no gradation within the S-layer and a sharp contact with the C-layer. Or, the
S-layer may have a sharp lower contact but a thin, coarser lamina may appear in the
middle, or even the upper part, of S (HORNER, 1948). There may be a thin transition
zone at the bottom of the S-layer and yet another variety has little or no separation
of the constituents according to grain-size apart from a very thin coarser layer right
at the base. The last varves are generally thicker than the previous types.
All of these varieties can be included in the simple type of ANTEVS (1951). The
type-I3 varves of HANSEN (1940) are generally to be referred to this simple type. Where
there is some separation of the grain-sizes and an overall gradation then the varves
are diatectic; where virtually no separation can be seen then the varves are symmictic
(SAURAMO, 1923).
According to ANTEVS (1951) simple varves may also contain distinct laminae of
silt or sand in the S-layer and of clay within the C-layer. The laminations can be of
differing grain-size or of differing colour, the essential point being that although
laminations occur, clay laminae do not appear in the S-layer and vice versa. But not all
varves are of the simple type.
S-layers may contain subsidiary laminae of clay and what appear to be distinct
C-layers may have occasional thin laminae of silt or even, rarely, sand. Where these
features are found then ANTEVS ( 1 951) would refer to the varve as composite. I t might
be noted here that the laminations referred to are almost invariably parallel, cross-
bedding on the scale of ripple marking is very rare but occasional contorted zones are
52 CYCLES I N LACUSTRINE REGIMES
Fig.23. A. Simple diatectic varves. B. Microlaminations in Danish clays. (After HANSEN, 1940.)
GLACIAL VARVED CLAYS 53
found. Composite varves are usually thicker than the simple type and the clay laminae
within the S-layer produce thin couplets (micro-varves) which have a structure
essentially the same as the simple varves. HANSEN (1940) recognised that an extreme
development of these micro-varves in the Danish clays could lead to laminated but
unvarved sediments (Fig.23). The varves with some lamination in the C-layer Hansen
separated off as a zonary type but almost all of these could be included in the
composite varves. A further class, distinguished by exceptional thicknesses has been
called drainage varves by ANTEVS (1925). These units owe their thickness to the
heavy supply of material resulting from a change in drainage following, for example,
the failure of an earth or an ice dam. None of these classification systems is entirely
satisfactory but it will be sufficient to use the terms simple and composite in the sense
of Antevs.
Grain-size analyses confirm the gross characters just described. Graded S-layers
have been described by HORNER (1948) and W. J. EDEN (1955) although the latter
author was impressed by the general lack of such gradation in the Steep Rock Lake
Clays in Canada. The sorting is generally good and so far as the restricted data allow
any conclusion the skewness is negative. Chemically a distinctive feature of most
varves (some Danish varves are exceptional, HANSEN, 1940) is that the S-layers contain
higher proportions of CaC03 and MgC03 than the C-layers.
Periodicity
The well established view that the rhythmic couplets in glacial lake successions record
annual pulses of deposition is based on a number of lines of evidence:
( I ) Apart from the change in thickness from proximal to distal parts the varves
are extremely regular in thickness; there is no evidence of strongly variable current-
action. This suggests periodic supply of detritus to the basin rather than fluctuating
current action within the basin.
(2) The two layers, coarse and fine, suggest two different epochs; the one, shorter
in length when the sand or silt arrived, the second a longer time when the clay particles
slowly settled.
( 3) Bearing in mind the probable source, the supply and the distance of travel
of the detritus, diurnal changes appear to be too short to produce the varves, whereas
the year seems to be of the right order of time. This contention is supported by
evidence from Recent sediments. The deposits in Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies,
for example, possess laminations with thicknesses corresponding to annual amounts of
debris delivered to the lake from the feeding Victoria Glacier (J OHNSTON, 1922).
( 4) Perhaps the ultimate vindication of the view that the couplets are annual lies
in the agreement of De Geers varve chronology and the chronology of the Pleistocene
derived from I4C dating (HULT DE GEER, 1951) (Table VII). That there should be no
exact correspondence between the results from the two methods is not really surprising.
When varve counting is considered it will be appreciated at once that a number of
54
CYCLES I N LACUSTRINE REGIMES
TABLE VII
RADIO-CARBON AND VARVE DATING
(After HOLMES, 1965)
~~
Radio-carbon dates
(All 150-200)
Britain
w 1Ic 10,260
Younger Dryas Latest cirque
(cold) glaciers
Valders of
advance in upland
North America regions
~ ~~ 10,760 ~-
~~
Allernd
(warm)
Two Creeks
interval in
North America
11,960 _ _ _ ~
W IIb
Older Dryas Highland
(cold) readvance
Port Huron >12,800
and Mankato in
North America
Varve counts
f 10,093
I 1 10,213
{l0,SOO
10,880 ~ 10,880 ~ ~~
12,070 12,000 12,140
Scanian
moraine
13,300
~ _ _ ~ _
Finland
~
10,075
10,175
Norway
10,500
~~ ~~
inaccuracies are inherent in the procedure. First the method of correlation, involving
simply the comparison of thicknesses in runs of varves, is always suspect and second-
ly the presence of composite varves and non- or poorly varved zones renders inter-
pretation very difficult. HANSEN (1940) recognised this difficulty when he wrote:
To judge this latter group of cases requires very great personal intimacy with the
stratification of the particular clay sediments, and even when the observer is equipped
with that experience,. . . the possibility of distinguishing varves in these sediments
will always be governed by the variations of subjective judgement. ANTEVS (1951) was
more pointed: it is in several cases not possible to determine to which category a clay
lamina belongs. The composite varves in Denmark led to a controversy between
local geologists who insisted that only a short time span was represented and De Geer,
who tended to regard every clay lamina as a winter layer, so magnifying the total of
varves (HANSEN, 1940). This controversy with regard to the chronology is of only
marginal interest to our present topic but it underlines the complicated nature of some
successions and it is important to remember in the discussions below regarding longer-
term variations which are based on thickness variation from varve to varve. Any
uncertainty in the thickness of the annual layers is critical i n such studies.
GLACIAL VARVED CLAYS 55
Transportation and sedimentation
In so far as the coarse layers represent summer melting and the fine layers are formed
during winter freezing the main cause of varvity is climatic and seasonal. But it has
been shown above that there are number of varieties of varves and in attempting to
explain these it is necessary to consider other factors affecting the accumulation of the
sediments.
The importance of salinity has been long recognised (see HORNER, 1948, for
discussion and references). There is no doubt that clays are relatively quickly coagulat-
ed on entering the sea and there are abundant experimental data to confirm this. The
character of the symmict clays was recognised by SAURAMO (1923) as being due to the
effect of increased salinity. Marine incursions would certainly result in this type of
varve as distinct from the diatectic varves in which clay grains must have been deposit-
ed more nearly in accordance with their size. The rapid decrease in thickness of the
varves of Lake Algonquin may also be due to rapid depostion near the ice front. But
even in diatectic clays it is likely that there was some flocculation. HORNER (1948)
found a very large proportion of grains so small that to be deposited at all over the
winter requires that they were to some extent coagulated. The fact that the varves are
diatectic and that some separation has taken place suggcsts that the coagulated grains
had an upper size limit (Horner suggested sizes up to 1 p in diameter). W. J . EDEN
(1955) measured the thixotropy of some of the Steep Rock Lake Clays and found
that the results suggested some degree of aggregation in both the S- and the C-layers. I t
appears likely that flocculation occurred to some extent at most times even in diatectic
varves. This is also indicated by experimental results which show that flocculation can
occur when the salinity is 1/50th that of normal sea waters (FRASER, 1929). Whileit may
be true that continuous successions dominated by symmict varves are the result of
deposition in marine waters, ANTEVS (1951) was inclined to think that SAURAMO
(1923) had over-estimated this effect and that the water in which the symmict Fennoscan-
dian varves accumulated was probably never truly marine. Other factors (type of
electrolyte, grain-size, type and concentration of clay) apart from the marine nature
of the waters may have governed the development of isolated symmict varves in
predominantly diatectic successions.
Teinperature is another obvious factor affecting sedimentation in that it controls
the density and viscosity of the water. I n addition it should be noted that the increased
content of Ca and Mg carbonates in the coarse layers in all probability is due to higher
summer temperatures promoting precipitation. The density of the lake waters is
critical in attempting to decide on the dominant mode of transportation of the clastic
debris. Was it mainly moved in surface waters? as advocated by ANTEVS (1925, 1951)
or by underflows? as maintained by DE GEER (1912) and re-iterated by KUENEN (1951).
J udging from a number of present day lakes Antevs inclined to the view that the
temperature of the lake waters may have been uniform during the summer though
obviously in the winter an inverse stratification occurred with the water at 0C at the
surface and around 4C near the bottom. Some of the J utenheim lakes in Norway
56 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
TABLE viIr
TEMPERATURE CONDITIONS I N SOME NORWEGIAN LAKES
(After ANTEVS, 1951)
~~~
Locality Altitude Date Surface Temperature at
ternperat l i re >rated cleptli
~_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Flakevatn, 1,448 m (4,749 ft.) Aug. 24, 1933
J otunheimen,
Finsevatn, 1,214 m (3,983 ft.) Aug. 22, 1933
Aug. 28, 1933
J otunheimen
Gjende, 984 m (3,228 ft.) Aug. 20, 1934
Bessvatn, 1,374 m (4,508 ft.) Aug. 8, 1934
J otunheimen
J otunheimen
Sept. I , 1934
7"C (44.6"F) 5.7"C (42.3"F)
at 20-70 m
(66-230 ft.)
8 "C (46.4 "F)
at 20 m (66 ft.)
9 "C (48 O F )
10C (50F)
in topmost 5 m
(I 6.4 ft.)
7.5 'C (45.5"F) 4.4"C (40F)
at 90 m (295 ft.)
39.2"F) at
25-90 m (82-
295 ft.)
at 90 m (295
10C (50F) 5 " 4 T (41 O-
7.5"C (455F) 4.5"C (40F)
in topmost 20
m (66 ft.) ft.)
(Table VIII) seem to provide very close parallels to older lakes. Beginning with the
proposition that a large amount of debris was transported and that the meltwaters
arrived at the lake with temperatures about 0C Antevs argued that if there had been
a pronounced direct stratification in the lake waters during the summer the heavier
meltwaters should have sunk directly to the floor and stagnated. Most of the mud
would have sunk rapidly during the summer, leaving none for the winter layers. Since
there are winter layers, however, much of the transportation must have been along the
surface or at least in the upper "compartment" of the lake waters. Now consider the
meltwaters (at about 0 "C) entering nearly isothermal waters with a temperature about
4 "C (Fig.24). Being lighter the meltwaters will flow up to the surface of the lake and
spread out helped by anticyclonic winds blowing outwards from the middle of the
ice-sheet. The spread of many of the varves suggests that these surface currents must
t -
*- J --->
_ _
c--
Fig.24. Main circulation in a glacial lake according to ANTEVS (1925). Assumed direction and strength
of currents indicated by arrows.
GLACIAL VARVED CLAYS 57
have been very effective although inevitably there is a size sorting. The distal equivalents
of coarse sandy varves near the ice front are thin varves made up almost entirely of
clay. Under conditions of uniform temperature ANTEVS (1925) envisaged any surface
(wave) stirring action causing a circulation which could affect almost the whole body
of water. If the circulation reached the floor then some erosion would take place. No
erosion is evident in the varves but the effect of deep circulation may be seen, according
to ANTEVS (1951), in the summer laminae of clay which result from downsinking
currents carrying the fine particles to low levels from where they can sink to the floor
before winter time.
Further variations must be allowed for. First, in larger bodies of water the ther-
mal conditions would be expected to vary away from the ice front. At the margin the
effect of the ice, calving, etc., is to keep the temperatures low and an inverse stratifica-
tion may hold throughout the summer. Then at a varying distance, gradual heating
up may produce isothermal conditions which gradually give way distally to a direct
stratification. These changes with distance may cause a complicated pattern of flow in
any meltwaters which do not mix rapidly with the lake waters. I t is also possible (as
in the case of Lake Louise) that a direct stratification of the lake water occurs because
the lake is separated from the glacier by several miles. Although the meltwaters are
heated to some extent in the feeding stream before they reach the lake they are still
more dense than the surface waters and sink, probably to the level of the thermocline1,
or at least to a level appropriate to their density and spread along that level (ANTEVS,
1951).
The suggested model is then of a lake in which much of the transportation occurs
near the surface. Although there are many complications with regard to thermal con-
ditions, the meltwaters generally rise to the surface because of their smaller density.
Isothermal conditions are not uncommon and the large-scale circulation inherent in
these lakes may lead to the accumulation of summer clay layers in composite varves.
Variationinthicknessof varvesis relatedto the position of the ice as shown above
(Fig.21) but there are changes which appear to be related to depth. Thus the thickness
of many varves increases with depth. ANTEVS (1925) appears to regard this as being
due to the increased fall-out from a larger column of overlying water but it could
also be due to the effect of underflow. DE GEER (1912) proposed that underflows had
played a large part in the development of varves but received little support until
KUENEN (195 I), extending the ideas of turbidity currents as applied to graded bedding
in flysch and greywackes, re-iterated the likelihood of underflow and showed how
many of the characteristic features of varves could be explained in terms of turbidity
currents. Tnaddition to increased thickness with depth, some varves are thicker on the
proximal sides of rises of the floor, and in some instances deposition has clearly been
controlled by flow around hillocks on the floor (KUENEN, 1951, fig.1).
The level, or narrow zone, at which there is a rapid change in temperature from dense stagnant
water below to the upper, circulating water.
58 CYCLES I N LACUSTRI NE REGIMES
,--- Wi n d
-
I FRESH WATER I T - L L I
SALT WATER SALT WATER
BRACKISH WATER
Fig.25. Types of spreading of meltwater under different conditions of salinity. (After KUENEN, 1951 .)
The crucial point which ANTEVS (1951) made regarding the movement of melt-
waters once they reach the lake is that they are at about freezing point and being
lighter than the lake waters they will therefore rise. Sufficient attention does not seem
to have been paid to the effect of the suspended matter on the current as a whole.
Information regarding the density of the meltwater plus suspended sediment is almost
wholly lacking but KUENEN (1951) attempted to arrive at a probable estimate. Kuenen
emphasised that the figure for the increase in density (0.001 1) arrived at in his calcula-
tions is a conservative one; even so it suggests an effect ten times larger than the differ-
ence in density due to the difference in temperature and that so long as the waters in
the lake are fresh then the meltwaters will form an underflow. If the flows enter sea
water with a density of 1.028 then they would be expected to rise to the surface. With
brackish waters a balance in densities might result in restricted movement of the melt-
waters until eventually the lighter fractions spread over the surface and the coarser
sink to the bottom perhaps in the form of an underflow (Fig.25).
Even though in fresh-water lakes the majority of flows would be expected to
follow the floor this does not necessarily mean that no clay would be available for the
winter layers. Kuenen supposed that there would be a minimum of mixing between
GLACIAL VARVED CLAYS 59
the underflows and the overlying waters but the possibility cannot be entirely ruled
out and a small amount of clay may be taken up into the lake waters.
There is also another possibility. Delivery of detritus to the lake during summer
must fluctuate and some of the thinner flows may be sufficiently light toform inter-,
or even over-(surface) flows. The coarse material of these flows might contribute to the
summer layers and the fine clay would be left for the winter crop.
The formation of the summer layers is necessarily different from the graded
sandstones of flysch and greywackes because supply extends over several months.
But extensive flushing out of the drainage lines may occur in the early part of the
summer to give the coarse and sharp bottoms to the varves. ANTEVS (1 95 1) pointed out
that there is evidence that the heaviest supply of debris occurs later, in mid-summer.
Where this does happen then the result may be varves with a gradational base or with
a distinctly coarser band in the middle or towards the top of the summer layer as in
the Uppsala varves described by HORNER (1948; Fig.22d).
I n many cases the floor of the lake may slope towards rather than away from
the ice but KUENEN (1951) supposed that heavy sedimentation of the coarser material
i n the region of the points of supply (forming an esker or kame) would be sufficient
to reverse the slope and impel the underflows across the lake floor. Eventwlly the
turbidity current would pond up on the floor of the lake to give a graded layer.
If supply is slow and spasmodic, layers deposited from individual flows, each graded
and with a thin clay lamina at the top, would give a series of micro-varves in a
composite varve. But if the intervals between supplies were small then the flows might
arrange themselves in the basin according to the density of the suspensions leaving a
layered cloud of material from which grains would settle out according to size.
A. J . SMITK (1959) considered this arrangement probable in the stratified glacial clays
of Lake Windermere, England.
The lack of bottom erosion in varved sequences does not raise any serious
difficulty, nor does the extent of many varves. Experiments have shown that turbidity
currents have a facility for spreading large distances on horizontal floors and even the
ability to flow for certain distances up gentle slopes. Away from the immediate proxi-
mal regions turbulence damps down and only small erosional features are developed;
in distal parts the current can only smooth over the floor (KUENEN and MIGLIORINI,
1950; DZULYNSKI and WALTON, 1965). Moreover the fineness of many of the varves
and the low slopes involved imply that movement of the currents would always be
slow.
I t is neither desirable nor necessary to insist on one type of flow in glacial lakes.
The picture which emerges is of material delivered by meltwaters at varying rates and
forming at different times under-, inter- and over-flows according to the relative density
of the lake waters. Any of these conditions could explain the recorded increase of clay
in distal portions of varves. Graded bedding is possible from such types of flow, and
composite varves may record individual turbidity currents rather than wholesale
overturns of the water. Winter layers record the fine material brought into the lake
by inter- or over-flows and probably spread over the surface by wind action.
60 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
Long-term variations
Varve diagrams form a time series which might show regular periodic variations
measurable in years. A large number of authors have proposed regular periods varying
from the biennial repetitions, which impressed de Geer, to those involving cycles of
thousands of years. A summary of these suggestions is given in Fig.26. Apart from the
2-year cycle the most prominent periods appearing in these successions are those at
about 5 and I I years in length. But the lack of agreement from area to area raises a
suspicion about the validity of any other long-term periods and many reports are
based on averages of maxima-a method which may conceal a considerable amount of
variability. The lack of agreement also underlines Sauramos cautionary remarks on
the tendency to ascribe variations in thickness to meteorological causes. An equally
important and immediate factor controlling the thickness of the varves is the proximity
to the ice. Periodic variations in varve thickness longer than a year are due to ice
recession or advance. This may be due to climatic effects; but rates of advance and
retreat are also affected by the sub-ice topography. Assuming a relatively flat surface
to the glacier and a variable topography underneath, rapid retreat would be expected
over high ground where the ice is thin and vice versa.
20-
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 7 2 3
Fig.26. Histogram summarising reported periodicities in varve series. (Based on data in R. Y. AN-
DERSON, 1961, from glacial, Pleistocene and Recent, non-glacial and marine, Recent and pre-Pleisto-
cene varves.)
The special methods of harmonic analysis as described in Chapter 1 now provide
a much more powerful and objective means of detecting and assessing periodic Auctu-
ations in time series. Few successions have been subjected to this type of test but
those which have show no marked periodicity (Fig.27,7). The varves from Steep Rock
Lake and the Carboniferous of New South Wales show no more than a weak short
term (about 5 years) variation and a slightly stronger, long-term variation of the order
of a hundred years (R. Y. ANDERSON and KOOPMANS, 1963). An investigation which
NON-GLACIAL LAKES 61
STEEP ROCK LAKE U LN:5201
I t 1 1 1 1 1 , I I I I I I
I I 1 8 7 6 5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 Id.; 25i is Ibi 7 4 b 35 3 2.5 h
~db,bzszos 19 T( YEARS) 50 20 9 T( YEARS1
Fig.27. Power-spectra of Pleistocene (Steep Rock clays, Canada, ANTEVS, 1951) and Carboniferous
(varve S, Australia, CALDENIUS, 1938) varve series. (After R. Y. ANDERSON and KOOPMANS, 1963.)
included a varve sequence from Sweden led BRYSON and DUTTON (1961, p.599) to
remark: The spectrum of the one varve series examined looks more like the spectrum
of a series of random numbers than like the tree-ring spectra while J ACKSON (1965)
also found no significant periodicity in spectra of Precambrian varves from Canada.
These results are not disturbing because analysis of climatic data shows rather
weak periods (at 2, 5 and 11 years, LANDSBERG et al., 1959). If these direct meteorolog-
ical data afford only equivocal evidence of strong periodicities it would be surprising
indeed if the climatic changes as recorded (at second or third hand as it were) in the
glacial varves appeared distinctly cyclic.
NON-GLACIAL LAKES
Varved lake sediments which appear to have accumulated in areas unaffected by
glaciation have been described from a number of regions. The key work in this
subject is that of BRADLEY (1929, 1931) on the Green River sediments of Eocene age
i n the western United States. Other relevant successions are found on the Old Red
Sandstone of Scotland (CRAMPTON et al., 1914; RAYNER, 1963), the Triassic Lockatong
Formation of New J ersey and Pennsylvania (VAN HOUTEN, 1962) and the Todilto
Formation (J urassic) of New Mexico (R. Y. ANDERSON and KIRKLAND, 1960).
62 CYCLES I N LACUSTRINE REGIMES
Fig.28. Varves of Green River Formation; dark laminae largely of organic material. Specimen 3.75
cm thick. (After BRADLEY, 1929.)
These formations along with similar recent sediments adequately illustrate the features
of cyclic sediments in lacustrine conditions. Many of the problems are similar to those
of the glacial lakes, but there are some which are confined to this environment.
I n addition to the small rhythmic units which we shall interpret as varves there
are larger, more complicated sequences which for convenience can be referred to as
larger cycles.
Vurves
The smallest rhythmic unit is bipartite like the glacial varves but the couplets are made
up of an organic (carbonaceous)-rich layer and an organic-poor layer (Fig.28). The
latter often consists of carbonates though sometimes mineral material comprising
quartz, felspar and clay minerals assumes greater importance. The carbonates are
commonly calcite or dolomite, occasionally ferroan dolomite. I n the Achanarras
Limestone of the Middle Old Red Sandstone in Caithness (Scotland) the carbonate
(calcite or dolomite) occurs predominantly as small anhedral grains forming a mosaic.
Set in this mosaic are larger euhedral dolomite grains and on occasions even larger
grains of calcite may be set in patches of euhedral dolomite crystals (RAYNER, 1963).
Other minerals are often scattered irregularly through these carbonate-rich layers but
NON-GLACIAL L A W 63
in the Todilto Formation, R. Y. ANDERSON and KIRKLAND (1960) recognised distinct
mineral layers in addition to the carbonate and carbonaceous laminae. An individual
mineral-layer normally appears as an extremely thin, sparse scattering of sand grains
over a carbonaceous layer, though sometimes it can be very indistinct because the sand
grains have been pressed (?or have sunk) into the organic material.
The black, opaque, sapropelic laminae often appear to be structureless though
small fragments of vascular plants can sometimes be detected (R. Y. ANDERSON and
KIRKLAND, 1960, fig.2). In some of the thicker dark layers there is developed a very
thin micro-lamination. Pyrite is fairly ubiquitous and lenses of carbonate also occur.
The carbonate may be oolitic; a rare example of spherulitic structure has been de-
scribed from a varved Carboniferous sediment in Scotland (MUIR and WALTON, 1957).
The thickness of the individual varve is almost invariably a fraction of a milli-
metre. The lateral extent of each couplet is difficult to judge but the thickness of each
lamina seems to be fairly constant. Current bedding even on a small scale is noticeably
absent, as are erosional features. Some trace fossils occur in the form of annelid trails
along bedding planes, but these are not numerous and there is no disturbance of bed-
ding due to other burrowing organisms (benthonic life must have been at a minimum).
The contacts of the individual layers are usually sharp both top and bottom except in
those couplets where clastic debris instead of carbonate is predominant. In these
cases the couplets are very like glacial varves and have a gradational contact between
lower and upper layer. Gradational contacts are also found in the rich oil-shales of the
Green River region.
The proportion of organic content varies in the Green River Formation along
with other aspects of the composition and Bradley divided the sediments into four
types, rich ojl-shales, moderate-, low-grade oil-shales and limy fine-grained sand-
stones. Only the last, like the clastic bands of the Achanarras Limestone, show grading
similar to glacial varves. In all but the rich oil-shales mineral layers are thicker than
organic layers. In the rich oil-shales the thick organic layers may have micro-lami-
nations (BRADLEY, 1929, pl.14a). The thickness of the varves varies from one type to
another being greatest in the limy sandstones and smallest in the rich oil-shales
(Table IX).
TABLE IX
VARIATION IN THICKNESS OF VARVES
(After BRADLEY, 1929)
Mean Range Number
thickness (mm)
(mm)
Limy sandstones 1.160 0.600-9.800 32
Low-grade oil-shales 0.167 0.014-0.370 268
Moderate-grade oil-shales 0.065 0.030-0.114 18
Rich oil-shales 0.037 0.014-0.153 143
64 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
The weighted mean for the thickness of the varves in the succession is 0.18 mm.
Apart from the fauna and flora of the Green River Beds which is varied and
abundant, in most successions fossils are often restricted to certain horizons and the
faunas are poor in diversity. For example the Middle Old Red Sandstone rocks of
Caithness (Scotland) and the Lockatong Formation (New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
yield fish and certain invertebrates such as ostracods and eurypterids which are virtual-
ly restricted to dark platy mudstone horizons.
Periodicity
In the case of the glacial varves the annual freezing and thawing obviously provide a
strong periodicity of supply which would impose itself on the sedimentation but in
non-glacial areas there is the possibility of a lack of any strong seasonal changes and
hence the varving may not be annual. BRADLEY (1929) was concerned to meet this
problem and he considered a number of possible alternatives.
BiochemicaZ reactions are known from work on Recent sediments to result in the
precipitation of carbonates within organic ooze. While these may be sufficient to
account for some indistinct lenses of carbonate within some oil-shales such reactions
are probably inadequate to cause the thicker, continuous carbonate layers of the
couplets. Furthermore the graded sandy layers of other varves are completely un-
accounted for.
Spasmodic storms with no definite period may have controlled the lamination.
Their effect would have been primarily a stirring one, causing erosion of accumulated
sediment, though they may have had a secondary effect in bringing renewed supplies
of fresh water to the lakes. The main difficulty in envisaging storms as a control of
the units is the lack of any signs of erosion and it seems unlikely that each storm
would be capable of removing all traces of individual units instead of parts of couplets.
Changes in the rate of supply of water and debris from storms might be recorded by
a change in the nature of the sediment. But it turns out (see below) that the amount of
sediment forming each varve compares with the annual supply of sediment rather than
that derived during shorter periods.
Differential settling might also be invoked. I t is clear that the grains of carbonate
even though they may not be so large (they are thought to be primary precipitate, see
RAYNER, 1963) would settle more quickly because of their higher specific gravity.
Furthermore the organic material would often be flat in shape and perforated by
decay. The calcite grains (and any sand grains which were available in the upper
waters) would reach the floor and be separated from the more slowly falling organic
material. But once this process had been operating for some time, and assuming no
periodic supply, earlier delivered organic material would reach the floor at the same
time as relatively recently arrived mineral matter; the result would be no segregation
into couplets. Periodic supply is therefore necessary, and a seasonal control seems the
most plausible.
NON-GLACIAL LAKES 65
Compelling evidence is derived from recent sediments, in particular from
Lake Zurich and Lake Baldegg in Switzerland (NIPKOW, 1928). In an extended
study covering the sedimentation from 1893 to 1919 it was found that in depths
beyond 90 m the annual increment was a layer of calcareous sediment followed by a
dark, carbonaceous layer. The annual succession could be checked from thicker layers
formed after bank collapses whose dates of occurrence were known. The calcareous
layer was found to accumulate during the summer and the organic-rich layer during
the winter. Further evidence from recent sediments is cited by BRADLEY (1929) and
RAYNER (1963). Rayner compared the deposition of carbonates in the Old Red
Sandstone with that found in shallow Australian lakes by ALDERMAN and SKINNER
(1957) and ALDERMAN (1959) where both calcite and dolomite form a fine-grained
precipitate towards the end of summer following increased plant growth and a rise in
pH. Even if the varves of Lake Zurich were compacted to a tenth of their present
thickness (average 3 mm) they would still be much thicker than those of the Green
River Beds but the Sakski Lake varves in the Crimea (B. V. Perfiliev, cited by:
BRADLEY, 1929), at present 1.3 mm thick, after compaction would compare very
closely with Eocene Green River Beds.
A less direct but supporting consideration lies in the estimate which Bradley
made of the likely thickness of annual layers in the Green River Basin. Knowing the
approximate area and depth of the lake and making certain assumptions concerning
climate it was possible to show that the observed thicknesses are of the correct order
of size.
More precise estimates of the probable climate of the Eocene during the forma-
tion of the Green River Beds can be made from the flora and fauna of the sediments
and from hydrographic considerations involving size of lake in reference to total
available basin, probable rates of evaporation and inflow. The flora of the Green
River Beds compares somewhat closely with the present day flora of the South Atlantic
and the Gulf Coast States and this together with hydrographic estimates suggested
to Bradley that the region experienced a climate characterised by cool, moist winters
and relatively long, warm summers with a mean temperature around 65 O F (1 8 C) and
a rainfall of about 85 cm/year.
Under these conditions BRADLEY (1929) envisaged supply of detritus to the lake
forming a localised marginal facies. Some dispersion of fine-grained material did,
however, take place in the surface waters. This would settle slowly through the lake
waters to form a mineral layer in late winter and early spring, or if very fine it might
join the carbonates which began to precipitate in the early summer. Rise in temperature
controlled the solubility of COZ and this together with increased plant activity ab-
stracting COZ caused precipitation of the carbonate. Perhaps a little later planktonic
bloom resulted in a rain of small organic particles which accumulated as an organic-
rich layer in late summer and autumn. Successive species reaching their peak at differ-
ent times during the summer could have caused successive crops of organic material
and would thereby be responsible for micro-laminations in some of the organic
layers. Any thermal stratification (presumably a direct stratification in both winter and
66 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
summer) would further retard the fall of the planktonic material (because of increased
density in the lower waters). Overturns of water, due to changes in temperature strati-
fication as in temperate lakes of the present time, seem unlikely due to the general lack
of evidence of any erosional features. In present-day lakes where overturn occurs at
the change of seasons very often large particles of organic muds are carried up from
the floor to the surface. Below the directly stratified waters at least in the deeper parts
(the critical depth which Nipkow found was 90 m) the accumulation of the sapropelic
material was possible, because of stagnant conditions. In these foetid zones pyrite was
produced in abundance. Bacterial activity produces calcium and magnesium carbon-
ates (see BRADLEY, 1929, for references) and these processes could explain the lenses
of carbonate associated with the dark layers. The foetid conditions-a direct result
of the absence of currents and hence ripple structures-would also account for the
scarcity of active benthonic forms and for the preservation of the fine laminae.
U
2.
E.
i
Fig.29. Varve diagram from Green River Formation showing recurrent peaks in thickness of varves.
Numbers indicate the separation of peaks in years. (After BRADLEY, 1929.)
Sunspot cycles
Like earlier workers on glacial varves Bradley was impressed with the apparently
significant variation in varve thicknesses. I t might be expected that periods of sun-
spot minima giving abnormally warm years would produce thicker annual layers of
both organic and carbonate material and the Green River Beds show maxima at
periods varying from 7 to 18 years but averaging just less than 12 (Fig.29). Averaging
maxima in this way, however, can conceal not only a good deal of random variability
but also significant changes of a shorter period. Analysis of a number of varved series
suggest in fact that the 11-year period may not be so important as one about 12-14
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 >24
Fig.30. Histogram summarising prominent peaks in spectra from 10 varve series. (Adapted from
R. Y. ANDERSON, 1961.)
NON-GLACIAL LAKES 67
years; in addition a 22-year period appears to be significant (Fig.30). A longer-term
trend occasionally develops around 80 years. Solar sun-spot cycles may exercise
ultimate control of all of these periods. R. Y. ANDERSON (1961) pointed out that sun-
spot activity was at maxima in alternate periods of 11 years (this would account for
the 22-year peaks) but that superimposed on this was a longer cycle whose period lay
between about 70-100 years (R. Y. ANDERSON, 1961 ; R. Y. ANDERSON and KOOPMANS,
1963).
Larger cycles
Sedimentary cycles of greater thickness than the varves were also considered to be
present in the Green River Formation. The rhythm appears as an alternation of low-
grade oil-shale (or organic marlstone) and higher-grade oil-shale and the thickness of
the beds varies around 1 m (Table X). Analysis of the varves gives an average figure
for the rate of accumulation of each type of lithology and it is a simple matter to
estimate the length of time taken for each of these beds to accumulate. The average
time turns out to be 21,630 years (range 16,100-27,000). This average is remarkably
close to the figure of 21,000 which is the period of the well-known precession of the
equinoxes. The climatic changes involved during the cycle would consist of short hot
summers with long cool winters alternating with long warm summers and short mild
winters. The first combination of short summers and long winters would mean a thin
layer of carbonate but the hot spell could mean a flourishing of the plankton and a
relatively thick organic accumulation over the late summer and winter. This period
would therefore produce the oil-shales. Thicker carbonate layers would tend to form
during the long warm summers of the following part of the cycle. At this period,
therefore, marlstones would tend to predominate. The changes in climate would be
gradual; it is somewhat surprising therefore to find that the boundaries to the sediment
layers are quite sharp.
The range in cycle period estimated from the Green River Beds is not surprising
considering the method of calculation and the fact that the astronomical cycle itself
shows some variation. I t is a remarkable confirmation of the method that radiometric
measurements indicate the duration of the Eocene to be 20 m years; BRADLEYS
(1929) estimate was 23 ni years.
Repetitive sedimentation in the Lockatong Formation (Triassic of New Jersey
and Pennsylvania) has also been partly ascribed to precession cycles (VAN HOUTEN,
1962,1964,1965). Varved marlstone corresponding to the Green River lithology occurs
in the Triassic rocks but to a subordinate extent. The cycles are of two varieties. The
first, detrital, variety shows an upward passage from pyritic black shale at the base to
interbedded mudstone and marlstone and is terminated by massive calcareous silty
mudstone. The last unit shows indistinct often contorted laminae, the contortions
apparently controlled by mud-cracking, and contains some fine cross-bedded sand-
stone bands and lenses. The thickness of the cycles ranges between 6 and 7 m.
68 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
TABLE X
GROUPS OF BEDS IN FOUR SUCCESSIONS REPRESENTING INTERVALS OF TIME SUGGEsnVE OF THE PRECESSION
CYCLE^
(After BRADLEY, 1929)
14,000
12,400
10,800
14,400
10,800
12,000
9,400
17,600,
Kind of rock Thickness Mean rate of
of beak accumulationlft.
(ft.) (years)=
13,600
4.900
13,800
9,400
7,600
8,930
12,200
13,350
13,100
10,800
10,300,
9,600,
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone
Oil-shale
Marlstone

3.0
6.2
2.3
7.2
2.3
6.0
2.0
8.8
6.8
0.6
6.9
2.0
3.8
1.9
6.1
2.8
4.8
1.6
5.4
2.2
1.6
6.0
1.4
6.0
1.2
8.0
1.7
6.5
0.8
7.0
0.5
6.0
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,ooo
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,000
2,000
8,200
2,000
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,000
8,200
2,000
4,700
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,000
4,700
2,000
8,200
2,000
8,200
2,000
Interval
for each cycle
Interval
indicated indicated
by each bed
(years) (years)
26,500
25,200
22,800
27,000
18,500
23,200
16,530
25,350
22,700
21,Ooo
19,500
18,600
21,600
21,000
20,500
16,100
1 Average length of cycle, 21,630 years.
For marlstone and related rocks yielding less than 15 gallons of oil to the ton the mean rate of
accumulation is estimated at 2,000 years to the foot: for moderately good oil-shale yielding 15-35
gallons, 4,700 years; and for rich oil-shale yielding more than 35 gallons, 8,200 years.
NON-GLACIAL LAKES 69
The second, chemical variety is usually not so thick (range 3-5 m). The black
shale unit is not present and the lower part of the cycle consists of interbedded mud-
stone and marlstone. The upper part is a dark-grey very hard mudstone (argillite)
rich in analcime and dolomite. Sedimentary structures vary through the cycle, couplets
of varve-type form the lowest unit, alternations of thin bands of mudstone and dolo-
mite follow. Fossil fish, reptiles, estheriids, phyllocarids, ostracods and plants are
found in dark mudstone layers in the lowermost part of the cycle. Analcime mudstone
with disrupted fragments of marlstone follow in upward sequence to be succeeded by
more uniform-appearing mudstone, microscopically brecciated, and with white patches
of carbonate and analcime. Dark-grey mudstone at the top is extensively mud-
cracked. This feature is also found, however, in the mudstone-dolomite interbedded
units lower in the cycle. Brecciation appears to be due to two causes; firstly the
shrinking and hardening of the carbonated layers shortly after deposition and secondly,
in the microbrecciated mudstone, the effect is that of de-watering of a colloidal mud.
From the nature of the sediment it is to be expected that the rate of deposition of
the chemical cycles should be lower than that of the detrital cycles and that both should
be rather more rapid than the cycles in the Green River Formation ascribed to the
21,000 year period.
Chemical and detrital cycles are interbedded with one another through the
succession (VAN HOUTEN, 1962, fig.2,3). If both result from the precession cycle some
other factor must be responsible for the two different types. Van Houten saw the
difference as being due to drainage conditions. The chemical cycle according to
Van Houten arose when no through drainage occurred and the basin was subject to
periodic filling and drying out. At most times (as witnessed by mud-cracks low down
in the cycles) the lakes must have been very shallow, occasionally disappearing during
very dry periods. Increased aridity is evidenced by the restriction of fossils to the lower
part of the cycle and the increased precipitation of salts upwards. The detrital cycle
shows some mud-cracking but no strong concentration of salts and the detritus be-
comes somewhat coarser up the succession. Supply of detritus was continuous and
currents presumably increased in competency. This is in direct contrast to the chemical
cycles and Van Houten concluded that during these periods there was a through-going
drainage established; no excessive accumulation of salts was possible.
In preferring a climatic control for the development of the Lockatong cycles
Van Houten was influenced by the belief that climatic variations are more likely to be
regular in period than diastrophic changes.
This position cannot be maintained with any confidence when the precession
cycle itself can show considerable variations, when the sediments themselves are of
different thicknesses and when diastrophic movements might show an approximate
regularity. Intermittent subsidence has been invoked by Crampton et al. to explain
the detrital cycles (very similar to those of the Lockatong Formation) which are found
in the Caithness Flagstones of the northeast of Scotland. The Middle Old Red Sand-
stone sediments show a number of different types at different heights in the succession
(Table XI) and CRAMPTON et al. (1914) gave sections to illustrate the cycles.
70 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
Comparison has already been made between the varves of the Achanarras
Limestone and the Green River Beds. The Achanarras Band is only a small part of a
succession which in general is made up of clastic sediments and carbonate horizons.
The fauna is an abundant but rather restricted one of fish, eurypterids, ostracods,
estheriids and occasional plant fragments and the fossils are associated with carbonate
beds like the Achanarras Limestone. The limestone bands are subordinate in the
succession. When they appear they usually form the base of the cycle and pass upwards
into flagstone, dark or grey then greenish flagstones with sandstone and end with a
sun-cracked mudstone. What Crampton et al. referred to as the characteristic cycle
varies through the succession, for example a limestone unit can be expected in the
Helman Head Beds cycle but not in the cycle, (Fig.31), characteristic of the Field
Beds. The characteristic cycle seems to be comparable with a modal cycle though
not so rigorously defined. If, for the present discussion this equivalence is accepted
wecan take the different modal cycles as indicating the relative position of each lithol-
ogy and the composite sequence can be defined as:
Pale-coloured suncracked mudstone.
Sandstone grading upwards.
Slaty or calcareous flags.
Limestone (varved, dolomitic).
TABLE XI
STRATIGRAPHIC SUCCESSION OF THE MIDDLE OLD RED
SANDSTONE IN CAITHNESS
(After WATERSTON, 1965)
John oGroats Sandstone
Thurso Flagstone Group
Passage Bed Group
Wick Flagstone Group
Barren Group
Mey Beds
Thurso Flagstones
Ackergill Beds
Achanarras and Niandt Beds
Noss Beds
Castle Sinclair Beds
Field Beds
Papigoe Beds
Wick Beds
Red Beds
Helman Head Beds
Ellens Goe Conglomerate
Ulbster Sandstone
Mudstones
Sarclet Sandstone
Sarclet Conglomerate
Sandstone, 10 ft. . . . . .
Black slaty flap with sandy layers, 12 ft.
Blark rdiTc:ireons flap and limestoner;, 12 ft.
Mudatones with sun-cracks, 15 ft. . .
Sdstone, 20 ft. . . . . .
Black daty flags and sandy layers, 6 ft. .
Black calcareous flags and limestones, 6 ft.
Mudstones with sun-cracks, 10 ft. . .
Sandstone, 12 ft. . . . . .
Black slaty flags and sandy layers, 15 ft. .
Black slaty flags and limestones, 4 ft. .
Mudstones, 6 ft. . . . . .
Sandstonee, 14 ft; . . . . .
Black slaty flags with sandy layers, 12 ft.
Black slaty flap and limestones, 3 ft.
. . .
. . .
. .
. .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. - .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Black flags in Helman Head Quarry. .
A
. . .
Greenish-white mudatoncs with sun-cmcks, 10 ft. . .
Sandstone beds, thinner at top, alteruatiag with greenish-white
mudstones, 40 ft. . . . . . . . . '
Black, slaty, bituminous shales with fish remains, 16 ft. . .
,
Greenish-white mudstones with sun-cracks . . . .
B
Fig.3 1. Vertical sections of parts of (A) Helman Head Beds and (B) Field Beds to illustr:
succession. (After CRAMPTON et al., 1914.) (Crown copyright, reproduced by permission
troller of H.M. Stationery Office.)
ite the
of the
cyclic
; Con-
72 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
This composite sequence is comparable to certain Carboniferous cycles whose
origin has been referred to delta outgrowth (Chapter 4, 5). A similar explanation is
possible for the Caithness sediments and the modal cycles would then appear as
variants of the composite sequence depending on the position of accumulation with
respect to the point(s) of supply. The Noss Beds, in which the cyclic sequence is not
well developed and thin bands of limestone, rippled sandstone and green mudstone
occur in rapid alternation, represent an exceptional set of conditions, however, and
deserve separate investigation.
The recognition of the M.O.R.S. cycles as possibly deltaic in a broad sense
raises the further possibility that channel wandering might be responsible for the
rhythm. We have stressed the importance of sedimentary controls in other examples but
it may be that in these lacustrine sediments other factors are more important, for
example:
(I) Lake basins are generally smaller than marine areas of sedimentation and in
the case of supply from one end only of an elongate basin, channel wandering would
be restricted simply because of the space available.
(2) Lake levels (and therefore sedimentation) are much more sensitive to changes
in climate than the sea.
(3) Changes in lake level are much more likely, e.g., due to the effect of drainage
changes, as in the blocking of an old overflow or uncovering of a new one.
Such considerations could be taken to support Van Houtens contention that
climatic controls are pre-eminent in these cases.
P. ALLEN (1959) raised another possibility when he pointed out the synchroneity
of marine transgressions (in France) and cyclic sedimentation in the Weald Lake (in
the southeast of England) during the Lower Cretaceous. I t should be realised, how-
ever, at the outset that these Cretaceous cyclothems are much thicker (up to 100 m
in places) than those discussed so far and it may be preferred to follow P. Allen and
use the term megacyclothem.
Apart from thickness the Wealden cycles have a uniqueness (only one other
occurrence of this type is reported, from the Dakota Sandstone, Colorado; P. ALLEN,
1959) which distinguishes them from the superficially similar Carboniferous, deltaic
cyclothems. Without defining the term, P. Allen summarises the standard cycle from
the Weald as (Fig.32):
(gradual passage or sharp break with erosion)
( H) Thick dark ostracod clays
Pyritous; Viviparus; bands of Neomiodon with scattered fish scales. Thin sandstones
and siltstones. Seams of clay-ironstone nodules towards base.
(a Thin Neomiodon shell beds
Gastropods rare. Clay-ironstone locally.
NON-GLACIAL LAKES
13
North South
c Weald Weald -c
FACfS
WICK DARK CLAYS
Ostracods. Vivlparus, Neomiodon. fish,
clay-ironstone, etc.
N. mrdius shell beds with fish scales,
local clay-Ironstone, rare gastropods
DARK CLAYS
Partings with aerial debrls of E. lyelll
E. LYELLl SOIL BED
WIN BASAL PASSAGE BEDS
Physa
Thin cross-laminated lenticular silt-
stones and clays. Local bone beds
rHlN GRADED PEBBLE BED
Suncracked in lower part. Panlng of
plant debris at bue .
sandy.
pebbles, cross-
bedding and wuh-
OUI . Coarsening
upwards. Lou1
roots (not horse-
tails)
!
1HlCK PASSAGE SILTSTONES AND
SILTY CLAYS
Local soil beds.(includlnp E.lye1li). Unio.
Sphaeroriderite
THICK SILTY CLAYS
Sphmroslderite
4.
PRO-DEL1A.UKE-CLAYS
Mingling of reed and lake waters:
iron precipitation
Shell and fish debris washed up on
outer side of reeds
LAKE-CLAYS BEYOND REED BED
4 years life of reedswamp recorded
OFFSHORE REED BED
Virtually continuous
with other debris
DELTA-FRONT UKE-SILTS AND CUYS
foot of beach about here
REJ REATING STRAND-LINE
Headed by horsetail flotsam from
reed beds
Levee, With occasional
crevasse, back- distributary chan-
ntls. mouth-bar
sands. and eroded
onshore soils
DELTA-FRONT UKE-SILTS AND C&AVS
With scattered small patches of
reed
- North South --+
Weald Weald
Fig.32. The standard Hastings cyclothem of the Weald, England. The lithologies described on the
left are interpreted on the right in terms of the model given in Fig.34. (After P. ALLEN, 1959.)
( F) Thin dark clay
Partings of aerial horsetail debris near base.
(a 11. Equisetites ZyelZi soil bed (with Physa)
At top of alternating series of
perfect passage from ( D) to Q. Local bone beds.
I. Thin cross-laminated lenticular sandstones, siltstones and clays forming
74 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
(D) Thin graded pebble bed
Top ripples; interior rippled and/or current-bedded, with local suncracks. Oversteps
all sedimentary structures and changes of facies below. Exotic pebbles dominant.
Scattered debris of horsetails and other plants frequently forms parting at base.
(sharp break with erosion)
(C) Thick sandstone Argillaceous sandy silt-
stones
In northern outcrops:
Replace top sandstones.
Soil beds (including E.
lyelli).
In southern outcrops:
Coarsens upwards; scattered pebbles, suncracks and
roots (not horsetails) locally near top.
Local flat-bedded well-sorted silversands, large-scale
cross-bedding, washout structures, etc.
( B) Thick lenticular siltstones and silty clays
In south forming, by gradual coarsening, a perfect In north contain more
passage upwards into (C). Unio. Local soil beds (in- sandstone, fining up-
cluding E. lyelli). wards into ( C) .
( A) Thick silty clays
Thickest in south. Locally red or red-mottled. Grade
upwards into (B).
Northwards partially re-
placed upwards by siltier
and sandier beds.
The development of this succession can be seen in the first megacyclothem
which comprises the Fairlight Clays, Ashdown Sandstone and Pebble Bed, Passage
Beds and Soil Bed and Wadhurst Clay. Particular attention should be paid to the
nature of the Pebble Bed, and the Passage Beds below the Soil Bed. The Ashdown
Pebble Bed is usually only a few inches thick; pebbles are usually small, siliceous in
composition and can be related (as can the matrix) to the underlying beds: there is an
upward gradation in clast size. In places strong concentrations of plant fragments have
produced peaty rafts and lenticles. The upper surface of the Pebble Bed is moulded
into symmetrical ripples which overlie asymmetrical forms, occasionally reaching up to
about 60 cmin wavelength. I n a northerly direction the pebbles spread over a pebble-
free substratum and appear to come from the south.
The Passage Beds are essentially clays with silts and sands. The occurrence of the
coarser sediment is distinctive. It is found in thin discontinuous layers and lenses
usually as sets of isolated ripple crests. The absence of silt and sand in the troughs
suggests that there was just enough coarse sediment to form the crests. Some of the
sandy ripples have minute terraces resembling many ripples found on intertidal areas
at the present day. Occasional bone beds are found and the coarser material gradually
dies out above. I n turn the beds pass into the structureless clay of the Soil Bed.
NON-GLACIAL LAKES 75
normal al l uvi al association delta-front sands
silts and clays
pro-delta silty clays col oni red by horsefai l s backswamp l ake shore-foce
gravel l y sands
S. L .
S.L.
Fig.33. Interpretation of Hastings cyclothems supposing that most of the sequence formed during
regression: S.L. = sea level static. (Adapted from P. ALLEN, 1959.)
normal o l l wi al aswciation
shore-face delta-front rands pro-delta
sands silts and clays si l ty clays
S.L.
val l ey -plug al l uvi al association
shore-face horsetail reed
uravels - .
K.L.
R.L.
Fig.34. Interpretation of Hastings cyclothems supposing upper portion (pebble bed and above)
formed during transgression: S.L. = sea level static; R.L. = sea level rising. (Adapted from P. ALLEN,
1959.)
The sequence can be interpreted in the same way as Carboniferous cyclothems,
i.e., in terms of one episode of delta outgrowth (Fig.33). But this is to ignore the peculiar
features of the sequence and the nature of the Pebble Bed, which have much more in
common with delta-front deposits than those formed upstream. As a more preferable
alternative P. Allen proposed that the Pebble Bed and succeeding strata represent
sedimentation during the transgressive rather than the regressive phase (Fig.34). The
Pebble Bed with its accumulations of horsetail fragments would then have formed at
the strand line of the encroaching lake. Upstream the effect of the transgression would
be to cause sedimentation of the coarse detritus previously swept down over the delta
i I I
Fig.35. Possible interpretations of Wealden megacyclothems taking account of detailed succession
including the presence of minor cyclothems. Interpretation 1 : cyclothem formed during regression.
Interpretation 2: cyclothem formed mainly during regression but transgressive phase beginning after
formation of soil bed. Interpretation 3: regressive phase represented up to top sandstone, transgressive
INTERPRETATION 2
PRO-DELTA AND DELTA-
FRONT CLAYS
point-bar sequence
\
'\bar finger,
channe
bnashoi
I- barrie
\
hlgh-bar silts
and clays
low-Lor rands and silts
C -
DELTA-CHANNEL
SAND-WAVES
DELTA-SHOREFACE
SANDS
DELTA-FRONT SILTS
AND CLAYS
offshore
channel /
oMan reedswamp
PRO-DELTA SILTY
CLAYS
i
5
J
0
n
n n
1
!
, n
I
1 n
1
?
I
,
I
1 ,
I
I
I
!
!
I
I
IMERPRETATION 3
PRO-DELTA AND DELTA-
FRONT CLAYS
'\bar finger,
)ELTA-SHOREFACE
fringing
reedswamp
shoreface silts
and clays
beach rond
/
DELTA-SHOREFACE
SANDS
DELTA-FRONT SILTS
AND CLAYS
offshod
channel /.'
P'
o&re reedswamp
PRO-DELTA SILTY
CLAYS
INTERPRETATION 4
OFFSHORE CLAYS.
reeds
iflat reeds
oint
barrier', bam'pr
', 1rl.d
NNER SHOREFACE
SEQUENCE
ahoreface r i l h
and clays
beach sand
BARRIER-SHOREFACE
SANDS
OFFSHORE SILTS
AND CLAYS
outer bar
v'
off&& d w a m p
OFFSHORE SILTY
CLAYS
phase from pebble bed upwards. Interpretation 4: regressive and transgressive phases as in 3 but
major sandstone of arenaceous formation and sandstone of minor cyclothem in argillaceous formation
interpreted as barrier sands. (After P. Allen, personal communication, 1965.)
78 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
front; the valleys would become plugged and sandy silts would be spread widely over
the delta surface. The cutting off of the debris would allow the reworking of the
previous deposits as the strand line moved forward. Behind the winnowed pebble and
piles of organic debris only finer material would be available for deposition as the
Passage Beds. The silt and sand, in short supply, would be able to form only disconti-
nuous rippled patches. As the water shoaled, colonising horsetails, perhaps growing
in a foot or two of water, established themselves to form a soil bed below and a fringing
screen lakewards of the advancing pebble bed. Beyond the horsetails in deeper water
the finest lake clays formed the remaining beds of the cycle.
If the Wealden succession is considered in a little more detail, in particular if the
occurrence of minor cycles is noted then complicating factors must be allowed for in
any interpretation. For example minor cyclothems a few metres thick may come into
the succession in the lower, arenaceous formation or in the upper, argillaceous for-
mation. These minor cyclothems are distinctly lenticular with an erosive base and
channel form. They reproduce on a smaller scale the lithological features and sequence
characteristic of the megacyclothems. In order to account for the development of the
minor cycles it seems necessary to postulate the local growth of bar finger, off-shore
barrier islands or longshore bars. This increases the number of possible interpretations
of the succession and these are summarised in Fig.35.
Although allowing the possibility that channel wandering could have been the
cause of the Wealden megacyclothems, P. Allen was impressed with the probable
correlation of the phases of transgression and regression with the events in the Paris
Basin. On any reconstruction it is clear that the Wealden Basin (or the Sussex
TABLE XI1
POSSIBLE CORRELATION OF WEALDEN MEGACYCLOTHEMS WITH TRANSGRESSIONS IN THE PARIS BASIN
(After P. ALLEN, 1959)
Mega-
cyclofhem
( Weald)
IV
? IT1
I1
I
Formation (Weald) Trend of
lake level
(Weald)
Middle and Upper Weald
Clay1 rising
Horsham Stone falling
Lower Weald Clay rising
Upper Tunbridge Wells falling
Grinstead Clay minor rise
I
Sand1
Lower Tunbridge Wells falling 1
Wadhurst Clay rising
c Ashdown Beds falling
Sand
Neocomian sea (Paris Basin)
Upper Barremian to Lower
Aptian Transgression
Barremian Regression
Hauterivian Transgression
Later Valanginian to Early
Haukrivian movements
Valanginian Transgression
Bemasian Regression
1 Including minor cyclothems
NON-GLACIAL LAKES
79
1
4,000
fl
H
3,000
a
A
Fig.36. A. Generalised sections through Lockatong and Brunswick Formations. B. Interpretation of
environmental conditions. (Adapted from VAN HOUTEN, 1962.)
Morass in P. Allens more evocative phraseology) must have been a marginal area
and closely affected by any rise in sea level. The Paris Basin during this time provides
clear evidence of major marine transgressions which might be linked (Table XI ) with
the megacyclothems of the Weald. If they are correlated in time then a eustatic or a
diastrophic control would seem to have operated in this region to form the rhythmic
sequences.
Another large-scalecycle was reported by VAN HOUTEN (1962) from the Lockatong
Formation (Fig.36). The detrital cycles tend to occur in groups separated by
chemical cycles, and the thickness of such groups is about 350 ft.1 The uppermost
1 More recently VAN HOUTEN (1964) recognised groups of intermediate thickness, 70-90 ft.
80 CYCLES IN LACUSTRINE REGIMES
two of these "detrital" bundles coincide with brownish beds interbedded with the
predominant grey measures of the Lockatong argillites. In the sequences above, the
short cycles die out but interbedded brown beds occur in the grey strata at intervals
between 325 and 375 ft. The Brunswick Shale above the Lockatong Formation is
predominantly brown in colour but it has interbedded grey strata which occur at
intervals from 350 to 425 ft. There appears therefore to be a long term variation around
345 ft. which, taking the average rate of sedimentation derived from the short Locka-
tong cycles and assuming these to be recession cycles, works out at an interval of half
a million years. Continuing to prefer a climatic control, Van Houten interpreted the
cycles as being related to long periods of alternating wet and dry conditions. During
the accumulation of the Lockatong Formation when conditions were predominantly
lacustrine and reducing, the drier periods of the long cycle would encourage evapora-
tion in the basins and the exposure of large areas as flood plains and mud flats.
Curiously, these periods coincided with some of the periods of through drainage as
represented in the detrital cycles. Conversely during Brunswick sedimentation condi-
tions were mainly flood plain and mud flat and only in wetter periods of the long cycle
did conditions change to indundation and lacustrine conditions. During such periods,
the grey measures were formed.
Chapter 4
TRANSITIONAL REGIMES, I-NORTH AMERICA
Of all the sequences displaying cyclic sedimentation those bearing coal are probably
best known. I n 1854, DAWSON, in his account of the Coal Measures of Joggins
Bank, Nova Scotia, described them as bearing witness to a long succession of oscilla-
tions between terrestrial and aquatic circumstances. His use of the term aquatic was
wise because we are still not sure, over 100 years later and despite the advances in
paleoecology and geochemistry, if, in many instances, weare dealing with predomi-
nantly marine or non-marine conditions during the non-continental periods. So far the
most reliable indicators of salinity are considered to be fossils, which are used to
distinguish beds of comparable lithology, as marine or non-marine. Beds without
fossils are generally considered non-marine (TRUEMAN, 1946, 1954; WELLER, 1957).
Differences of opinion of course exist, as will be seen later, but in general it appears
wecan distinguish between coal-bearing sequences where there are frequent marine
incursions and those where marine incursions are rare or absent. The evidence for a
marine incursion is often seen in a limestone but in many cases the only proof is on a
single bedding-plane of a shale. While wetherefore have various types of cycle which
could be classified and described separately, in many areas more than one type occurs,
sometimes stratigraphically apart, sometimes at the same horizon but geographically
separate. To avoid the confusion inherent in continually changing locale and to
emphasise the importance of palaeogeography in the understanding of cyclic sedimen-
tation the following accounts of coal-bearing cycles are given on an areal basis.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Pennsylvanian rocks in the United States of America have received most attention
and weshall concentrate on describing sedimentationin three areas, the Eastern Interior
(or Illinois) Basin, the Western Interior (or Mid-Continent) Basin and the Appalachian
Basin (Fig.37). The rocks under review consist in the main of shales, sandstones, lime-
stones and coals. All the evidence available points to the shallow-water origin of the
first three. Coal is generally assumed to indicate a period of emergence. Detailed
petrography is not included here but the interested reader is referred to WELLER (1957),
POTTER and GLASS (1958), FERM (1962), POTTER (1963), where he will find both detailed
observations and extensive bibliographies. While our survey is confined mainly to
Pennsylvanian rocks it will be realised that cyclic sedimentation of a comparable
nature is also present in rocks of Mississippian and Permian age (e.g., SWANN, 1964,
82 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
Fig.37. Distribution of Mississippian and Pennsylvanian rocks in areas mentioned in text. (After
POTTER, 1963.)
and R. C. MOORE, 1959, respectively). Rocks of these other two systems will be referred
to where relevant.
WANLESS (1950) aptly summarised the main features of Upper Palaeozoic sedi-
mentation in the continental interior of America. He pointed out that the epicontinen-
tal seas, repeatedly transgressing across central America during Late Mississippian,
Pennsylvanian and Early Permian times, advanced from the southwest. Consequently,
in Arizona and southwest New Mexico there is a predominantly marine succession,
in Kansas 7040% of the succession is marine, in Illinois 25-10% while in West
Virginia only 5 to less than 1 % represents marine strata. Stratigraphic divisions of the
Pennsylvanian are shown in Fig.38 along with a comparison of Pennsylvanian-
Carboniferous divisions in western Europe and Russia.
Eastern Interior Basin
UDDEN (1912) was impressed by the cyclic nature of the Pennsylvanian rocks in part
of Illinois (Fig.39). Each cycle may be said to present four successive stages, namely:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EST GERIUIWY
,w COUNTRiEl
FRANCE
83
sA/\R
NORTH-\
GREAT
BRlTAlN
3
- 0
2
4
D
-
C
B
A
C
-
-
-
0
A
-
-
m
-
II:
-
I
-
KUSELER
SCHICHTEN
5 UPPER
j
b LOWER
0.
2 UPPER
cc
3
m
% LOWER
;4
*
I
I
I
i
3
? -
RUSSIA I
VIRGIL
MISSOURI
DES
MOINES
ATOKA
(LAMPASAS)
MORROW
SPRINGER
ZHELIAN
ASHKlRlAF
IAMURIAN
VISZAN
TOUIHAISIAN
PSEUOOFUSULIW
HORIZON
I -
NORTH
1lDCONTlNENT
REGION
MERAMEC
OSAQE
KINDERHOOK
K ERICA m.y
APPALACHIAN
REGION
i
DUNKARD
-- - -- --
MONONGAHELA
ALLEGHENY i-
KANAWHA
POCAHONTAS
320
MAUCH CHUNK
----------- --
GREEN BRIER
330
I
Y O
POCONO
345
Fig.38. Correlation chart for the Carboniferous of northwest Europe, Russia and North America.
(After E. H. FRANCIS and WOODLAND, 1964.)
( I ) accumulation of vegetation; (2) deposition of calcareous material; (3) sand impor-
tation; and (4) aggradation to sea level and soil-making. (UDDEN, 1912, p.47.)
WELLER (1930) published his classic paper Cyclical sedimentation of the Penn-
sylvanianperiod and its signi@ance, expanding on Uddens work and laying the foun-
dation for detailed studies of Pennsylvanian rocks in America (and elsewhere) which
have produced such a wealth of literature and theories. His re-interpretation of Uddens
section is shown in Fig.39. The term cyclothem, to designate a series of beds deposited
during a single sedimentary cycle of the type that prevailed during the Pennsylvanian
period, was introduced in 1932 (WANLESS and WELLER, 1932, p.1003).
It will be noticed (Fig.39) that Udden commenced his cycles at the base of the
coal seams, i.e., at the beginning of his accumulation of vegetation stage. WELLER
(1930), however, decided that each cyclothem should be considered a formation and,
84 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
Fig.39. Cyclic sedimentation in the Pennsylvanian of Peoria, Illinois, as recognised by A. UDDEN
(1912) and B. WELLER (1930). (After SHROCK, 1948.)
following stratigraphic practice, should therefore commence with some evidence
of diastrophism. This latter was provided by the unconformity claimed to be present
at the base of each sandstone unit.
An eight-unit typical Pennsylvanian formation was erected in 1930 and later
modified (WELLER, 1931; WANLESS and WELLER, 1932; WELLER and WANLESS, 1939).
What is now regarded as the idealised Illinois cyclothem is shown in Fig.40. WELLER
(1961, p.141), however, emphasised that it is only a model, because it is neither ideal
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 85
Upper
Limestone
Mi ddl e
Limestone
Lower
Limestone
Fig.40. Idealised Illinois cyclothem: a = lower, dominantly non-marine, hemicyclothem; b = upper,
dominantly marine, hemicyclothem. 1 = sandstone, fine-grained, micaceous; and siltstone, argilla-
ceous; variable from massive to thin-bedded; usually with an uneven lower surface; 2 = shale, gray,
sandy; 3 = limestone, argillaceous; occurs in nodules or discontinuous beds; usually non-fossilif-
erous; 4 = underclay, mostly medium to light gray at top; upper part non-calcareous, lower part
calcareous; 5 = coal; locally contains clay or shale partings; 6 = shale, gray; pyritic nodules and
ironstone concretions common at base; plant fossils locally common at base; marine fossils rare; 7 =
limestone; contains marine fossils; 8 = shale, black, hard, fissile, slaty; contains large black sphe-
roidal concretions and marine fossils; 9 = limestone; contains marine fossils; 10 = shale, gray,
sandy at top; contains marine fossils and ironstone concretions, especially in lower part. (After
WELLER, 1956; KOSANKE et al., 1960.)
nor typical for all parts of the Illinois stratigraphic section nor for the Pennsylvanian
sections of other regions. He had earlier (1956, p.28) qualified the Illinois cyclothem
by noting (our italics) the most common clear development includes members 1 (and,
or2),4,5,8,9 and lo, thoughin 1957(p.330) he said In its simplest obvious development
a Pennsylvanian cyclothem consists of the following five members:
(10) Shale.
(9) Limestone.
(5) Coal.
( 4) Underclay.
( I ) Sandstone.
86 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
C
MACOUPIN TYPE
(i)
A
LA SALLE TYPE
(11)
BOGOTA TYPE
(iii)
Fig.41. Variants of Illinois idealised cyclothem-ornament as for Fig.40. A. Simplest obvious devel-
opment (WELLER, 1957). B. Characteristic variations (WELLER, 1961). C. Named variations (WELLER,
1961).
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 87
Other common variants of the idealised cyclothem have been described (WELLER,
1961) and are shown in Fig.41. That some of these cyclothem types may occur in the
Illinois succession in a particular order is discussed on p.95.
Both Weller and other workers (WELLER and WANLESS, 1939; WANLESS, 1950,
1962, 1964; GRAY, 1962) have emphasised that there are considerable variations in the
Pennsylvanian succession in the Eastern Interior Basin. The types of cyclothems, their
number and their thickness, change with, among other factors, the overall thickness of
the succession.
WANLESS (1964) pointed out that the cyclic pattern varied from place to place
and from time to time in the same place. In some areas variation was greater than in
others and equivalent stratigraphic sequences could have different types and numbers
of cyclothems. He thought that the Liverpool cyclothem, with certain regionally
extensive units, perhaps composed a representative cyclothem. I t consists basically
of units 1,3,4,5,8,9,10 of the ideal of Fig.40.
While differences in cyclothem type are reasonably well documented there is a
lack of consistency in the recording of the number and thickness of cyclothems in a
succession in any particular area. What information we can find from the literature on
these points is given in Table XIII.
Cyclic sedimentation has recently been described from rocks of Chesterian
(Upper Mississippian) age in Illinois (SWANN, 1964). These differ from Pennsylvanian
rocks in that they are made up of approximately 25 % limestone, 25 % sandstone, and
50 % shale compared with 4 % limestone, 33 % sandstone, and 63 % shale for the Illi-
nois Pennsylvanian in general (POTTER, 1963). SWANN (1964) made no attempt to
define a cyclothem but merely emphasised that the succession consisted of alternations
of limestone-dominated and clastic-dominated units. The latter include sandstones,
shales, underclays and thin coals. I t was thought that the succession, up to 1,500 ft.
TABLE XlII
THICKNESS AND NUMBER OF CYCLOTHEMS IN PENNSYLVANIAN OF ILLINOIS
Area Average Number Author
thickness
(ft.)
- - ~~- _ _ ~~ _ _ __ __ ___
Central U.S.A. 38 WANLESS and SHEPARD, 1936
Western Illinois 25 WANLESS, 1950
Central States <50 WELLER, 1956
Northwestern Illinois 221 23 WANLESS, 1957
lllinois 55-80 37 BRANSON, 1962a
East Central U.S.A. 30 WANLESS, 1963
Eastern Interior Basin 25 WANLESS, 1962
___ -
1 There are 500 ft. of Pennsylvanian rocks in this area (WANLESS, 1957).
2 There are 2,000-3,OOO ft. of Pennsylvanian rocks in lllinois (KOSANKE et al., 1960).
88 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
thick at outcrop, showed fifteen major cycles of advance and retreat of the sea although
there was evidence for at least 70 minor reversals in the direction of shore movement
superimposed on these.
Mid- Continent Basin
R. C. MOORE (1936, 1949, 1950, 1959) described Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian
cyclothems from Kansas and adjacent areas. The following members were proposed to
describe the ideal cyclothem (R. C. MOORE, 1936, p. 24-25):
( 9) Shale (and coal).
(8) Shale, typically with molluscan fauna.
(7) Limestone, algal, molluscan, or with mixed molluscan and molluscoid
(6) Shale, molluscoids dominant.
( 5) Limestone, contains fusulinids, associated commonly with molluscoids.
( 4) Shale, molluscoids dominant.
(3) Limestone, molluscan, or with mixed molluscan and molluscoid fauna.
(2) Shale, typically with molluscan fauna.
fauna.
( I c ) Coal.
( Ib) Underclay.
( l a ) Shale, may contain land-plant fossils.
(0) Sandstone.
Members (0) and ( 1) in the initial part of the cyclothem and (9) at the end are
non-marine. The remaining members are marine. Cycles of this type occurred in the
Virgilian Wabaunsee Group. (See Table XIV for stratigraphic divisions of Pennsyl-
vanian in Kansas.)
R. C. MOORE (1936) followed Weller in commencing the cyclothem with the
sandstone. I t was emphasised, however, that the fusulinid limestone (5) represented the
culmination of a marine transgression while the beds above (6-8) recorded a regressive
marine phase (Fig.42). This made the Kansas cyclothem nearly symmetrical and there-
fore different from the Illinois type.
I n the Shawnee Group below the Wabaunsee, however, cyclothems were
different again. The group had been divided (R. C. MOORE, 1936) into four limestone
formations separated by relatively thick shale formations. In each limestone formation
distinctive types of limestone occurred separated by usually thin shales, but always in
the same order. These limestone members were known as the lower, middle,
upper and super limestones respectively and, except in some cases, the super
were typically fusulinid-bearing. The lower limestone is characteristically massive,
brown-weathering, ferruginous, the middle thin, dense, blue and the upper
comparatively thick and wavy bedded (R. C. MOORE, 1950). The thin shale members
too were distinctive. An easily recognisable black fissile shale, for instance, occurred
only between the middle and upper limestone members.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 89
Between the limestone formations the thick shale formations were frequently
sandy and non-marine. In their middle parts, however, one or two thin marine, non-
fusulinid limestones occurred while coals sometimes appeared in the upper part.
The succession was therefore made up of two quite distinctive types of cyclic
deposits-the complex multi-limestone portions and the simple cycle of the shale
formations. The problem thus arose as to how these might be compared with the
ideal Wabaunsee type cyclothem. Moore first considered whether each multi-
limestone portion of the succession might simply represent a rather complex type of
ideal cyclothem, the three (plus) fusulinid limestones being the equivalent of the
fusulinid member (5) of the Wabaunsee cycle (Fig.43). The shale-formation cyclothem
compared quite well with the Wabaunsee one. The succession then could be considered
as consisting of alternating complex and simple (or major and minor) cyclothems. This
combination of different types of cyclothems, or cycle of cyclothems, Moore thought
should be recognised and he proposed the term megacyclothem to describe it.
There was, however, another possibility. Perhaps the different limestone mem-
bers of the limestone formations were each part of incomplete individual cyclothems.
In other words the succession Moore had previously postulated as being made up of
two cyclothems might actually represent j i v e (Fig.43). Accepting the cyclic concept
(i.e., units appearing in a particular order) then the position of certain distinctive
members in the succession could now be more readily explained. Moore decided on
this second hypothesis as being the more likely. A megacyclothem thus consisted of a
bundle of five incomplete cyclothems. Fig.43 has been constructed from R. C.
MOORES (1936) text to illustrate the two possibilities. We have used the same sequence
of Shawnee rocks to demonstrate the conflicting hypotheses, though for some, not
obvious, reason this was not done in the original paper.
TABLE XIV
DIVISIONS OF PENNSnVANIAN IN KANSAS
Series Grows
Virgdian Wabaunsee
Shawnee
Douglas
Missourian Pedee
Lansing
Kansas City
Pleasanton
Desmoinesian Marmaton
Cherokee
Atokan
Morrowan
90
I
Algal limestone (contains
near-sbre and bmckish
Urnstone (contains far
off-shoreinvertebrates,
especially furulinids)
LlmesMne, impure to shdy
(contains intermodfate
off-shore invertebrates)
Shale, marine (contains
mrar-shore invertebrates)
WI I -S~~I U invertebrates)
Urnstone (contains fm
off-sbre invertebrates,
especially fusulinids)
Llmestone, shaly (contains
intermediate off-shore
... ._ .... bnmarine shale, =3
DisconformiW -
Llmertone (contains
furulinids)
TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
I
Nonmarine
Conti ,
nental
rdimeni
n t h
-
44,
/
..I-
/
-I-(
M n e
Submerged by
Shallow Sea
Inter
ml Mar mediate Far
amp ginal Off- Off-
share shore
Regressi ng
&
Fig.42. Diagrammatic section of Pennsylvanian rocks in Kansas showing cyclic sedimentation. (After
R. C. MOORE, 1959.)
Megacyclothems from different stratigraphic levels are shown in Fig.44, but it
should be realised that while in general the Pennsylvanian succession in Kansas
consists of alternating carbonates and clastics, neither cyclothems nor megacyclothems,
as such, have been reported from all subdivisions. R. C. MOORE (1949), for instance,
made no mention of cyclothems in rocks of Morrowan or Atokan age. As has already
been noted the type of cyclothems can vary stratigraphically and of course when traced
laterally a cyclothem changes. Table XV shows further stratigraphical variations. (It
is of interest to note how the Wabaunsee cyclothem given in Table XV differs from
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
91
A
A B
f v
h
\
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ - ---- --_-
_____-----
__----
Most prominent persistent
strati graphi c uni ts
* and widely recogni sed
Li mestone al gal mari ne
L i mestone fusul i ni d marine
L i mestone mori ne
Shale block f i s s i l e mari ne
Fig.43. Diagrammatic illustration (not to scale) of alternative interpretations (R. C. MOORE, 1936) of
Shawnee Group succession as being: A, equivalent to five Wabaunsee-typecycles; or B, two Wabaunsee-
type cycles. Central graphic column has been expanded for diagrammatic purposes, leaving gaps
where units might be considered not to have developed, partial gaps where units are thin and unirn-
portant. (Based on succession given in R. C. MOORE, 1936, pp.30-31.)
92 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
TABLE XV
VARIATIONS IN KANSAS CYCLOTHEMS~
Missourian Virgilian
____
Desmoinesian
Cherokee Group Marmaton Group Kansas City Group Wabaunsee Group
(HOWE, 1956)z (R. C. MOORE, (R. C. MOORE, (R. C. MOORE, (R. C. MOORE,
(southeastern 1949) 1949) 1949) 1950)
Kansas)
(Limestone and
sandstone)
(Shale, PY )
(Shale, dark and
limestone)
Coal
Underclay
Limestone and
sandstone
Shale, gray
Shale, dark and
limestone
Shale, calcareous
Limestone
Shale, gray
Shale, black
Coal
Underclay
Shale, sandy
Sandstone
Shale, gray to
brownish or lime-
stone
Shale, black, platy
Coal
Underclay
Shale, sandy, silty
Sandstone,
and clayey
non-marine
Limestone
Shale or limestone Shale, marine
containing marine
fossils
Coal Coal
Underclay Underclay
Shale, sandy to Shale, non-marine
Sandstone, Sandstone,
clayey
non-marine fine-micaceous
1 Lithologies in brackets added to facilitate comparison.
2 Described with coal as top unit.
the ideal described on p.88.) MERRIAM (1963) emphasised that cyclothems can be
symmetrical or asymmetrical according to the arrangement of the marine and non-
marine components. He also pointed out that the ideal cycle is seldom seen. What is
particularly noteworthy, however, is the great lateral persistence of some units.
Limestones, for instance, are said to be traceable in some cases from Oklahoma to
Pennsylvania (R. C. MOORE, 1959) and cover areas as great as 80,000 sq. miles. On the
other hand it is not easy to understand in many instances how individual cyclothems
are delimited (e.g., Fig.44). The fact that units are not infrequently assigned to different
cyclothems in different studies presumably indicates how incomplete many cyclothems
are. This is emphasised by BRANSON (1962a, p.449) who, in discussing the Mid-
Continent area said: A general misconception of the nature of cyclical sediments has
been widely held. An ideal cyclothem has not been found, and in the Mid-Continent no
cyclothem approaches the ideal. The normal well-developed cyclothem of the area, and
there are few such, is shown below:
Shale, dark unfossiliferous, with clay-ironstone concretions.
Limestone, locally rich in fusulinids.
Shale, gray, containing myalinid fossils.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 93
A
I
Index
X- L i ght gr ay, wavy thin beds Y- Blue, dense,vertical-jointed even bed
Z-Yellow-brown. ferruginous, massive beds
Cycl othems o f each rnegacycl ot hem are numbered i n upward order
0
too
ton
200
300
400
500
600
700
Fig.44. Kansas megacyclothems: X = light gray, wavy thin beds; Y = blue, dense, vertical-jointed
even bed; 2 = yellow-brown, fermginous, massive beds. Cyclothems of each megacyclothem are
numbered in upward order. (After R. C. MOORE, 1950.)
Limestone or clay-ironstone, marginiferids abundant.
Shale, black, fissile, phosphatic.
coal.
Underclay.
Shale, silty, fossil plants.
Sandstone, non-marine, locally conglomeratic.
94 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
Illinois
.------
Fig.45. Croweburg-Verdigris cyclothem. (After BRANSON, 1962a.)
He pointed out that a cyclothem which is fairly uniform over a large area is
rare and gave as an example the Croweburg-Verdigris cyclothem (Fig.45). This figure is
shown not only because it illustrates that even a fairly uniform cyclothem is quite
variable but because it illustrates the difficulties in deciding just how the top and
bottom of the cyclothem are identified. We shall return to this subject later.
As with Illinois it is not easy to give a definite answer on the question of the
number and thickness of cyclothems present in the area. BRANSON (1962a, p.450) noted
that On the Oklahoma-Kansas platform there seem to be more than 60 such cycles,
41 marked by coal beds, at least locally. WANLESS (1950) recognised 25-30 cycles in
Kansas while MERRIAM (1963, p.177) thought there might be as many as 85.
No author to our knowledge has given an average thickness for the Kansas
cyclothem though R. C. MOORE (1949) described 15 cyclothems of Cherokee age
ranging in thickness from 10 to 70 it. (average of about 32 ft.). HOWE (1956) described
rocks of similar age from southeast Kansas and while he redefined the limits of the
cyclic units (he used the top of the coals instead of the conventional American choice
of the base of the sandstones) it is interesting to note that the average thickness of
these cycles also works out at about 30 ft. In the Wabaunsee Group, 320-520 ft.
thick (MERRIAM, 1963), there are 15 cyclothems (R. C. MOORE, 1950) which would
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 95
again give an average thickness of the same order. Two typical Wabaunsee Group
cyclothems illustrated by R. C. MOORE (1936, p.23) are about 35 and 45 ft. thick.
Returning now to the question of megacyclothems, WELLER (1958) indicated
that there are four present in each of the Marmaton, Kansas City, Lansing and
Shawnee Groups and one in the Wabaunsee (Table XIV). R. C. MOORE (1959) con-
sidered that they are also present in the Lower Permian rocks in Kansas.
Attempts to compare the Kansas and Illinois types of cyclic sedimentation
(e.g., R. C. MOORE, 1950, 1959; WELLER, 1958, 1961; WANLESS, 1964) have led to the
same type of problem encountered by R. C. MOORE (1936) when considering the
Wabaunsee and Shawnee successions. Is the Kansas megacyclothem equivalent to a
group of Illinois cyclothems or is it simply a variant of a single Illinois cyclothem?
WELLER (1942, 1958, 1961) favoured the first possibility. On re-examination of
the Illinois succession he recognised a repetition in order of three types of cyclothem
(Fig.41,46). A cycle of cyclothems started with one of Macoupin type (more or less the
idealised Illinois cyclothem but with no fresh-water lower limestone). This was
succeeded by a La Salle type (lacking lower and middle limestones, and black
shale, but with a very well developed upper limestone). One, but more often two or
three, Bogota type cyclothems followed (marine middle and upper limestones
absent but fresh-water lower limestone and black shale prominent). This cycle of
cyclothems was then repeated. Weller used the black shale between the middle and
upper limestones as the main key to his correlation (Fig.46).
WANLESS (1964) also used the same black shale to show that the Kansas mega-
cyclothem is the equivalent of one Illinois fully developed cyclothem. The coal of
the Illinois sequence was equated with the Kansas middle limestone and the lower
fresh-water limestone of the Illinois cyclothem with the lower marine limestone of
Kansas.
I t is difficult to assess the two views adequately on the information presented.
Some of the evidence is contradictory. WELLER (1958) for example, stated categorically
that no evidence is known certainly substantiating the possibility that the marine
lower limestones of Kansas megacyclothems are equivalent to either the fresh-
water lower^' limestones or the rare marine zones in the basal sandstones of the
Illinois cyclothems, yet WANLESS (1 964, p.603) maintained that while underclay
limestones in the Illinois Basin commonly formed in fresh-water lakes or brackish
lagoons, they were contemporary with transgressive marine limestones to the
southwest.
Weller gave no details of the Illinois succession when discussing it in terms of his
three cyclothem types (other variants such as those shown in Fig.41 were not mention-
ed). As far as weknow no actual section of Illinois rocks illustrating the cycle of cyclo-
thems has been published. WELLER (1958, 1961) did, however, analyse the Kansas
sequence in some detail (showing, incidentally, just how difficult it is to divide the
sequence into cyclothems and megacyclothems in a generally acceptable manner).
WANLESS (1964) used as the main comparison with the Kansas megacyclothem an
Illinois cyclothem lacking in units 6 and 7 of the fully developed one. His careful
96 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
Fig.46. comparison of Kansas and Illinois cyclothems-ornarnent as for Fig.40. (After WELLER,
1958.)
areal study of individual cyclothems would seem to indicate that this type of variant
is common; it unfortunately resembles none of Wellers three main types!
Areal facies studies such as those undertaken by LAPORTE (1962), WANLESS et al.
(1963), IEWRIE et al. (1964), and WANLESS (1964), are, weconsider, the most important
need in attempting to solve this problem. On present evidence weconsider it unlikely
that a Kansas megacyclothem represents a series of incomplete cyclothems, perhaps
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 97
equivalent to a series of Illinois cyclothems (after all the intercalation of cyclothems
from place to place in Illinois makes correlation within the state difficult enough-
see, e.g., KOSANKE et al., 1960; WANLESS, 1964). As wehave already pointed out it is
not easy to separate, on a completely rational basis, the suspected cyclothems within
a megacyclothem. What wecan see is a vertical sequence of different limestone types.
But until it is known what these changes represent in terms of depth of water (see
p. 1 1 l)and, just as important, how individual megacyclothems and their component units
change facies laterally, it seems unprofitable to speculate further. BRANSON (1962a,
p.451), discussing the Mid-Continent area, was very outspoken: The imperfections
of the megacyclothems.. . are such that they can now be regarded only as hypo-
thetical units possibly indicating some sort of recurrent conditions.
Cyclic sedimentation in Kansas continued into Lower Permian times. Wolf-
campian beds mainly consist of alternating thin shales and limestones. J EWETT (1933)
is credited with first recognising their similarity to the underlying Pennsylvanian rocks.
ELIAS (1937) paid particular attention to the evidence for the depth of sea water provid-
ed by the abundant fossils. Basically he considered the sequence to be one of continen-
tal red shales alternating with marine shales and limestones. Starting with the continen-
tal shales a symmetrical idealised cyclothem could be erected (Table XVI).
Elias emphasised that no single cycle showed all phases of the ideal one though
one or two are practically complete. The average thickness of a cycle is 50 ft. HATTIN
(1957, p.6) examined in detail the Wreford Limestone and associated beds, part of the
Chase Group, and recognised two nearly complete cyclothems making up the
Wreford megacyclothem. The typical transgressive hemicycle begins with red
shale (locally with a sandstone) followed, in upward order, by green shale, mudstone,
molluscan limestone, calcareous shale and cherty limestone (including chalky-
limestone reef development). The typical regressive hemicycle includes the same rock
types in reverse stratigraphic order except that the molluscan limestone equivalent is
commonly algal. R. C. MOORE (1959) considered that many Lower Permian sequences
in Kansas displayed repetitions of a megacyclic nature and MERRIAM (1963) also
emphasised their cyclic aspects.
AppaIachian Basin
In contrast with Kansas where the succession is predominantly marine the Pennsyl-
vanian rocks of the Appalachian region are predominantly non-marine. The axial
region of the Appalachian trough contains the thickest succession, made up of sand-
stones, conglomerates, clays, shales and coals. Here and eastwards cyclicity is marked
by the recurrence of coal beds. Westwards, however, the intercalation of recognisable
marine beds makes the cyclic pattern more like that of Illinois.
In some areas a cyclothem is more likely to resemble those above and below it
than its lateral equivalents. In others there seems to be a fairly pronounced change in
cycle type stratigraphically. STOUT (193 1) drew attention to the Ohio Pennsylvanian
98 TRANSITIONAL. REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
succession and the change from alternating marine and continental conditions near the
base to predominantly continental conditions at the top. As a consequence there was a
considerable change in cyclothem type up the succession (Fig. 47). He considered that
the Ohio rocks were made up of cycles in which coal was the most constant unit and
that there were seven main types of cycle present (Table XVII). There were of course
local modifications of these types so that incomplete and irregular cycles occurred
quite frequently. As far as Ohio was concerned he considered that no regional dis-
conformities existed and thus chose the coal as the starting point of the cycles. Some
45 coal beds occurred in the succession and the cycles averaged 26 ft. in thickness (the
range was from 2 ft. 0 inch to 110 ft. 2 inches).
Fig.47. Stratigraphic range of cycle types listed in Table XVII.
TABLE XVI
IDEALISED BIG BLUE CYCLE OF DEPOSITION IN NORTH-CENTRAL KANSAS
(Em, 1937, p.411)
Number Phases established chiefly
on paleontologic evidence
Corresponding typical lithology
Red shale
Green shale
Lingula phase
Molluscan phase
Mixed phase
Brachiopod phase
Fusulinid phase
Brachiopod phase
Mixed phase
Molluscan phase
Lingula phase
Green shale
Red shale
Clayey to fine sandy shale,
Sandy, often varved (?), rarely
Clayey shale, mudstone to
Massive mudstone, shaly limestone
Limestone, flint, calcareous
Massive mudstone, shaly limestone
Clayey shale, mudstone to bedded
Sandy, often varved (?), rarely
} rarely consolidated
clayey shale
bedded limestone
shale
limestone
clayey shale
}Clayey to fine sandy shale,
rarely consolidated
UNITED STAT= OF AMERICA 99
TABLE XVII
SEVEN MAIN TYPES OF CYCLE IN OHIO ROCKS
(After STOUT, 1931)
A.
Clay, fresh-water
Shale and sandstone, largely marine
Iron ore, marine
Limestone, marine
Coal, fresh-water
C.
Clay, fresh-water
Shale and sandstone, probably brackish-
water or marine
Shale, brackish-water
Coal, fresh-water
E.
Clay, fresh-water
Limestone, fresh-water
Shale and sandstone, fresh-water
Coal, fresh-water
G.
Clay, fresh-water
Shale and sandstone, fresh-water
Coal, fresh-water
B.
Clay, fresh-water
Shale and sandstone, largely
Limestone, marine
Coal, fresh-water
marine
D.
Clay, fresh-water
Limestone, fresh-water
Shale and sandstone, partially
Limestone, marine
Coal, fresh-water
marine
F.
Clay, fresh-water
Limestone and calcareous shale,
fresh-water
Coal, fresh-water
REGER (1931) described the West Virginian succession in terms of cycles with a
(9) Sandstone.
(8) A coal or rider coal (ridercoal).
(7) Ferruginous shale or sandy shale (overshale B).
(6) Ferruginous or sandy limestone, with or without marine fossils (overlime-
(5) Black fissile shale with plant fossils or a brackish-water fauna (overshale A).
( 4) Principal coal.
(3) Fireclay or fireclay shale (undershale B).
(2) Fresh-water limestone (underlimestone).
(I) Sandy or red and variegated shale (undershale A).
Mainly for practical reasons (e.g., mapping) the tops of the sandstones were
chosen to divide the succession into cycles. REGER (1931) was so impressed with the
cyclical arrangement of the beds he proposed, for incomplete successions, that missing
members should be named and referred to as phantoms~. This scheme was consider-
ed applicable to the Mississippian and Permian successions of the Appalachians. I t
maximum succession of beds in each cycle as follows:
stone).
100 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
TABLE XVlII
VARIATIONS IN APPALACHIAN BASIN PENNSYLVANIAN CYCLOTHEMS
~ _ _ ~ ~ ~~
Lower Pennsylvanian Pottsville Group Allegheny Group Conemaugh Group Monongahela Group Monongahela Group
Ohio Dundee, Ohio Appalachians Ohio Central Appalachians Ohio
(STURGEON et al., (GRAY, 1961) (BRANSON, (BRANSON, 1962b) (BRANSON, 1962b) (BRANSON, 1962b)
1958) 1962b)
Shale, marine
Limestone, marine
Shale, brackish or
Coal Coal
Underclay Underclay or
Limestone (may Shale
marine
mudstone
contain fresh water
fossils)
Shale Sandstone
Shale, marine or Limestone, marine Roof shale
Coal Coal Coal Coal
Underclay Underclay Underclay Underclay
Limestone, fresh Claystone, red Limestone, fresh Limestone, fresh
limestone or shale
water calcareous water water
Sandstone and Sandstone and Claystone, red Claystone, red
shale shale
Mudstone
Sandstone
Sandstone Shale, sandy Shale
Sandstone Iron ore and/
or chert
Local disconformity Limestone
Shale
-~ ~ _ _ . ~ ~ ~ _ _ _ ~~
was calculated that there were 58 cycles in the Pottsville rocks, five in the Allegheny,
eighteen in the Conemaugh and ten in the Monongahela.
ASHLEY (1931), however, was not so impressed with the cyclical nature of the
beds in Pennsylvania. While accepting the great lateral extent of some beds and the
possibility of an unconformity at the base of most sandstones he did not feel there was
any persistent order of units in the succession, apart from the common association of
argillaceous deposits below, within and above coals.
More recent work has underlined the areal and stratigraphical differences in the
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 101
__
- Monongahela Group Lowerand Middle Monongahela Group Upper Monongahela Upper Monongahela and
Pennsylvania, Monongahela Group and Dunkard Group, and Permian Lower Dunkard Groups
W. Virginia Ohio, Pennsylvania, Athens Co., Ohio Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
(BRANSON, 1962b) W. Virginia W. Virginia W. Virginia
(STURGEON et al., (STURGEON et al., (STURGEON et al., 1958) (BEERBOWER, 1961)
1958) 1958)
Shale, sandy; or
disconformity
Shale, silty,
calcareous
Shale, with roof
coals and plants
Shale, with plants
Limestone, brackish Limestone, brackish Roof shale
Coal Coal coal
Underclay Clay shale Underclay
Limestone, fresh Limestone, fresh Limestone, fresh
water water
water water(?) water
Sandstone Siltstone, calcareous Redbeds
Clay, grey plastic
(This compares with
succession given by
CROSS and ARKLE
(1952) save that their limestone
description commenced Claystone, red, limy/
with clay shale) limestone
Claystone, gray, limy/
Siltstone
Sandstone
Shale, silty calcareous; Siltstone
Shale, silty calcareous Shale, silty
Shale, with plants Shale, clay
Coal, bony, shaly Shale
Limestone, brackish Limestone
water
coal Coal
Clay shale
or disconformity
with roof coals
Limestone, microfossils
Limestone,
argillaceous
Sandstone Shale and sandstone Limestone, silty
Sandstone
non-
fossil-
iferous
Appalachian Basin. Table XVIII summarises many of the cyclothem types described.
It is obviously impossible to speak of an ideal Appalachian cyclothem. The variety,
both in type and in number, makes generalisation difficult. Some of the earlier estimates
of thickness and numbers have been given. In Ohio recent information indicates a
distribution like that given in Table XIX. Pottsvillian rocks perhaps show the most
striking variations when considered over the whole basin. In southern West Virginia
a coal seam some 4,000 ft. and 60 cyclothems from the base of the Pottsvillian is
correlatable with a seam 300 ft. and 10 cyclothems from the base of the Pottsvillian in
102 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Part of the diminution is through loss of the
lower cyclothems by overlap on an unconformity. Some additional changes are through
interruptions by erosion surfaces within the cyclothems sequence, and by convergence
within single cyclothems (KAY and COLBERT, 1965, p.250). The same authors state
that while the average thickness of a cyclothem is about 30 ft. in Pennsylvania 60 ft.
is approached further south. A single cyclothem a few feet thick in northeastern Ohio
swells to 500 ft. in Tennessee.
The difficulties in trying to pick one representative cycle are apparent from
Tables XVII and XVIII. This by no means exhausts the list. BRANSON (196213) also
referred to 9-, 10- and 11- unit cyclothems from the Conemaughgroup of the Pittsburgh
area. CROSS and ARKLE (1952) described Conemaugh, Monongahela and Dunkard
Group rocks in Ohio and West Virginia and said it was impossible (p. 103) to outline a
single type of cyclical sequence of component sediments for the entire area of any of
the major series. . . because of facies changes. They did, however, suggest an 1 1-unit
cyclothem for the Monongahela series in the central and western part of the Dunkard
area, pointing out that some of the members are quite different lithologically when
traced east and north. CROSS and SCHEMEL (1956) described a variant as representative
of the upper Monongahela and lower Dunkard in West Virginia while postulating an
8-unit cycle for the upper Dunkard. BEERBOWER (1961) considered that the Dunkard
Group in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio includes about 40 cyclothems (cf.
Table XIX).
TABLE XIX
THICKNESS AND NUMBER OF CYCUlTHEMS IN OHIO
Group Number of cycles Total thickness Average thickness
(ft.) (ft.)
Dunkard (permian)l 15
Monongahela 12
Conemaugh1 15
Allegheny1 12
Pottsville2 10
(highest part)
330 22
40 1 33
547 36
263 22
180 18
1 STURGFON et al. (1958).
BRANSON (1962b).
Rocky Mountain Region
Mixed continental-marine cycles have of course been described from systems other
than the Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Permian in the U.S.A.
YOUNG (1955, 1957) recognised cyclic sedimentation in Upper Cretaceous beds
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 103
in central and eastern Utah and western Colorado. It proved possible to divide up the
succession into marine shales and continental sandstones, shales and coals. The alter-
nation was due to the intertonguing of continental deposits from the west with the
marine Mancos shale from the east. Young interpreted the sequence as showing cycles
of sedimentation which, when fully represented, would show a complete cyclothem
as follows:
( 4) Coal.
(3) Lagoonal deposits.
(2) Littoral marine sandstone.
( I ) Marine shale.
The marine shales, disconformable on the beds below, were regarded as being
deposited in deeper water off-shore at the same time as part of the littoral marine
sandstones. As the beaches grew seawards, however, sands covered the earlier deposit-
ed marine mud, hence the latter was designated unit 1. The sandstones (unit 2) can be
up to 100 ft. thick, though in places they are represented by sandstone and shale, while
they can be absent altogether. The lagoonal deposits (unit 3) are carbonaceous shales,
silty shales, sandstone and coals which can reach 150 ft. in thickness. Unit 4 is a thick
coal.
Young interpreted the beds of unit 3 as being made up of incomplete cyclothems
lacking in the marine sandstones and shales of units 1 and 2. He therefore, rather
ambiguously, designated a complete sequence with widespread units I and 2 at the
base a megacyclothem, which contained numerous cyclothems (e.g., in unit 3).
SABINS (1964) described beds of similar age from the San J uan Basin in New
Mexico. He interpreted the succession in terms of three lithological members: (a)
Marine shale, containing two widespread thin limestones; (b) Marine sandstone,
transgressive or regressive; and (c) Continental strata-interbedded coal, claystone,
carbonaceous shale and fluvial sandstone.
He considered a symmetrical cycle occurred as follows:
Continental strata.
Regressive marine sandstone.
Marine shale.
Transgressive marine sandstone.
Continental strata.
The cycles were defined (p.294) by arbitrary divisions approximately through
the midde of the continental units. The marine shale represented both transgressive
and regressive phases. Somewhere in the middle marked the greatest depth of water.
Transgressive sandstones are rare so most cycles are in fact asymmetrical.
The thicknesses of the constituent units of the cycles are measurable in hundreds
of feet and the continental strata contain many coal seams. As with the sequences
described by YOUNG (1955) it is apparent that these cycles from New Mexico are of a
different order of magnitude from those described from the Palaeozoic. Periodic,
relatively fast, subsidence was postulated as the main reason for the marine trans-
gressions (SEARS et al., 1941; YOUNG, 1955), the regressions being due to sediment
104 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
accumulation during periods of slower subsidence. The theory of intermittent sub-
sidence is discussed in Chapter 5 and objections raised to its validity for the formation
of Carboniferous cyclothems might also be considered with regard to these Cretaceous
examples.
CANADA
Nova Scotia
It is perhaps appropriate to end this descriptive section of North American coal-bear-
ing sequences by returning to the Carboniferous succession of J oggins Bank, Nova
Scotia, mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. Strictly speaking, as no marine beds
have been identified, such cycles as are present should be dealt with elsewhere. Even
so it is doubtful if the J oggins section should be dealt with under continental cycles.
From published descriptions the rocks sound very similar in facies and fossil content
(ROGERS, 1965) to the European Coal Measures and it is with them they should per-
haps be grouped. On geographical and historical grounds, however, we prefer to
describe them along with other North American coal-bearing cycles.
COPELAND (1959, p.16) gave a general sequence of deposition in each cycle as:
(7) Sandstone and shale, grey, interbedded.
(6) Shale, grey, sometimes containing ironstone nodules.
(5) Shale, black, carbonaceous with ostracods and pelecypods.
(4) Shale, grey to black, highly calcareous with ostracods and pelecypods.
(3) Coal.
(2) Underclay.
(1) Sandstone.
Some cycles may lack bed 2 or 3, or both, and in some places bed 4 may occur
in an incomplete cycle below bed 2 or intercalated with bed 5. Copeland also included
graphic sections showing types of cyclical deposition as follows: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,6;
1,2,4,2,3,4,5,6,7; 1,6,2,3,5,4,5,6,7; and 1,6,3,5,6,7.
He pointed out that most cycles cannot be traced along the strike due to lateral
variation, though the cycles containing the major coal seams were recognisable over a
wide area.
In some 5,000 ft. of beds, comprising part of the Upper Carboniferous (West-
phalian) Cumberland Group, more than 60 cycles have been noted, varying in
thickness from a few inches to several tens of feet.
THEORIES OF ORIGIN
As pointed out in Chapter 1 there is a crying need for more objective and quantitative
data on cyclothems. In the preceding pages it is obvious that the separation of the
THEORIES OF ORIGIN 105
modal cycle, the composite sequence and the ideal cycle is not easy. What seems to
have been given in most cases is the composite sequence, while variants mentioned
correspond presumably to modal cycles. The confusion in nomenclature is only partly
due to the failure of most authors to separate properly observation from interpretation;
it is also a reflection of the very great variation in cycle types present in the Pennsylva-
nian of the U.S.A. We think it is essential to correct the view, implicit in many publi-
cations, that the Illinois cyclothem typifies the American Pennsylvanian. It does not,
as WANLESS (1950) and WELLER (1956, 1957, 1961), for example, have beenatpains to
point out. Furthermore, while a few individual cyclothems are traceable over consider-
able distances, many are not. Even in those that are traceable through, say, Oklahoma,
Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky, areal variations are considerable (Fig.48),
yet this part of the succession shows the finest and most uniform display of cyclic
sedirnentation (WANLESS et al., 1963, p.441; our italics). Hardly a lithology persists
throughout. There are considerable correlation problems between the various Pennsyl-
vanian areas described in the text. Very few units in the stratigraphic column are
correlatable over the whole area. Those correlations that are generally accepted involve,
in the main, limestones. Between these marker bands, however, great changes in
thickness, lithology and numbers of cycles takes place. Even within one state variations
are such that cyclothems are not considered useful as units of stratigraphical correla-
tion (KOSANKE et al., 1960; WANLESS, 1962). Theories of origin therefore must take
these factors into account. I t seems quite unrealistic to try to explain the occurrence of
numerous cyclothems, stretching over vast areas, each with a certain number of units,
constant and always in order, as if such idealised cycles existed. They demonstrably do
not. Theories to explain such an imaginary situation usually result in the authors try-
ing to explain difficulties of their own making! Cyclic sedimentation in the coal-
bearing rocks of the Pennsylvanian does exist but, from the evidence wehave review-
ed, in a very much more modified form than that generally believed.
DOTY and HUBERT (1962, p. 10) put the situation most clearly. The principle of
the cyclic concept of sedimentation in the Pennsylvanian coal measures may be
generally applicable as stated by many authors. I t may be more realistic, however,
since ideal cyclothems are seldom encountered, to think in terms of specific environ-
ments of varying lateral extent that migrate across any given locality repeatedly but in
poorly ordered sequence. Before considering theories of origin, however, various
environmental and sedimentological aspects must be discussed.
Outside of the Appalachian Basin it is generally assumed, with Pennsylvanian
cycles, that the beds above the coal are marine while those below are non-marine, as a
glance at many of the foregoing figures illustrates. WELLER (1957) gave a very compre-
hensive summary of much of the evidence for these views. But KOSANKE et al. (1960,
p.16), expressed a note of caution: It is widely accepted that the sandstone-underclay
coal sequence in each cyclothem is non-marine whereas the shale-limestone sequence
above the coal is marine. However, most of the exceptions noted above indicate a
trend toward accepting as marine some of the beds supposed to be non-marine and it is
not impossible that more of the sequence is marine or brackish-water than is now
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THeORIES OF ORIGIN 107
accepted. The fresh-water origin of the coals limits the trend in that direction.
WILSON and STEARNS (1960) held similar views regarding the Tennessee cycles.
SIEVER (1957) drew attention to the difficulty of assigning a marine or non-
marine origin to the sandstones and POTTER (1963) postulated that the sheet sandstones
(see later) were laid down during a marine regressive stage. SWANN (1963, p.26),
writing on Mississippian rocks, also considered that the sandstones (similar to those
in the Pennsylvanian) might be marine.
WELLER (1957, p.329) supposed Pennsylvanian rocks to be aqueous deposits
laid down under a variety of piedmont, valley-flat, lake, marsh, delta, lagoon and
shallow marine environments. He emphasised that conditions changed from place to
place and therefore gradations were possible both vertically and laterally. POTTER and
GLASS (1959, after detailed petrological studies in southern Illinois, visualised the
environment to be a coupled low-lying coastal plain and marginal shallow shelf. With
oscillations of the strand line near-shore marine, littoral, tidal-flat and non-marine
sediments would all occur. They adduced a wealth of data on sedimentary structures
and petrography to support their views. WANLESS et al. (1963), in a detailed regional
study of three cyclothems throughout the Mid-Continent, concluded that the clastic
sediments were mainly pro-delta shales and deltaic sandstones and shales. The upper
limestones and some of the shales were taken to be marine. R. C. Moores interpreta-
tion of the environment in Kansas (Fig.42) was, however, somewhat different, as like
Weller he considered the basal sandstones to be continental deposits. BEERBOWER
(1961), in discussing the non-marine Dunkard Group of the Appalachians, made
detailed comparisons with the Mississippi Delta, as indeed did POTTER (1963), when
considering Mississippian and Pennsylvanian sedimentation in Illinois in general.
Sandstones are theoretically perhaps the most important rocks in the sequence
as conflicting theories on the origin of cyclothems depend on the interpretation of
their origin. As has been mentioned, WELLER (1930) decided that the base of the sand-
stone should be the starting point of the cyclothem (Fig.40). He noted that there was
frequent erosion of the beds below and that the sandstones often occurred in channels
cutting down a fair way into these beds. The sandstone therefore marked the base of an
unconformity (or disconformity as it was later called) anduplift and erosion supposedly
occurred before the deposition of each sandstone. Late Palaeozoic cyclothems were
developed by repeated oscillations, each consisting of a long gradual subsidence
followed by a short sharp uplift, both centering in the area from which the sediments
were derived.. . (WELLER, 1956, p.17). This is the essence of the diastrophic-control
theory.
The crucial part of the theory is the identification of the disconformity and its
selection as the most important recurring event in the sequence of deposition. I n
choosing the base of the sandstone Weller differed from his predecessor, UDDEN
(1912), and from many workers dealing with similar deposits in western Europe. The
latter have generally chosen the cessation of coal-forming conditions as the most
significant point to end the cycle of sedimentation. WELLER (1956) vigorously defended
his theory but admitted that (p.30) The selection of this boundary is a matter of
108
TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
opinion and choice is dependent on evaluation of various practical and theoretical
considerations which are differently emphasised by different persons. He believed in
the disconformity and (p.29) with this beginning, the cycle of deposition is brought
into close connection with the cycle of erosion with which it is believed to be related.
What then is the evidence for a disconformity at the base of a sandstone and if
there is one how significant is it in the development of a cyclic succession?
POTTER (1963) classified Mississippian and Pennsylvanian sandstones in Illinois
into two types; thin, relatively widespread, sheet sand bodies and thick lenticular,
sometimes discontinuous, elongate sand bodies. Sheet sandstones can be lateral
equivalents or lie above elongate sand bodies. The elongate bodies have four distinct
distribution patterns: pods, ribbons, dendroids or belts. While the lower contact of
the sheet sandstones is generally transitional (i.e., there is no evidence of a disconform-
ity) the elongate bodies commonly have a non-transitional, unconformable basal
contact. Many of the elongate bodies occur in channels, cut down into the underlying
sediments and have been called channel sandstones to distinguish them from the
sheet sandstones. They have been the subject of much study (e.g., MUDGE,
1956; RUSNAK, 1957; SIEVER, 1957; WANLESS, 1957; HOPKINS, 1958; POTTER and
GLASS, 1958; FRIEDMAN, 1960; ANDRESEN, 1961; DOTY and HUBERT, 1962; POTTER,
1963), and differing views have been expressed concerning their mode of origin. Most
writers have favoured a subaerial origin of the erosional channels with later infilling
by stream aggradation. This latter was brought about by a change in base level due to
advance of the sea into the area. Opinions have varied as to whether the infilling of the
channel was alluvial, part alluvial-part marine, or almost exclusively marine. SIEVER
(1957) pointed out the difficulties in assigning a marine or non-marine origin to
Pennsylvanian sandstones in general and inferred that deposition took place in a
combination of a variety of shallow-water marine, deltaic and coastal plain environ-
ments. He also said that while most of the channel sandstones of western Illinois
showed clearly, from the sharp abrupt bases and borders, that they had been deposited
in erosional channels, many in southern Illinois showed sedirnentational rather than
erosional facies changes. RUSNAK (1957), in his study of the Pleasantview Sandstone
in western Illinois, considered the channel to have been cut by tidal current action and
later to have been filled with sediments through the action of both coastal and tidal
currents. He compared the environment with that of the Dutch Wadden Sea where
broad tidal flats are scoured by channels of tidal origin which are being filled with sand
swept in from tidal flats and the North Sea.
That channels can be cut and filled under water is also known from the work of
FISK (1955) who showed that as a delta builds outwards distributaries scour channels
into underlying sands and subsequently these channels are filled with sand. In the
Pennsylvanian, scouring by delta distributaries has been considered sufficient to
account for most sandstone channels even when these cut down into underlying shales,
etc., to depths of 100 ft. (WANLESS et al., 1963, Such a hypothesis diminishes the
necessity for a series of tectonic uplifts . . . p.447). KOSANKE et al. (1960) commented
on the uncertain origin of the channels and emphasised that the frequency of channel-
THEORIES OF ORIGIN 109
ing is relatively low. The physical evidence for an unconformity is present in less than
20 % of the area for any one cyclothem in Tllinois and no unconformities are known for
some.
BEERBOWER (1961) also considered channel sandstones of Dunkard age in
Pennsylvanian and adjoining states to be of distributary origin. After reviewing much
of the literature he thought that the case for a subaerial origin for the channel sand-
stones of the Illinois Basin had not been proved. He emphasised the contemporaneity
of channel cutting and inter-channel deposition in many cyclothems.
SWANN (1964) was adamant that the importance of discordant surfaces beneath
sandstones in both the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian had been exaggerated. He
pointed out, in his study of Mississippian rocks, that continuous deposition of con-
formable shallow-water limestone at the same time as channeling took place elsewhere
made any theory of regional uplift untenable (see, however, p.115). Postulating an
unconformity at the base of the sandstone meant that the products of a single pulse
of clastic deposition are unnaturally split between two adjacent units. Pro-delta shale
is assigned to one cyclic unit, whereas the deltaic sand from which it was winnowed is
placed in the overlying younger one. (SWANN, 1964, p.652).
Since the evidence for the disconformity at the base of each sandstone is there-
fore equivocal so must be the claim that the disconformity marks the beginning of a
non-marine phase following on a marine period. On theoretical grounds its choice as
the beginning of a cyclothem can therefore be criticised. There are also serious practical
objections. Sandstones are the least laterally persistent of the common rock types
present in a cyclothem (Fig.49). Attempted recognition of cyclothems in successions
where sandstones are missing can introduce an undesirable element of subjectivity into
the study, not to mention considerable difficulty. SIEVER (1957) and various Geological
.Surveys have commented on this latter aspect. In Illinois, cyclothems, as recognised
using the sandstone base, proved impossible to use as rock-stratigraphic units (KOSANKE
et al., 1960). Similar difficulty was encountered in Ohio where STURGEON et al. (1958)
showed how the coal seam was the most logical place to complete a cyclothem but
because of nomenclature difficulties retained the sandstone as the marker (surely a
case of the tail wagging the dog!).
I n Kansas How (1956) used the coal seam to delimit the cyclothems. R. C.
MOORE (1959, p.51) wrote: ( I ) Practical utility, accompanied by precision in ability
to place boundaries in the field (coal horizons being identifiable where coal beds are
absent) favours the top of coal boundary; (2) the ending of coal swamp sedimentation
(or lacking coal, termination of non-marine conditions) and change to marine environ-
ments furnish the most nearly universal punctuation point in cyclic successions in
all regions.
On evaluation of various practical and theoretical considerations (WELLER,
1956, p.30) it is clearly possible to disagree with the choice of sandstone as the first
unit of the cyclothem.
Theories of origin of Pennsylvanian cyclothems in America have fallen into two
main groups-those that favour a tectonic mechanism involving intermittent move-
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THEORIES OF ORIGIN 111
ment of the earths crust and those that produce the necessary sea-level changes mainly
by climatic means.
In the first group we find intermittent subsidence of the depositional area being
invoked to account for the cycles (UDDEN, 1912; STOUT, 1931). Stout, writing on
Ohio, thought that coal formation represented a period of virtual standstill. Rapid
submergence brought the period of accumulation of vegetable material to a close.
Filling up of the area with sediments continued until plant life could re-establish itself,
then, after a period of extremely slow subsidence, the cycle commenced anew.
I t was considered that the weight of accumulating sediments played a part in
producing the subsidence. Many European geologists have put forward a similar
theory to account for Carboniferous cycles and a full discussion is given in Chapter 5.
The diastrophic-control theory (WELLER, 1930, 1931, 1956) also falls into this
group. This theory, to recapitulate, seeks to explain an idealised cyclothem (Fig.40)
which, in considerably modified forms (Fig.41), recurs throughout the Pennsylvanian
succession in Illinois. The base of the cyclothem is taken as the disconformity thought
to be present at the base of each sandstone. The implication is that the beds above the
disconformity are non-marine while the beds above the coal, the top of which separates
the lower from the upper hemicyclothem, are marine. Marine conditions were
brought to a close by uplift of both depositional and source areas. The change to non-
marine (? continental) conditions is marked by the presence of the disconformity,
which heralds in another cycle of deposition thought to be closely related to the cycle
of erosion. The periodic episodes of uplift are, of course, superimposed on the overall
subsidence of the depositional area.
Doubt has already been expressed about the evidence for uplift provided by the
sandstones. The occurrence of coal seams only a few feet above marine limestones, in
some cyclothems, has also been taken to indicate that uplift must have occurred.
Assuming that neither withdrawal (and consequent shallowing) of the sea nor uplift
of the sea bed took place, then the depth of limestone deposition must be the uncom-
pacted thickness of sediments between the limestone and the overlying coal. Figures
calculated on this assumption are much smaller than the depths of deposition of the
limestones estimated by some paleontologists, e.g., during the accumulation of
certain Kansan Permian Limestones depths of 160-1 80 ft. were envisaged (ELIAS,
1937, 1964). Other work has shown, however, that many such limestones may have
formed in waters considerably shallower, as discussed in Chapter 10 (LAPORTE, 1962;
MCCRONE, 1964). IMBRIE et al. (1964), after studying various facies of the Lower
Permian Beattie Limestone in Kansas, went so far as to state that little more than a
fathom of water was required for the fusulinid-bearing beds (still considered the
deepest facies by ELIAS, 1964 - see also discussion, p.235).
Thereis muchevidence that areal differences in the number of cyclothems making
up a specific part of the succession are frequently due to the splitting of cyclothems
(GRAY 1961; KAY and COLBERT, 1965; WANLESS, 1964). Once splittingis conceded then
it must be accepted that either adjacent portions of the earths crust are moving up-
wards and downwards at differing rates or that one portion is subsiding separately
112 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
and cyclothems in that area are being produced without uplift being involved. The first
alternative implies most complicated movements of the earths crust. The second is
perhaps not quite so difficult to accept as feasible. But it poses the question that if
some cyclothems can be produced without uplift why not all?
Objections were raised to the diastrophic-control theory from its inception and
alternative hypotheses involving climatic control, both direct and indirect, have been
put forward. WANLESS and SHEPARD (1936) introduced a theory of indirect climatic
control involving repeated glaciations in Gondwanaland. They emphasised areal
variations in Pennsylvanian sedimentation. Some areas were predominantly marine,
some mixed continental-marine and others predominantly continental. This depended
on the proximity of the depositional area to the land-mass supplying the sediments.
Despite facies variation, however, a general picture emerged. More or less continuous
subsidence, with sea level changing somewhat rhythmically in response to the waxing
and waning of continental ice sheets, was postulated in the glacial-control theory.
Evidence of glaciation during the Carboniferous period was cited from South America,
Africa, India and Australia. With the onset of a glacial epoch sea level was lowered,
upland vegetation became scarcer and the rate of erosion increased. Fans and deItas
grew outwards from the upland areas towards the sea with channel cutting quite
common. The conglomeratic beds of the piedmont areas passed into sandstones and
sandy shales on the seaward margin of the deltaic areas.
A slight increase of humidity associated with the beginning of glacial melting
increased vegetation growth so that the rates of erosion and deposition decreased. As a
consequence the sediments became finer grained and these were spread over the delta
along with, probably, wind-blown loess. Weathering and soil-forming processes altered
the fine material (which later became underclay). The continued rise of temperature
and the beginning of melting of the ice sheets increased the humidity thus encouraging
the growth of vast forests which spread across the mud-flats. Peat accumulated and
swamps developed. Continued melting of the ice caused sea level to rise, drowning
the swamps and covering them with mud, the only material then being washed down
from the plant-covered uplands. As the sea deepened over the area more and more mud
was deposited in the embayed valleys of the drowning hinterland. Further out to sea
conditions were suitable for limestone formation. Lowering of the sea level at the
onset of the next glacial epoch rejuvenated the rivers in the landward areas which
first spread mud and then coarser material over the limestone and so the cycle
commenced again. With this mechanism it was possible to explain the different facies
found in, say, Kansas, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
WELLER (1956) criticised the theory on, among other, grounds that Late Paleozoic
glaciations did not correspond in time to the periods of cyclical deposition (Mississip-
pian-Permian), and that there was no evidence for the large number of glacial and
interglacial periods required to account for the number of cyclothems known. Further,
he doubted if there was evidence for extensive upland Carboniferous floras existing
during interglacial stages and thus inhibiting run-off, erosion and sedimentation.
While it was thought at one time that glaciations in Gondwanaland were con-
THEORIES OF ORIGIN 113
fined to Upper Carboniferous-Permian times, recent work (see, for example, GRIND-
LEY, 1963) shows that tillites are also found as far down as the Lower Carboniferous.
The number of glaciations required in the glacial-control theory is a more serious
problem but WANLESS (1960) considered that in Australia there is evidence for many
more glaciations than was previously thought. J ust how many glaciations would be
required is a difficult question to answer, ofcourse, as the number of cyclothems present
in the Pennsylvanian differs considerably, according to various authors, as wehave
seen. Splitting of cyclothems also poses a problem in this respect and WANLESS
(1964) has emphasised the importance of separating the regional from the local in areal
cyclothem studies, while pointing out the difficulties in attempting this.
WHEELER and MURRAY (1957) carefully analysed both the diastrophic-control
and the glacial-control theories. They considered that in each Pennsylvanian cyclothem
there is evidence for two transgressions and two regressions of the sea. These were
accounted for by correlation with the four phases of SIMPSONS (1940) solar radiation
glacial cycle. The required extra oscillations of sea level made the diastrophic-control
theory completely untenable and rendered the glacial-control theory in need of con-
siderable modification. The modified theory, however, is not one which commends
itself at first sight. Firstly, Simpsons theory is itself controversial and by no means
accepted by all meteorologists. Secondly, some of the geological arguments can be
criticised. That each cyclothem commences with a sandstone, beneath which is a dis-
conformity, is accepted by Wheeler and Murray as fact. No correlations are given, yet
wefind the statement (p.1992) in the comparison of Kansas with Illinois, it is general-
ly agreed and only logical that the disconformity represents the same episode of sharp
base-level lowering in both regions . . .. Which disconformity is being considered is
not mentioned, nor the fact that disconformities are usually absent.
The difficulties of equating the type of cyclic sequences in Kansas and Illinois
(see p.95) similarly receive no consideration. It is difficult to accept the theory, on the
evidence produced, as other than a provocative exercise in geological speculation
rather than as an hypothesis to explain observed facts.
Theories involving direct climatic control have been advocated by SWANN (1964)
and BEERBOWER (1 961). Swanns work concerned mainly Chesterian (Upper Mississip-
pian) rocks in I!linois, a sequence differing from the Pennsylvanian in that it contains a
much higher proportion of limestone (25 %) as compared to 4 % for the Pennsylvanian
as a whole.
No attempt was made to define a Chesterian cyclothem in terms of individual
members but Swam emphasised that the succession consists of alternations of lime-
stones and clastic units. The subsiding Illinois Basin was thought to have been repeated-
ly filled by either locally precipitated limestone or clastics carried from eastern Canada
by the Michigan River System. A marine period, during which limestone accumu-
lated, was brought to a close with the change to a drier climate. In the source area the
consequent thinning of the cover of vegetation resulted in increased erosion and sedi-
ment yield. The Michigan River spread clastics for hundreds of miles over the lime-
stone in the form of a huge delta which frequently developed an upper surface near
114 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
water level capable of supporting plants (thin coals occur in the upper parts of most
clastic units). lncreased humidity followed and plant growth flourished in both source
and depositional areas. As a result, in the former erosion and in the latter clastic
deposition slowed down. Basin-sinking then proved too fast both for the plant growth
in the sea level swamps and clastic deposition in other parts of the delta. The sea
therefore encroached and limestone was deposited. Return to a drier climate started
the cycle all over again.
Swann recognised twelve to fifteen major cycles of advance and retreat of the
shoreline. He considered that sea level remained relatively static and that variations
in rainfall controlled the sequence of events. The diastrophic-control theory was
rejected on the grounds that the importance of discordant surfaces beneath sandstones
had been exaggerated, that channels when present were sub-aquatic, and that in any
case continuous deposition of limestones on the nearby Cincinnati arch, while cycles
wers being formed in Illinois, ruled out regional uplift. The non-rhythmic nature of
those limestones also prevented acceptance of regional tectonic or worldwide eustatic
changes in sea level as a possible cause of most of the cycles. Sea-level changes were
conceded in the highest Mississippian Beds and in the Pennsylvanian. The non-
marine nature of the Permian Dunkard Group cycles (see later), supposedly of similar
origin to Pennsylvanian cycles, together with the evidence from most of the higher
Mississippian Beds, indicated that the primary cause of cyclic sedimentation was not
to be sought in changes of sea level.
Interruptions in the supply of sediments to an area, so that periodically carbon-
ate deposition may proceed unhindered, have been explained by postulating changes
in the drainage patterns of deltas (e.g., D. MOORE, 1958; GOODLET, 1959). I n the present
case, however, enough is known of Mississippian palaeogeography to make it extremely
difficult to find a site to which clastics were diverted (SWANN, 1964, p.655). I t has been
suggested that the Ontario River, source of the lower Mississippian Berea Sand-
stone of the Appalachian basin, for a time joined the Michigan River System, during
which period the Michigan Berea was deposited (PEPPER et al., 1954). Swann accept-
ed that such switching might happen once or twice but doubted if such a process
could regularly operate throughout Mississippian-Pennsylvanian times. It would
imply, for instance, that clastic and carbonate deposition in the Illinois and Appalachian
Basins were out of phase. Most correlations suggested that this was not so. It seemed
therefore that only climatic fluctuations were left to explain the intermittent supply of
sediments to the Illinois Basin.
Swanns case is well-argued and the theory an attractive one. But there are
several points which require further discussion. It is stated that in the succession under
discussion some seventy reversals took place in the direction of shoreline movement.
Not all can be claimed to be due to climatic changes. The case for climatic changes
hinges on the proof that periodically no clastics entered the Illinois Basin. Widespread
limestone beds, correlatable throughout the area, provide the evidence. All limestones,
however, are not basin-wide. Further, shifting of the Michigan River System, through-
out the depositional period under review, seems well established (SWANN, 1964, fig.2).
THEORIES OF ORIGIN 115
It appears therefore that only certain cycles can be claimed to provide evidence of
climatic changes. The majority might be explained in terms of delta-switching.
Twelve to fifteen major cycles are mentioned by Swann though it is not brought out
in the text which these are and It is difficult to define major cycle precisely, because
cycles that appear important in one region seem insignificant or can not be recognised
elsewhere (SWANN, 1964, p.639).
The case against changes in sea level rests mainly on the assumption that there
is no evidence of this in the successions of contemporaneous limestones formed in
different environments nearby. But have these limestones been examined with, for
example, cyclicity or the presence of non-sequences in mind, and by modern statistical
methods? (p. 15). The argument that cyclic sedimentation occurs in non-marine succes-
sions, such as the Dunkard Group, and therefore sea-level changes are ruled out, is
relevant only if the similarity of Dunkard to Mississippian cycles is accepted and a
common origin for both assumed.
Finally, while accepting the relationships between precipitation, run-off and
sediment yield established by LANGBEIN and SCHUMM (1958), it must be remembered
that during Mississippian times many unknowns, such as temperature and precipita-
tion, and differences in these in both source and depositional areas complicate the
simple analogy used.
Dunkard Group cycles in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio (see p.101) were
discussed at some length by BEERBOWER (1961). Meput forward a unit-by-unit correla-
tion of two dissimilar (to us) idealised cyclothems (Illinois type and Dunkard type)
which stretched credulity to the limits. A common origin was postulated for both and
indeed for Carboniferous cycles the world over. Synchroneity of cycles was assumed.
The necessary world-wide cause was considered to be periodic climatic changel.
In summary, cyclic sedimentation took place during Pennsylvanian (and to a
lesser extent Upper Mississippian and Lower Permian) times in America. Sedimen-
tation involved in the main alternations of clastic and con-clastic material, the latter
coals and limestones. The limestones were in the main marine, the coals non-marine.
Some of the shales were marine but the bulk of the sandstones and shales were laid
down in conditions which we are still not sure about. In the Mid-Continent conditions
were predominantly marine, in the Appalachians apparently predominantly non-
marine. The order in which the beds occur is not as regular as one might be led to
expect from the literature. Correlation from basin to basin is not refined enough for
most individual cycles to be traced within a basin and certainly not from basin to
basin. Certain limestone horizons, certain marine shale horizons and probably certain
coal horizons are exceptional. Their deposition might represent periods when events
took place on the continent-wide scale-the limestones and shales might even represent
periods when there was a world-wide rise in sea level. The bulk of the cycles seems,
These (1961) views have been drastically altered (BEERBOWER, 1964).
116 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN NORTH AMERICA
however, to be explicable by more localised events such as the continually changing
pattern of sedimentation at the junction of the sea with a broad deltaic or alluvial
coastal plain, though still on a large enough scale to make modern analogies difficult
to find. Further discussion takes place after the review of European cyclic deposits
in Chapter 5.
Chapter 5
TRANSITIONAL REGIMES, II-EUROPE
GREAT BRITAIN
The Carboniferous rocks of Great Britain display a great diversity of cycles consisting
of alternations of marine and non-marine strata. This diversity is a reflection of the
complicated palaeogeography. In very general terms the Lower Carboniferous rocks
of Britain indicate marine conditions in the south and what are taken to be deltaic
conditions in the north. Periodically the northern areas were inundated by the sea.
Complications due to the presence of various land-masses, occasional isolation of
portions of the depositional area and areal tectonic differences considerably altered
this broad picture from time to time (e.g., see WILLS, 1951, and GEORGE, 1958).
Throughout the Upper Carboniferous deltaic conditions gradually spread and by
Coal Measures times Britain was mainly an area of non-marine deposition, though still
subject to occasional incursions of the sea.
Visean, Tournaisian and Namurian
Because of the complexities of deposition in I ffering environments stratigraphic
classification of the Carboniferous rocks in Britain has raised many problems. Fig.50
shows the currently accepted correlation and is useful in indicating the facies changes
from south to north in Visean and Tournaisian times.
As stated in Chapter 1 it was in the north of England and in southern Scotland
that cyclic deposition was first recognised in Britain. PHILLIPS (1836), MILLER (1887)
and HIND (1902) were all impressed with successions showing a cycle which is basically
limestone-shale-sandstone-coal. HUDSON (1924, 1933), BROUGH (1928), DUNHAM
(1950), D. MOORE (1958, 1959, 1960), JOHNSON (1959, 1960, 1961), WESTOLL (1962),
JOHNSON and DUNHAM (1963) have all discussed at length the problems of this Yore-
dale rhythm. Recognised first in the type area of Wensleydale, Yorkshire, it was later
realised that cycles of this type occurred throughout the Upper Visean and Lower
Namurian in the north of England and in Scotland. A map showing the distribution
of rocks of this age in northern England is given in Fig.51 while Table XX illustrates
what at various times have been described as ideal, fully developed, standard,
etc., cycles of Yoredale type.
HUDSON (1924) interpreted the type section of the Yoredale Series of Wensley-
dale, Yorkshire, as indicating periodic elevation of the source area. Limestone was de-
118 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES I N EUROPE
d CInrifiotio
XOTLAHD ENGLAND
I
LIQDESDALE N.E. CURBERUND NORTHUffBERLAND
1
RIDLAND VALLEY
Mew ClarrificatioP
1
PASSAGE GROUP
I
I
I
I
UPPER UPPER
LIMESTONE LIMESTONE
GROUP GROUP
Catsbit Lrt.
Z
6
-
LIMESTONE
u
f
i rl ct Lst .
u Penton
GROUP
l i I
CEMENTSTONE GROUP
I
I I
MI D'DLE
LIMESTONE
GRBUP I
ni ddy or ' Oxf or d Lrt .
mkhousrs/
mestone 1
I
' Dun Li mestone
awor t h '
mestonc I
GROUP ' COAL GROUP
RAlGHlLL
\NDSTONEI
GROUP I
BIRD-
l ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ E L EMERSTON
r--------
ELL SA ND~ ONE CROUP
7- - - - - - - -
:EMENTSTONE GROUP
I
----_
I
I
1
I
1
I
I
I
c"
2
ZI
0
Fig.50. Classification of Carboniferous rocks in England and Scotland. (After E. H. FRANCIS, 1965.)
GREAT BRITAIN 119
Fig.51. Carboniferous rocks in northern England. Rocks of Yoredale facies occur in areas designated
Millstone Grit and Lower Carboniferous. (After JOHNSON, 1960.)
posited during a period of minimum source erosion; uplift of the land resulted in
first mud and then sand being brought into the area of deposition. Coal swamps
flourished when the water was shallow enough, perhaps due to slight uplift in the
depositional area. With planation of the land surface little sediment reached the area of
deposition and limestone formed. He envisaged therefore fairly constant subsidence,
though with perhaps occasional uplifts, the main reason for the cyclicity of the sedi-
ments being the continued rejuvenation of the land surface.
BROUGH (1928), after a study of rocks of similar facies on the Northumberland
coast, discussed various possible ways of producing a cycle of Yoredale type. Obviously
the area of deposition was subsiding. If the downward movement was jerky so that
from time to time relatively rapid depression took place then one would expect
120 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
TABLE XX
YOREDALE-TYPE CYCLES
-
West Northumberland
ideal
(JOHNSON, 1959)
North Northumberland
rhythmic unit
(BROUGH, 1928)
(10) A thin-bedded rhythmic sequence sometimes incomplete, or
repeated several times as minor rhythms:
coal
Ganister or seatearth
Sandstone and flags
Shale
Limestone or marine shale
(9) Sandstone
(8) Sandstone, thin-bedded flags, shale; and grey beds
(interbedded shales, siltstones and sandstones)
(7) Shale, relatively unfossiliferous, ferruginous
(6) Shale, dark coloured, pyritic
(5) Shale, fossiliferous, calcareous
(4) Limestone, dark bluegrey, fragmental, with interbedded marl
bands and partings
(3) Limestone, light grey, bioclastic, with many calcareous algae
(2) Limestone, dark blue-grey, muddy
(1) Shale, marine and shale, sandy
Coal
Fireclay
Sandstone
. Sandstone, shaly
Shale, micaceous
Shale, fine dark
Limestone
1 Probably only local significance (DUNHAM, 1950).
a I n 1924 HUDSON placed limestone at the end of cycle, in 1933 at the beginning.
successive deposits of sediment to be different. If on the other hand subsidence was
slow and steady then he considered that some outside factor must be sought to account
for the varying nature of the successive layers of rock. He postulated two more possi-
bilities. Either there could be recurrent sharp uplifts of the land mass supplying the
sediments or there could be continuing periodic changes in climate from humid
conditions to arid. During the arid periods limestone would be deposited while with
humid conditions detrital material would be brought into the depositional area to
form sandstones and shales and coal swamps could flourish. On balance, in the light
of the evidence then available, he thought the Yoredale rhythm was best considered
GREAT BRITAIN 121
Yorkshire Yorkshire Northern Pennines
rhythmic succession Lfuly developed standard
(HUDSON, 1924, 1933) (D. MOORE, 1959, 1960) (DUNHAM, 1950)
Sandstone or coaly shale
Coal
Fireclay or ganister
Sandstone
Shale and sandstone, interbedded
Shale, non-fossiliferous,
ferruginous
Shale, fossiliferous, calcareous
(limestone conglomeratel,
surface below eroded and
pot-holed)
Limestone, algal phase or chert
beds
Shale, subsidiary, with modified
limestone fauna
Limestone, coral-brachiopod or
brachiopod fauna
Limestone, coral phase
(8) Shale, upper
(7) Coal (7) Coal
(6) Seatearth (6) Ganister or underclay
( 5) Sandstone, massive ( 5) Sandstone
(4) Sandstone, flaggy
sometimes cross-bedded
(4) Shale, sandy, shaly sand-
stone or grey beds
(interbedded shales,
siltstones and sandstones)
(3) Siltstone (3) Shale, unfossiliferous,
ferruginous (?non-marine)
(2) Shale (2) Shale, marine
(1) Limestone (1) Limestone, marine
(Major cyclothems such as
above may contain in upper
part up to 6 minor cyclothems
of limestone-shale-sand-
stone type)
as being due to uneven earth movements affecting both the areas of supply and de-
position.
D. MOORE (1958, 1959, 1960) re-studied the type area of the Yoredale rocks.
While recognising eight major (si c) cyclothems, each typified by the occurrence of a
prominent limestone at the base (Table XX), he pointed out that the upper part of
some of the major cyclothems may contain minor cyclothems. Some confusion is
apparent in the precise delimiting of these minor cyclothems. I n 1958 (p.94) weread:
. . . the major rhythms from thick limestone to thick limestone often include minor
rhythms with all the characters of the typical rhythmic unit except the persistence of
122 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
the limestone. In 1959 (p.523): . . . minor cyclotherns, which may be developed
only in restricted parts of the outcrop area are invariably simple; they comprise a
limestone at the base overlain by shale, which is in turn followed by sandstone while
in 1960 (p.218): Each cyclothern, major or minor, comprises the following eight
members. . . None of the members is wholly persistent. JOHNSON (1959) also pointed
out (TableXX) the presence of minor rhythmsin the top part of his ideal cyclothem.
I n both cases it is apparent that the significant feature of a major cyclothem is taken
to be the presence of a relatively thick, laterally persistent, limestone. This view was
challenged by SHIELLS (1963), who maintained that the study of cyclic sedimentation
is primarily the investigation of a sequence of environmental changes. That being so
the length of time a new environment persists and whether it is widespread or not is
irrelevant. This point (perhaps representing the extreme of the phase approach,
Chapter 1) is an extremely important one in discussing mechanisms of formation and
will be returned to later. DUNHAM (1950) proposed a standard cyclothem for the
Yoredales (Table XX) though he emphasised that various members may be missing.
Interesting data were given on the thickness of various cyclothems, averages varying
from 26 to 95 ft. The most variable members of the cyclothem are the sandstones while
limestones tend to keep a much more constant thickness.
JOHNSON (1960, 1961) amplified the remarks of Dunham on lateral variation
within the beds of Yoredale age in northern England. He accepted the standard cyclo-
them of Dunham but pointed out that differences occurred as the succession was
traced north from the Askrigg Block to the Northumberland Trough (Fig.52, 53).
J ohnson visualised marine conditions in the south and deltaic conditions in the north,
the change in environment being marked by: ( I ) marine limestones in the south, which
thinned northwards until ultimately the only evidence of marine conditions was the
presence of thin marine shales; and (2) an increase in the thickness of shale and sand-
stone members and the number of cyclothems northwards.
Most authors on the subject of Yoredale facies rocks seem to be in agreement
as to the environment of deposition. Palaeontological evidence indicates the marine
nature of the limestones and some shales, while their shallow-water origin was
convincingly demonstrated by D. MOORE (1958) and JOHNSON (1960) in particular.
Shales lacking marine fossils and the sandstones have many of the characteristics of
deltaic sediments (D. MOORE, 1958,1959, 1960) and there is a close comparison between
Yoredale facies and sediments of the Mississippi delta (Table XXI).
All authors agree on the variability of Yoredale cycles from their idealised cycles
though the persistence of the major limestone horizons is usually emphasised. Opinions
on mechanism of formation are still divided.
DUNHAM (1950) favoured a theory of intermittent subsidence. Isostatic adjust-
ment of the crust due to the ever increasing weight of sediments perhaps played a part.
JOHNSON (1960) favoured a similar type of origin. He envisaged the cycle commencing
with a sudden marine transgression and shallow shelf-sea conditions, suitable for
limestone deposition, continuing for a comparatively long period of time. There
GREAT BRITAIN 123
Fat
-100
-200
-300
-400
ASKRIGG ALSTON SOUTH SlOE NORTH
BLOCK BLOCK NORTHUMBERLANO
TROUGH NORTHUMBERLAND
SANDBANKS LST:
ACRE LS7:
WATCHL A W LS%
WOODEND LS%
BANKHOUSES LST
Fig.52. Succession of Yoredale-facies limestones and their correlation at points labelled in Fig.51.
(After JOHNSON, 1960.)
124 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
Stage 3
(Late p2 - E,
times]
S
CD2-
Iage 2
Dj times]
Stage 1
[ D, t imesl
Horizontal scale Vertical scale
.in miles. i n f eet
01 10 50 0, 400 890 -
Fig.53. Cross-sections of Yoredale-facies rocks showing development of areal differences during DI-
El times. Localities are as in Fig.51. Marine limestones are shaded and horizons numbered as in
Fig.52. (After JOHNSON, 1960.)
followed a short period when terrigenous sediments were laid down and finally,
during another long quiescent period, coal swamps flourished.
D. MOORE (1958,1959,1960) considered that the major cyclothems resulted from
the interaction of a sedimentary couple-a shallow epicontinental sea favourable to
limestone deposition and a large delta comparable to that of the Mississippi. Sub-
sidence, however, was continuous, though irregular. Periodically the delta-forming
river was diverted (by crevassing) and invasion by the sea of the still subsiding area
led to limestone formation. Re-establishment of the delta was marked by the appear-
ance of mud on top of the limestone. As the delta-front approached, the fauna dis-
appeared and an influx of non-calcareous mud, silt and sand took place. The delta
built out distributaries, the troughs between being filled by occasional crevassing or
over-bank flooding. Local depressions on the delta plain became the sites of coal
swamps and these were eventually invaded by the sea due to the continued subsidence.
Major crevassing of the main river of the delta complex and diversion of the clastics
elsewhere would result in a particular delta lobe being covered once more by the sea.
Limestone deposition would then take place over the area until the next period of
diversion into the area of delta distributaries.
126 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
WESTOLL (1962) considered a 100 ft. thick standard model cyclothem and
ingeniously attempted to assess the relative importance in the formation of the Yore-
dale-type cyclothem of compaction, isostasy and tectonic forces. He came to the
conclusion that the maximum isostatic depression due to the weight of his model
cyclothem would be 80 % of its final compacted thickness. Compaction played a part
during the deposition of the sediments, of course, but it appeared that a tectonic
contribution in the shape of additional subsidence to the isostatic subsidence was
required. This Westoll considered to take place rapidly while subsidence due to
compaction and isostatic adjustment proceeded at a constant rate.
During Visean and Tournaisian times in Scotland the situation was rather more
complicated than in the north of England. Reference to Fig.50 indicates how facies
differences necessitate yet another classification of Carboniferous rocks distinct from
those of central and northern England. The varying environmental conditions in
Scotland during this part of the Carboniferous are reflected in the number of so-called
complete, full, etc. cycles described from the various rock groups (Table XXII).
Fig.54 shows the attempt made by E. H. FRANCIS (1965, following ROBERTSON, 1948),
to summarise the differences in diagrammatic form. There is, however, disagreement
between authors over both the order of the rocks in the cycles and where to start the
cycles. Confronted with this rather bewildering array we can only assume that the
differences of opinion reflect the fact that the actual order of the beds in the various
cycles is not at all definite.
In the Cementstone Group (Fig.SO), the Ballagan Beds in Stirlingshire consist of
about 600 ft. of alternating green shales and cementstones with subordinate micaceous
sandstones (MACGREGOR et al., 1925). The cementstones are argillaceous dolomites
and are usually restricted to less than a foot in thickness as are the shale beds between.
Similar rhythmic alternations occur elsewhere in Scotland of about the same age (e.g.,
EYLES et al., 1949). The occasional occurrence of gypsum with cementstones has been
taken to favour the suggestion that the lagoon in which the sediments accumulated
dried out periodically. Between intervals of dessication mud was carried into the
lagoons to form the shales (MACGREGOR, 1929). I t is possible, however, that the separa-
tion of argillaceous and dolomitic material took place during diagenesis like some of
the alternations discussed in Chapter 6.
Another facies of the Cementstone Group, in Ayrshire, consists of cycles starting
with a conglomerate passing up into sandstone, followed by red marl with cornstone
(calcareous) nodules and ending with shales and fine-grained sandstones. This second
type of cycle is best considered as a variant of the fining-upwards cycles described by
J. R. L. ALLEN (1965a) from the Old Red Sandstone and other successions (see Chapter
The Oil-Shale Group cycles also appear to be a special case and are dealt with
later in this chapter. The Lower and Upper Limestone Groups display cycles more or
less of Yoredale-facies type. The Limestone Coal Group is predominantly non-
marine. Limestones are absent, apart from the rare thin fresh-water variety, and coals
2).
TABLE XXII
Carboniferous Carboniferous. Oil-Shale Oil-Shale Oil-Shale Oil-Shale Grouj
Limestone Group, Scotland Group, Lothians Group, Lothians Group, Lothians Midlothian
Midland Valley (GOODLET, 1959) (RICHEY, 1937) (MACGREGOR, (GREENSMITH, (TULLOCH and
(RICHEY, 1937) complete 1938) 1962) WALTON, 1958)
complete generalized jiull, but composite
CYCLES IN s m s ~ CARBONIFEROUS
succession rhythmic unit
(4) Mudstone (10) Shale .
with
sandstone
Partings
(3) Sandstone (9) Oil-shale
(1 4) Seat-clay
(1 3) Oil-shale
(11) Coal (12) Limestone,
(10) Fireclay (1 1) Mudstone
fresh water
(8) Sandstone
(7) Shale, sandy
(9) Shale (10) Shale,
sandy
(8) Shale, sandy (9) Sandstone
(7) Sandstone (8) Shale, (7) Coal
sandy
(6) Shale, sandy
(5) Shale, often bitu-
minous with
(b) estuarine fish
(a) Lingula
(4) Shale, calcareous
with
(b) Lamelli-
(a) Marine
(3) Limestone, marine
(2) Shale, calcareous
branchs
fossils
with
(b) Marine
fossils
(a) Lamelli-
branchs
(1) Shale, often bitu-
minous with
(a) Lingula and
(b) estuarine
fish
(11) Coal
(7) Shale, with
plants
(6) Shalewith
non-marine
fossils
(5) Shalewith
Lingula
(4) Shale,
(3) Limestone,
marine
marine
(2) Shale,
marinb
(1) Coal
(6) Fireclay
(5) Sandstone
(4) Oil-shale
(3) Shale
(2) Shale,
marine
(1) Shale
(7) Coal
(2) Mudstone, (8) Shale
bituminous
I B
(1) Oil-shale (7) Lime- (5) Oil-shale
(5) Shale, (3) Limestone
marine (usually
non-mariot
(2) Ganister
or fire-
clay
(1) Sandstone
~
l l a Notes see p.130.
Lower and Upper
Limestone Groups, Stirling-Clackmannan Stirling-Claclcmannan ScotlandB Scotland
Scotland (south) (north)l (ROBERTSON, 1948) (MACGREGOR, 1929)
(MACGREGOR, 1929) (READ, 1959) (E. H. FRANCIS, 1956) normal rhythmic unit typical lithological
yull sequence fully developed complete sequence
Lower Limestone Group, Limestone Coal Group, Upper Litnestone Group, Coal Measures,
(8) Shale, with (7) Shale
(7) Shale, calcareous, (6) Shale,
Lingula
calcareous
(1 2) Seatearth
(1 1) Shale and sand- stone, inter-
bedded
(10) Sandstone
(7) Shale and sand-
(6) Sandstone (6) Mudstone, limy,
usually shelly
(7) Mudstone
stone, interbedded
(9) Shale and sand-
stone, inter-
bedded
(9) Shale (8) Shale, non-marine (8) Seatearth
(5) Limestone
(4) Shale,
(3) Shale ~
calcareous
(18) Fireclay
(17) Fireclay, sandy
(16) Mudstone, sandy
or silty
(15) Sandstone, silty,
argillaceous
(14) Sandstone, flaggy
(13) Sandstone
(12) Grit or sandstone,
coarse
(1 1) Sandstone, flaggy
(10) Sandstone, silty,
argillaceous
or silty
(8) Mudstone, non-
marine
(9) Mudstone, sandy
(5) Shale and sand- (5) Limestone
stone, inter-
E bedded
(4) Shale, non-marine (4) Mudstone, limy, (6) Shale
(3) Shale with Lingula (3) Mudstone with (5) Shale, non-
usually shelly
marine
(6) Limestone
( 5) Shale, marine
:4) Shale with
Lingula
13) Shale with
plants
2) Coal
1) Sandstone
(2) Shale, (2) Cannel and ( 2) Mudstone, coaly, (4) Shale, black,
carbonaceous ironstone often canneloid plants
(1) Coal (1) Coal (1) Coal (3) Coal
(2) Fireclay
(1) Sandstone
130 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
become prominent. Marine bands (sometimes only containing Lingula) occur and in
fact we have cycles not dissimilar to those of the Coal Measures.
Both ROBERTSON (1948) and GOODLET (1959) favoured deltaic conditions of
sedimentation but with important qualifications.
ROBERTSON (1948, 1952) considered that the vegetation of the coal-swamp played
a far more important part in the formation of cycles than is generally recognised. He
emphasised that the one item all Carboniferous cycles show in common is the periodic
presence of coal-swamp conditions. Plants played an important part in slowing down
incoming currents, thus promoting deposition. I n turn this deposition increased the
area available for colonisation by plants. Eventually, of course, areas of long-
established plant growth would be built up above general water level and thus prevent
deposition of elastic material altogether. Robertson also postulated that sand-bars
probably kept the sea from the coal-swamp areas. During subsidence the bar might be
breached and marine invasion of the swamps would take place.
GOODLET (1959) suggested that the Midland Valley of Scotland was the site of a
delta-flank depression during Mid-Carboniferous times. This depression, he con-
sidered, lay to the north and northwest of the main southwest-flowing channel of a
large delta. The main river channel was situated in the region of the North Sea and the
main delta building took place in the Pennine area of England. Periodically one could
expect some of the channel load to be diverted into the flank depression because of the
continual subsidence of the area. Once sediment built up to a certain level, distribut-
aries would cease to function once more in the depression area. Plants might then
colonise it. Should conditions be not quite suitable for plant growth, fresh-water lakes
could form, where the raw material of oil-shales or fresh-water limestones might
accumulate. Occasionally during the non-clastic period, subsidence might be great
enough to allow for eventual invasion of the area by the sea. Marine limestones could
then form. The large number of cycles present (e.g., 240 in 8,400 ft. of Tournaisian-
Westphalian B sediments in Fife) also indicated to Goodlet that any ofthemore
spectacular theories of origin (e.g., WHEELER and MURRAY, 1957) was unlikely for the
Scottish cycles.
READ (1961), FORSYTH and READ (1962), and READ (1965) made detailed studies
of the Limestone Coal Group. FORSYTH and READ (1962) demonstrated a satisfactory
correlation for some 30 coal-bearing horizons in a succession 500-1,200 ft. thick
between Glasgow and Stirling (30 miles). They were impressed by the lateral persistence
of many individual horizons but noted that in some areas this regularity broke down.
One particular horizon of interest is that of the Bannockburn Main Coal (READ, 1961).
NOTES TABLE XXII
READ (1961) gave same sequence for Stirling but commenced cycle at base of cannel(2). FORSYTH
and READ (1962) gave same sequence for Glasgow-Stirling but commenced cycle at base of sandstone
(6).
a E. H. FRANCIS (1956) gave sequence for this group in Stirling-Clackmannan (north) which apart
from having cannel and ironstone above coal was the same as used by READ (1959) for Lower
Limestone Group.
GREAT BRITAIN 131
This complex is represented by three cycles in the Glasgow area, one coal in the west
of the Stirling Coalfield, fifteen cycles further east and one coal in the extreme east
of the area under consideration. The uniform sedimentation of the Limestone Coal
Group between Glasgow and the western part of the Stirling Coalfield was taken to
indicate that sedimentation was controlled by a single dominant process-an
oscillation of land and sea levels relative to each other (READ, 1961, p.287) resulting
in regular cyclic sedimentation. The aberrant cyclic sedimentation was thought to
be due to differential subsidence of various unstable areas causing variations in thick-
ness and number of cycles which obscured the regular pattern.
Further work (READ, 1965) indicated that fewer cycles may owe their origin to
major oscillations of land and sea levels than was at first thought. A distinctive band
of shales, the Black Metals, up to 180 ft. thick, occurs in the middle of the Limestone
Coal Group east of Stirling. This band is considered part of an unusually thick and
persistent cycle which was deposited following a eustatic rise of sea level. Traced
eastwards, sandstones, seatearths and coals become intercalated, however, and in
some cases apparently are the lateral equivalents of shale. Cycles, in other words, are
developed which are very similar to those typical of the Limestone Coal Group else-
where. Read postulated that these cycles were mainly due to local processes of sub-
sidence and deltaic sedimentation on the fringe of the area affected by the eustatic rise
of sea level. While certain other Limestone Coal Group cycles are thick and laterally
persistent, like the normal Black Metals cycle, most are 10-30 ft. thick and some are
subject to considerable lateral variation. Further, they tend to increase in number in
any one area more or less in proportion to the total subsidence that has taken place
there (see also READ and DEAN, in preparation). These too might owe their origin to
local processes of subsidence and sedimentation.
While the Black Metals cycle in the west consists of shale it is of considerable
interest to note that alternations of marine and non-marine fauna occur. Read
considered that these faunal cycles may reflect the formation of coal-bearing cycles
elsewhere.
As already stated, the Oil-Shale Group cycles seem to be a special case. They
differ from the ones wehave been discussing in that they often contain fresh-water
limestones (Table XXII, Fig.54). They do, however, occasionally contain marine shales.
The surprising dissimilarities between the described cycles from what is, after all, a
TABLE XXIII
COMMON PARTIAL UNITS IN OIL SHALE GROW, SCOTLAND
(After GREENSMITH, 1962)
Shale
Shale Shale Oil-shale
Limestone, with ostracods Oil-shale Limestone, with ostracods
Shale Shale Shale
Sandstone, with seat earths Sandstone, with seat earths Sandstone, with seat earths
132 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
very small area (ca.200 sq. miles) suggest to us that cyclicity is not well developed.
GREENSMITH (1962) erected a composite rhythmic unit (Table XXII) and cited three
common partial units (Table XXIII); even these may be simplified further by
omission of limestone, oil-shale or ganister beds (GREENSMITH, 1962, p.358).
The paucity of coals and marine shales and the frequent evidence of basal
erosion led Greensmith to propose that the base of the sandstones be taken as the
most significant point at which to begin the cycle. This point he considered marked
an influx of fluvial debris. A later phase of lagoonal sedimentation followed. Inter-
mittent subsidencecontinuedthroughout the deposition of the whole sequence of cycles
whose incompleteness made it both difficult and unwise to estimate the number
present. His interpretation of the environment of deposition (GREENSMITH, 1962,
1965)-lagoonal conditions in the flank of a delta, distributaries of which periodically
spread clastics over the dominantly chemical deposits of the lagoons-seems to fit the
facts as brought out by his careful petrological studies. We cannot, however, agree with
the assertion (1962, p.358) that his composite unit bears a superficial resemblance
to the Illinois ideal cyclothem.
Namurian and Westphalian
The Namurian of England is characterised by a cycle differing in important aspects
from those of Yoredale type. The Millstone Grit cycle contains no limestone but
has in its place marine shale. A simple four unit cycle of
Coal,
Sandstone,
Shale,
Marine shale,
was early recognised by H. M. Geological Survey (e.g., WRIGHT et al., 1927; TONKS
et al., 1931) and many such cycles have been subsequently described. As more detailed
studies were made so elaboration of the description of cycles took place. In the Sheffield
area of Yorkshire for instance R. A. EDEN et al. (1957) described a full cyclic unit
as follows:
Thin coal.
Seatearth.
Sandstone, from fine to gravelly grade, and commonly transgressive into the
Mudstone, sandy or silty.
Mudstone, grey with nodules of ironstone.
Marine Band-dark mudstone, commonly with large carbonate nodules
Thin coal.
Thickness of the cycles is very variable and there is evidence that some might
underlying beds.
(bullions): and with a goniatite-lamellibranch fauna.
attain values of the order 10C200 ft.
GREAT BRITAIN 133
Though Coal Measures (Westphalian) sequences were at one time considered in
terms of repetitions of sandstone (or conglomerate) followed by shale and coal
(STRAHAN, 1901; GIBSON, 1905) it is obvious there is an essential similarity in the order
of beds in both Millstone Grit and Coal Measures cycles (e.g., TONKS et al., 1931).
The latter also pointed out that distinctive changes took place when the succession
from the Millstone Grit through the Coal Measures was considered in detail. The
cycles became thinner and more frequent. Marine bands appeared in fewer cycles,
eventually becoming rare, while coals became common.
ROBERTSON (1933) erected an idealised cycle for the Coal Measures in South
Wales:
Fireclay.
Mudstone.
Mudstone, sandy, plants.
Sandstone.
Grit or pebbly sandstone.
Mudstone, sandy, plants.
Mudstone with Carbonicola.
Shale with Anthracomya, Naiadites and fish.
Shale with Estheria and fish.
Shale with Lingula, Orbiculoidea, etc.
Shale, calcareous, pyritic, with goniatites, etc.
Cannel.
Coal.
It is seldom or never that all of these stages can be traced in any one cycle, but
usually their potential occurrence is obvious (ROBERTSON, 1933, p.88).
The importance of the concept of faunal changes illustrated by this cycle was
recognised by EDWARDS and STUBBLEFIELD (1947) who examined the succession in
the East Pennine Coalfield from this and other aspects (see Chapter 10).
TRUEMAN (1946, 1948, 1954), who wrote at length and with much insight on
Coal Measures cycles, considered that the following was, in general, characteristic of
the Coal Measures in both Britain and northwestern Europe:
Coal.
Rootlet bed.
Sandstone.
Shale or mudstone, non-marine.
Marine band.
He pointed out, as indeed have all the writers on Carboniferous cycles, that there
are many exceptions to the characteristic, typical, etc. cycle (see Chapter 1).
Conditions of sedimentation of both Millstone Grit and Coal Measures have
been thought to be deltaic by most workers. Deposition took place very near sea level,
the area of deposition undergoing intermittent subsidence. Periodic incursions of the
sea led to the formation of thin marine shales, often widespread, and therefore extremely
useful in correlation.
134 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
DUFF and WALTON (1962) examined in detail the Coal Measures succession in
the East Pennine Coalfield and devised a method of examining the sequence so that an
objective appraisal of the order of occurrence of the beds separating the coals could
be made (see Chapter 1). A good coverage of the coalfield, both areally and strati-
graphically, was obtained from 41 logs of cored boreholes. Cycle types were identified
depending upon the order of occurrence of the beds separating the coals. The cycle
types were then plotted on a histogram (Fig.2), which shows that the commonest type
of cycle (the modal cycle) is a simple one and consists of a non-marine shale followed
by a seatearth and a coal. Secondary modal cycles, also of non-marine sediments, are
as follows:
Coal. Coal.
Seat earth. Seat earth.
Shale. Shale.
Siltstone. Siltstone and sandstone.
Shale. Shale.
No other cycle types approach these three numerically and in fact a feature of the
histogram is the overwhelmingly large number of combinations of sandstone, siltstone
and shale that occur between coal seams. (In South Durham, CLARKE, 1963, also
showed that variability of the sequence between coal seams is the rule, not the excep-
tion.) Most cycles do not contain marine fossils. Those that do appear to be very
similar, as far as order and type of rock units is concerned, to the non-marine cycles.
There is a tendency for the marine shales to be immediately above the coal, particularly
in the lenisulcata zone (Lower Westphalian A) and the marine shales can be incorporat-
ed into the modal cycle to form the composite sequence for the Coal Measures of the
East Pennine Coalfield:
Coal.
Seat earth.
Shale, non-marine.
Siltstone and sandstone.
Shale, non-marine.
Shale, marine.
Areal study of particular, easily identifiable, cycles showed that each varies
greatly when traced laterally (Fig.55). Stratigraphically, between horizons, there is
also great variation. In the Upper similis-pulchru zone (Lower Westphalian C), for
instance, the number of cycles ranges from 4-21; in the Lower similis-pulchru zone
(Upper Westphalian B) from about 12 to at least 25; in the modiolaris zone (West-
phalian A-B) 13-30. Furthermore every coal in the area exhibited splitting. Duff
and Walton came to the conclusion that the stratigraphical and areal variation and the
great variety of cycle types were best explained by a theory involving channel wander-
ing in a deltaic area as the main factor in the development of the cycles. Three marine
cycles are exceptional, however, in that they are much thicker than any other cycles
and are traceable over most of Britain and northwestern Europe. Eustatic rise of sea
level was thought to be a possible key to their development.
GREAT BRITAIN 135
SHAFTON M.B.
MANSFIELD M.B.
TWO FOOT MB.
TOP HARD COAL
CLAY CROSS M.B
TUPTON COAL
Fig.55. Histograms showing lateral variation in type of specific cycles in the Westphalian Coal
Measures of the East Pennine Coalfield, England (see p.134). I. Occurrence of commoner types of
cycles containing no sandstone. 11. Commoner types containing sandstone. 111. Less common types.
Each rectangle represents a different type. IV. Number of cycles examined. V. Occurrences of different
cycle types. The letter i after the horizon name denotes that the cycle includes that marker; a indicates
that the cycle is above and b that the cycle is below the horizon specified. (After DUFF and WALTON,
1962.)
Recent work in the South Wales Coalfield (WOODLAND and EVANS, 1964) has
also indicated great variation in cycle types in the Coal Measures. Attempts to define
a standard or ideal cycle were regarded as inappropriate because of this. Four
main stratigraphical variations are however recognisable (Fig.56). The lack of coals
I36 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
Lower Upper
part of part of
LOWER GELLIDEO MIDDLE
COAL
TO COAL PENNANT
MEASURES TWO-FEET-NINE MEASURES MEASURES
typically typically
typically tYPlcallY
30 -lOOft. 20 -100ft. 40- 12QA. 100 - 4004t.
KEY
PENNANT SANDSMVE
WMrOW. AUINLY Fl NE-
W N E O AND Q ~ T Z U l C
wim coNai onmrE E A N ~
Yl W nuDl Iw(E
KANT OEIWS
E L ME L LldRAhWS
W U ~ O E S
VMIED M I N E FUW
Fig.56. Westphalian cycles in South Wales. (After WOODLAND and EVANS, 1964.) (Lower Coal
Measures are Westphalian A; Gellideg to Two-feet-nine, Westphalian A-B; Upper part of Middle
Coal Measures, Westphalian C; and Pennant Measures, Westphalian C-D.) (Crown copyright, re-
produced by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery office.)
in the lowest part of the succession was taken to indicate successive episodes of sub-
sidence following on one another rather rapidly. Longer periods of stability were
postulated to account for the thick coals in the cycles higher in the succession. Sand-
stones are uncommon in both these cycle types and lateral variations occur with thin
partings in coal seams swelling to 100 ft. intervals of normal sediments within a few
miles. Higher in the succession occur cycles similar to the characteristic of Trueman
( ~ 1 3 3 . ) but lateral variations are still great (Fig.57).
GREAT BRITAIN 137
Cefn Coed Mari ne Band
m
Bri tanni c Mari ne Band
Upper Cockshot Rock
Hafod Heolog Mari ne Band
Lower Cockshot Rock
THREE COALS
TWO-FEET-NINE
FOUR-FEET
SIX-FEET
RED VEIN
GROUP
NI NE-FEET
U P P E R
FOUR- FEET
LOWER
FOUR-FEET
UPPER
SIX-FEET
COWER
SIX-FEET
CAERAU
VEIN
I
, UPPER
NINE-FEET
1 LOWER
NINE-FEET
BUTE
bzsj
Amman Marl ne Band m--M .
Fig.57. Generalised section of the lower part of the Middle Coal Measures (Westphalian B) in South
Wales illustrating lateral variation. (After WOODLAND and EVANS, 1964.) (Crown copyright, repro-
duced by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office.)
138 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
TABLE XXIV
LITHOLOGICAL FACIES OF THE ABBOTSHAM FORMATION, NORTH DEVON
(After DE RAAF et al., 1965)
~- -
Facies Description
L: Major-sandstone
facies
K: Fining-upwards
units
J : Cross-stratified
sandstones and
mudstones
H: Oscillatory beds3
G: Oscillatory beds-2
F: Oscillatory beds-1
E: Sandy streak
D: Silty streak
C: Turbidite
B: Silty mudstone
A: Black mudstone
Thicker sandstone beds up to 100 ft. Coarse- tofine-grained, erosive at
base, cross- and parallel laminated; ripple-drift and wavy-bedded;
sometimes structureless
Erosive sandstone at base, cross-bedded with mud flakes, grading up into
silty sandstones and silty mudstone with rippledrift bedding. Units up
to 30 ft.
Lenticular, cross stratified sandstones with erosive bases with horizontally
laminated siltstones and mudstones
Alternations of dark, poorly laminated or structureless mudstone and
wavy laminated silty sandstone
Alternations of dark grey, faintly laminated mudstone and silty and
sandy laminae sometimes rippled, often extensively burrowed
Alternations of structureless or poorly laminated black mudstone and
burrowed silty mudstone
More or less continuous bands of sandstone with small scale cross-lamina-
tion, muddier bands between sandstones contain lenses and laminae of
siltstone and fine sandstone
Thin (1-2 mm) silt laminae (up to 30 cm long) with wavy or rippled bedding
Graded sandstone-mudstone layers, parallel bedded, with sole markings
Thin (1-2 mm) lenticular bands of siltstone occurring in bands (up to
5-7 cm thick) separated by mudstone. Occasional colour banding
(2-3 cm thick)
Banded mudstone, black and very dark grey (1-2 cm thick); parallel
banded; with ferruginous concretions
The cycles from the topmost Coal Measures (Westphalian C-D), the Pennant
Measures, are quite different from those below. They are thicker and consist mainly
(80 %) of sandstone, the conglomeratic base of which frequently lies directly on coal.
Mudstone sometimes intervenes. The top of the sandstone however grades upwards
into finer material and sometimes several horizons of seatearth occur between the
mudstones before the coal appears. Changing environmental conditions were consider-
ed responsible for the different cycle types. WOODLAND and EVANS (1964) seemed to
avoid deliberately the use of the word deltaic in their discussion of the environment
GREAT BRITAIN 139
of deposition. They postulated sedimentation taking place in shallow water ona shelf of
considerable extent. The cycles resulted from intermittent subsidence of this shelf.
Occasional eustatic changes of sea level emphasised this subsidence.
The Lower Westphalian succession in north Devon, England, is lacking in coal
seams but it has been interpreted as a marginal, deltaic accumulation and is appro-
priately considered here. Though the sequence is almost entirely clastic, variation in
grain-size and sedimentary features (structures, inter-lamination, etc.) has allowed
the recognition of six cycles in 1,200 ft. of the Abbotsham Formation (DE F~ AAF et al.,
1965). The number of cycles examined did not warrant strict statistical treatment but
the authors set up a standardy cycle, admittedly subjective but nevertheless largely
based on the observed order in which the lithologies tend to occur. The standard
cycle approximates to a composite sequence and is made up of three members. A
lowermost mudstone member is followed by one which is intermediate in lithology
which in turn is capped by a sandstone member (Fig.58). The significant horizon
chosen to start the cycle is black mudstone with a sharp, usually erosive, base lying on
a burrowed horizon often with rootlets. The black finely laminated mudstone is
usually succeeded by a silty mudstone of lighter colour which may include some thin
graded sandstones interpreted as turbidites. Also associated with this member is a
lithology in which black and silty mudstone laminae are interbedded (oscillatory 1,
facies F, Table XXIV). The intermediate member is very variable and consists of a
number of lithologies referred to as silty streak, sandy streak and oscillatory facies which
are made up of inter-laminated beds of sandstone, siltstone and mudstone in different
proportions, sometimes with ripple cross-lamination, sometimes with burrows. The
uppermost sandstone member may comprise channel sandstones often cross-laminat-
ed, sometimes arranged in a unit which grades upwards from coarse- to fine-grain
(fining-upwards unit) or sandstones without an erosive base, some parallel laminated,
others showing cross-bedded units interbedded with mudstones (facies H, J, K, L,
Table XXIV). The top of the sandstone member is often finer in grain, burrowed and
may contain rootlets. Fossils are rare in the succession. Non-marine lamellibranchs
have been found in the upper parts of the cycles and minute goniatites in a mudstone
member (PRENTICE, 1960). The six cycles described are very variable. The order of
lithologies can be appreciated by taking the succession of facies as lettered by DE
RAAF et al. (1965, fig.8.). Examined in this detail the cyclic sedimentation is not at all
obvious. Generalising in terms of the three members Mudstone ( I ) , Intermediate (2),
and Sandstone (3) and allocating the 11 facies types (A-L) as indicated in Fig.58 to the
appropriate member the succession appears as:
Cycle 1: 13.
Cycle 2: 12123.
Cycle 3: 1.
Cycle 4: 1212123.
Cycle 5: 123.
Cycle 6: 13.
Q
Y
co
S
I
W
W
L
0
I-
v)
a
L
a
v)
-
Q
W
m
t
W
I
w
t
i
a
S
w
Q
W
k
I
-
II
P
W
m
I
E
W
Y
z
0
c
Y)
n
2
t
-
Fig.58. Facies of the Abbotsham Formation and their mutual relationships Within the standard
cycle. (After DE RAAF et al., 1965.)
CONTINENTAL EUROPE 141
(Cycles 1-6 numbered as in DE RAAF et al., 1965, fig.8, with the direction of
upward sequence from left to right). Even at this level there is considerable variation
and it is evident that many more examples would be necessary to establish a modal
cycle. Nevertheless there is a repetition which can be explained in terms of a sedimen-
tary model.
Mudstone, intermediate and sandstone members can be compared with the
sequence of lithologies in a delta. Thus the black mudstone can be taken as basin muds
accumulated off the margin of a delta pile whose bottomset beds are seen in the silty
mudstones. It is in this zone that sediment supply could occasionally produce turbidity
currents to form the occasional graded beds. The oscillatory facies (F), a mixture of
black mudstone and silty mudstone, would also be expected in this position. Sub-
marine topset beds, and foreset (deltaslope) environments are represented by the
facies with interbedded sands, silts and muds (facies D, E, G, H and perhaps the
finer-grained, lower portions of the facies J ), the precise upper and lower limits of the
sub-environments being difficult to dehe. On-delta (topset, sub-aerial) beds evidently
are formed of the sandstone member (facies J, K, L), a conclusion supported not only
by the coarsening of grain size and the obvious similarity of the fining-upwards units
to filled-in channels (FISK, 1960), but also by the presence of rootlet beds and non-
marine lamellibranchs. Of the Abbotsham cycles only number 5 might be taken to
represent one simple episode of delta buildings. I t was therefore suggested that the
formation as a whole does not represent the advance of one single delta into a basin
but a complex of deltas interfingering one with another. In the context of Westphalian
conditions in the southwest of Britain this complex of deltas seems more likely than
drainage wandering connected with one immense delta. The land mass supplying debris
from the northwest (a direction based on directional structures within the Abbotsham
Beds) was probably of restricted extent. Immediately to the north of the Bristol
Channel the Coal Measure of South Wales accumulated in a trough of similar size and
dimensions to the present basin and some of the debris was derived from the south
(BLUCK and KELLING, 1963). The absence of appreciable coals in the north Devon
Beds is one of their most interesting features and perhaps reflects different conditions of
subsidence and supply. Under conditions of slow subsidence and sedimentation there
are times when swamp conditions may establish themselves and persist to form coal
seams. On the other hand, and this may have been the case in the north Devon area
during the Lower Westphalian, subsidence and sedimentation may be so rapid that at
no time are swamps established for a long enough period to allow vegetation to
establish itself and hence ultimately produce coals.
CONTINENTAL EUROPE
We have treated at length the work done in the U.S.A. and Great Britain because of
our familiarity with the areas concerned and with the literature. This bias must not be
taken to mean that we do not recognise the contributions of workers in other countries.
142 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
In Germany and France, for example, SCHMIDT (1924), BARROIS (1927) and PRWOST
(1930) were among the first to appreciate the problems raised by coal-bearing cycles.
Since then innumerable papers have been written by authors in continental Europe
and they, in general, have used a similar approach to most workers in the U.S.A. and
Great Britain and have produced as great a diversity of opinions (see for example
DELMER, 1952; LOMBARD, 1952, 1956; RUTTEN, 1952; GRIBNITZ, 1954; HAVLENA,
1957; BERSIER, 1950, 1958; KOREJWO, 1958; BOUROZ, 1960; ZEMAN, 1964).
Apart from these papers, however, we should like to consider in more detail
works where a more fundamental difference in the mode of attack on the problem is
apparent. Discussion in Germany and Belgium for example has been greatly influenced
by the work of Fiege and Van Leckwijck respectively. They recognised cycles of
different orders of thickness within the Carboniferous succession (FIEGE, 1937, 1952,
1960; FIEGE et al., 1957; FIEGE and VAN LECKWIJ CK, 1964; VAN LECKWIJ CK, 1949,
1960, 1964) and postulated different modes of origin for the different sizes of cycles.
Describing the Lower Namurian Beds in Westphalia, FIEGE (1937) provided in
great detail the evidence for different types of cycles. He separated small cycles, 1 cm-
1 m in size, mainly recognizable by changes in grain size, from larger 4-5 m cycles
consisting of various rock types. The latter cycles he considered to be due to periodic
changes in the rate of erosion, perhaps due to epeirogenic movements, but more
probably to climatic changes.
The Lower Namurian beds of the Ruhr were discussed (FIEGE et al., 1957) in
terms of Grosszyklen, which were compared with the American cyclothems. An
argillaceous phase at the base of the cycle gradually, by inter-lamination, became
predominantly sandy upwards. Three phases-Ton-Phase; Ton-Sand Phase;
Grauwacken-Phase-were recognised. A sharp boundary at the base of the Ton-Phase
emphasised the asymmetry of the cycles which averaged about 4 m in thickness.
Laterally, cyclic sequences passed into non-cyclic sequences due to change of facies.
Larger cycles of about 10 m thickness, (mainly argillaceous beds) and smaller cycles
(graded sandstones 50-1 50 cm thick) were also identified.
I n the Upper Namurian, coal seams occurred above the Grauwacken-Phase
and an ideal cycle for the Ruhr Coal Measures was described as follows (following
GRIBNITZ, 1954):
(e) Coal.
(a) Clay-sandstone, mixed, frequently with rootlets.
(c) Sandstone.
(b) Clay-sandstone, mixed.
(a) Shale, often bituminous at base; marine band.
The thickness of cycles was considered statistically and three maxima were
observed: 4-5 m, 7 m and a weaker one at 10 m.
In Belgium, Lower Westphalian B coal measures were described by VAN
LECKWIJ CK (1949). He noted that between coals the beds occurred in a particular
three-fold order, though each unit was not invariably present. The roofs of the coals,
generally shales containing fossils, were followed by fairly thick, predominantly
CONTINENTAL EUROPE 143
sandy units which in turn were capped by argillaceous beds. These last were sometimes
wholly in the form of seat earth. Should there be no argillaceous beds then the top
of the sandy unit-usually interbedded mudstone and sandstone-had the character-
istics of a seatearth.
The roof shales could be 6-9 m thick, the sandy unit 20 m and the top argillaceous
beds 1-2 m but generally the overall thickness of the beds between coal seams was of
the order 9-10 m. Van Leckwijck emphasised that the number of cycles present in the
succession examined did not vary much, increasing from about 32 to 36 as the succes-
sion increased from 226 to 330 m in thickness. In The Netherlands there were 35-40
cycles in the corresponding interval which reached 385 m in thickness there.
Van Leckwijck considered that there was evidence for individual sandy units
having a great lateral spread and therefore favoured a more general mechanism to
account for the cycles than one which assumed shifting of drainage channels, dis-
tributaries, etc. He outlined a complicated series of positive and negative sea-level
changes which might account for both the order of the beds and their periodic absence.
In 1964, VAN LECKWIJ CK proposed a complete cycle for the Namurian of
Belgium:
(e) Coal.
( d) Shale, sandy with some inter-laminated sandstone.
( c ) Sandstone, with sandy shale.
(6) Shale, sandy, with some inter-laminated sandstone.
(a) Shale.
I t was pointed out that while in the Westphalian such a complete and symmetrical
cycle was common this was not the case in the Namurian. Asymmetrical cycles with
only units a, b and c (Dachbankzyklus of German authors) occurred in the latter
as did asymmetrical cycles containing only units c, d and e (Sohlbankzyklus). In
fact, exceptions to the complete cycle given above were the rule.
In addition to the broad measure of agreement between Belgium and Germany,
as far as the order and type of beds in the cycles were concerned, different orders of
cycles were recognised (e.g., FIEGE, 1937; FIEGE et al., 1957; VAN LECKWIJCK, 1952,
1964). The average thickness of a complete cycle was regarded as about 10 m. Within
such a cycle, however, it was often possible to determine thinner, usually incomplete
cycles (e.g., Dachbankzyklus) of about 4 m thickness. Perhaps three 4 m cycles formed
a 10 m cycle, though it was evidently only rarely that a 10 m cycle could be brokendown
entirely into 4 m cycles.
Larger cycles, sometimes referred to as 50 m cycles (FIEGE, 1960), 50-75 m cycles
(VAN LECKWIJCK, 1952), or 60 m cycles (FIEGE and VAN LECKWIJ CK, 1964; VAN
LECKWIJ CK, 1964), were also recognised, consisting of about six to eight 10 m cycles.
It is not at all clear how 4 m and 10 m cycles are differentiated and the authors
themselves admit difficulty (FIEGE et al., 1957; VAN LECKWIJ CK, 1960, 1963). There
seems also to be some confusion as to the thickness of the larger cycles and they too
cannot always be easily picked out (FIEGE et al., 1957; FIEGE and VAN LECKWIJCK,
1964). There does, however, appear to be a more objective basis for their recognition.
144 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
The beginning of a 50 m cycle is identified by the presence in its lowermost 10 m cycle of
a basal marine shale. Succeeding 10 m cycles change from comparatively thick, pre-
dominantly argillaceous, types to thinner ones containing sandstones and coals. The
succeeding 50 m cycle is recognised by the appearance of the next 10 m cycle carrying
a basal marine shale.
Further division of the succession, on the 100 m to several 100 m scale, was also
proposed by FIEGE (1960), based on the alternations of cycles carrying workable coals
with cycles lacking coals. In this paper he considered the origin of the coal-bearing
rocks of northwestern Europe in terms of 4, 10 anrl50 m cycles. The furmaiun of 4 m
cycles was considered to be due mainly to topographic and sedimentational irregulari-
ties. On the other hand 10 m cycles were usually more widespread and contained
fossils in the basal shales. They were thought to be due to epeirogenic movements,
though local topography and sedimentation could still modify them. The 50 m cycles,
of similar origin to the 10 m ones, were very extensive, were marked by marine bands
and in fact formed the basis of the major stratigraphic subdivisions of the Carbonifer-
ous in northwestern Europe.
The use of thickness as a criterion to distinguish cycles, particularly in successions
which show considerable vertical and lateral variations, seems to us quite inap-
propriate. At the very least the system is arithmetically unsatisfactory. There is always
the danger too that cycles will be identified at specific intervals because the system
carries the implication that they must exist.
The doubts regarding the validity of this type of analysis are strengthened when
the situation in The Netherlands is considered. The impression gained of the Carbonif-
erous rocks is that cyclic sedimentation is very poorly developed (THIADENS and
HAITES, 1944) although little and great cycles have been picked out (VAN DER
HEIDE, 1950). The little cycle was said to consist of a coarsening-upwards succession
from coal through shale, sandy shale and sandstone, at the top of which are found
rootlets under a capping of coal. Bracketed between marine horizons, a great cycle
consisted of a succession of little cycles, the upper set of which was rich in coal
horizons, in contrast to the barren lower ones. The great cycle might therefore be
compared to the 50-60-75 m cycles of the Ruhr and Belgium (p.143), savethatvander
Heide cited as an example the great cycle between the Wasserfall and Catenna Marine
Bands (Upper WestphaIian A), some 500 m thick!
In Britain we also doubt whether such an analysis could be applied. Taking the
Westphalian succession in the East Pennine Coalfield of England as an example, the
Clay Cross Marine Band, in the modiolaris zone, lies near the middle of a non-marine
sequence comprising some 2,000 ft. (610 m) of beds! Difficulties would also be en-
countered in the lower part of the Ienisulcata zone where as many as nine out of the
ten cycles making up the 400-1,000 ft. (120-305m) of beds can possess marine shales
(R. A. EDEN, 1954). Apart from the obvious difficulties of classifying the above parts
of the succession in terms of 410 and 50 m cycles, lateral variations (see e.g., DUFF and
WALTON, 1962) would surely frustrate any attempt at meaningful analysis in terms of
size of cycles.
CONTINENTAL EUROPE 145
All German authors do not, of course, accept themethods of F ~~~( 1960) ; and
JESSEN (1956a, by 1961) has written at length on cyclic sedimentation in both the Ruhr
and Europe in general.
The Ruhr he considered in terms of a normal cyclothem (Das Regel-Cyclo-
them, JESSEN, 1956a) as in Table XXV (cf. p.142).
TABLE XXV
THE RUHR CYCLE
(After JESSEN, 1956a)
Regressive hemicyclothem
(4) Sandstone
(3c) Sandstone, shaly
(3b) Shale, sandy
(3a) Shale
(2) Coal
Progressive hemicyclothem
(1) Rootlet bed I
In Jessens opinion, the roof shale (3a) marked a most significant point in the
genesis of the cycle viz., a change from transgressive to regressive conditions. In
practice incomplete cycles were the rule and the succession could be considered in
terms of cyclothem-pairsYy, each pair averaging about 18 m in thickness. Individual
cycles might lack either the transgressive or regressive phase or one or other phase
might be developed more fully. Such irregularities were considered to be due to oscilla-
tions of sea-level of less magnitude than those required to produce a normal cyclothem.
About fifteen cyclothem-pairs constituted a megacyclothem and some twelve
megacyclothems, each of the order of 250 m thick, made up the 3,000 m succession
in the Ruhr. Megacyclothems could evidently be picked out by the occurrence of well-
developed and widespread sandstones periodically throughout the succession.
Jessen was impressed by the constancy of numbers of cyclothems occurring
within given stratigraphic limits and feIt that only some unspecified extra-terrestrial
phenomenon could produce the numerous and regular oscillations of sea-level he
thought necessary.
In 1961 he erected a Voll-Cyclothem as representative of the northwest
European Carboniferous coal-bearing rocks in general (see Table XXVI).
This composite sequence is much idealised, most units are in practice missing
and in the absence of detailed information on the successions on which it is based it is
difficult to assess. As with the Regel-Cyclothem the pivotal lithology between
progressive and regressive hemicyclothems is the shale (8) and the symmetry about
this shale is a somewhat unusual feature.
Again it was alleged that the number of cycles was constant over large areas,
for example between marine bands recognisable in Germany and Britain. This is
demonstrably not true for within an individual coalfield in Britain variation in the
number of cycles making up a particular succession is considerable (see p.134).
146 TRANSITIONAL REGIMBT IN EUROPE
TABLE XXVI
CARBONIPEROUS COAL-BEARING CYCLE OF NORTHWESTERN EUROPE
(After JESSEN, 1961)
Regressive hemicyclothem
8a-14 (11) Inter-laminated sand and shale
(14) Conglomeratic sandstone
(13) Coarse-grained sandstone
(12) Fine-grained sandstone
(10) Sandy shale
I
(9) Shale, slightly sandy
(8) Shale
(7) Coal
(6) Shale (seatearth)
'I '
(5) Shale, slightly sandy
(4) Sandy shale
(3) Inter-laminated sand and shale
}y:mressive hemicyclothem
I
(2) Fine-grained sandstone
(1) Coarse-grained sandstone
The extra-terrestrial influences invoked by Jessen may have had some effect but
constancy of cyclothem development does not appear to have been one of them!
In Russia, particular interest has been shown in the Carboniferous system of the
Donetz Basin (Fig.38). The succession is some 10,0W12,000 m thick and the Tour-
naisian and Visean stages are predominantly marine sediments (limestone, dolomites,
shales) though in the upper part of the Visean and in the Lower Namurian a coal-
bearing facies is developed. The Middle Carboniferous (Bashkirian-Moscovian fi
Westphalian) bears the most coal. Unlike the Westphalian in western Europe, how-
ever, limestones, though thin, are of frequent occurrence. JABLOKOV et al. (1961), for
instance, recorded in 1,800 m of Middle Carboniferous rocks in the Donetz Basin
some 108 cycles, up to 115 seams of coal and 40 limestones.
The erosive bases of sandstones in the Moscovian are usually taken as the
beginning of the cycles with sandstones becoming finer-grained upwards and passing
into siltstones and argillites (KOPERINA, 1958). The last contain numerous rootlets
below the overlying coal seam. A marine or brackish-water fauna is carried by the
limestones and argillaceous beds which occur above the coals. Inevitably, however,
this is not the whole story and often some of the components are either lacking or
very poorly developed.
Koperina was more interested in changes of facies than in establishing cyclicity,
pointing out that the environment of deposition was different in the Lower Carbonifer-
ous from that of the Middle Carboniferous. In the former, coal measures were con-
sidered to have formed along a flat littoral zone fringed by a band of shallow water,
not more than 10 m deep and separated from the open sea by a belt of sand-bars and
spits. Only fine sediment accumulated in the lagoonal conditions behind the sand-bars
and as the lagoons silted up swamp conditions spread over the area. Perhaps for a
CONTINENTAL EUROPE 147
while peat accumulation could offset subsidence but eventually, Koperina supposed,
the sea would overwhelm the swamp and initiate the next cycle with the establishment
of a new sand-bar.
In the Middle Carboniferous coal measures deltaic accumulation was thought
to be operative. Outbuilding of the delta-plain led to marsh and peat formation and
the relative slowness of the peat accumulation would eventually lead to marine
invasions and the start of a new cycle. Limestone formed before the next influx of
clastic material brought by the growing delta. Koperina rejected arguments that channel
cutting at the base of some sandstones indicates uplift and favoured a sedimentary
control of cyclic sedimentation. In this she opposed the view of many Russian
geologists who are strongly in favour of tectonic controls (e.g., ZHEMCHUZNIKOV,
1958; FEOFILOVA, 1959). ZHEMCHUZNIKOV (1958, p.5) is particularly outspoken,
first on those sceptics who doubt the reality of cyclic sedimentation; . . .those who
accept rhythm in nature will find it even where it is rather indistinct and they will arrive
at proper conclusions (from A.G.I. translation; our italics) and on the origin of cyclo-
thems; If [geologists] . . . do not connect cyclicity and tectonic factors, they. . .
underestimate that [tectonic] factor.
Discussion is obviously very similar to that which we have reviewed in the
previous pages, although there seems to be very general support for mechanisms
involving tectonic oscillations superimposed on general subsidence. Techniques appear
to be dominated by the facies-cyclic method of Zhemchuzhnikov wherein lithologies
are assigned to environments and sub-environments with a confidence which wefind
somewhat surprising. Environments then reflect transgressive and regressive phases of
cycles. FEOFILOVA (1959), in a detailed study of 600-1,100 m of the Lower Carbonifer-
ous rocks in part of the Donetz Basin, described various types of cycles and differed
from KOPERINA (1958) in the interpretation of some facies. Asymmetry of the cycles
was emphasised, coals tending to be succeeded by lithologies recognised as the most
marine facies present. For the Visean succession the generalised sequence of deposition
appeared as:
Coal.
Fossil soil.
Siltstone with rootlets.
Siltstone.
Sandstone, fine-grained.
Siltstone, banded, with plants.
Siltstone with plants and shells.
Mudstone with shells.
Limestone, marine.
Coal.
This type of cycle exhibits regressive facies, transgressive facies being almost
entirely absent. In this, these Donetz Basin sediments differ considerably from the
Permian coal measures of the Pechora Basin in the Urals where approximately equal
development of regressive and transgressive components give a symmetrical structure
148 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
(the so-called balanced cycles of KRUMBEIN, 1964). Variation in cycle type could be
picked out by FEOFILOVA (1959), according to the particular part of the basin in which
the sediments accumulated. Five environments were recognised according to lithology
-marine, shallow-marine, embayment, lagoon and delta. Cycles representative of
various types were identified and statistical data used to show the percentage distri-
bution of each facies in the different cycle types. Marine cycles averaged about 5 m in
thickness and typically consist, in upward succession, of limestone, mudstone and
siltstone; coal is rare and never of workable thickness. Shallow-marine cycles comprise
three main variants made up of different combinations of siltstone and mudstone; no
coal is present, average thickness is 5-7 m. Lagoonal types bear commercial coals.
Deltaic types have sandstone: and so on with minor variations.
The Lower and Middle Carboniferous succession in the Donetz, Karaganda and
Moscow Basins have been described as showing a complicated intercalation of deposits
of different facies; marine (in-and-off-shore), transition (lagoons, bars, bays, sub-
merged parts of deltas, etc.) and continental (river, bog, etc.) (J ABLOKOV et al., 1961). The
authors were impressed with the occurrence of alluvial deposits beneath coal seams.
These alluvial sediments rarely exceed 20-30 m though occasionally several episodes
of alluvial deposition can be picked out. Scouring and channelling were taken to
indicate periodic uplift and further evidence of this was cited in the occurrence of
bog deposits on the foraminifera1 limestones, the latter being considered to have form-
ed at depths of 50-100 m.
In contrast to the facies-cyclic method advocated by Zhemchuzhnikov, V.S.
J ablokov (quoted by ZHEMCHUZHNIKOV, 1958) preferred to examine grain-size changes
through a succession as an aid to picking out cycles before detailed facies studies.
This cycle-to-facies method aimed at being more objective in application but some
difficulties arose when, for example, cycles indicated by the granulometric studies were
at variance with the cyclic sedimentation suggested by facies studies.
We cannot claim that the foregoing is an adequate r hm6 of the Russian con-
tribution nor would it be reasonable, because of language problems, for us to be
dogmatic in our evaluation of the work and ideas. Nevertheless there does seem to be a
certain arbitrariness in the way in which different facies are recognised and ascribed to
different environments. Larger-scale groups of cycles have been suggested. Thus 1 st
order cycles are grouped into meso- or 2nd order cycles and mesocycles into macro-
or 3rd order cycles and macrocycles into mega- or 4th order cycles. But again the basis
of such groupings is not clear, nor is it possible to correlate these larger cycles with
those set up in different parts of the world.
DISCUSSION
Environment of deposition
As stated at the beginning of this chapter, on the basis of available evidence, the
environment of deposition of the British Carboniferous rocks under discussion (and
DISCUSSION 149
their European counterparts) appears to have been shallow-water and in the main
non-marine. GREENSMITH (1956, 1962, 1965), D. MOORE, (1958), J OHNSON (1960),
BLUCK and KELLING (1963), CLARKE(1963), KELLrNG(1964a), E~L10T~(1965), to name
but a few, have all provided evidence supporting this thesis. Many workers have
considered the cyclic sequences in all divisions of the British Carboniferous to represent
deltaic sedimentation interrupted periodically by marine invasions. There were, of
course, differences in emphasis of the marine phases in Yoredale facies, Millstone
Grit facies and Coal Measures facies, deposition. D. MOORES (1958) comparison
(Table XXI) of the Mississippi delta and Yoredale rocks seems apposite while DUFF and
WALTON (1962) also pointed out similarities between Coal Measures cycles and
sequences met with in present-day deltas. The possible importance of coastal sand
barriers was emphasised by ROBERTSON (1948) and KOPERINA (1958). CLARKE (1963)
considered Coal Measures sedimentation in Europe in terms of a large coastal plain,
emphasising the not infrequent river-like channels filled by sandstones, as also did
ELLIOTT (1 965). HEMINGWAY (in preparation) likened Coal Measures sedimentation
to that seen in intertidal flats on which lacustrine and deltaic environments frequently
encroached. The uniqueness of this combination in Carboniferous times was the vast
areal extent.
Cycle mechanisms
I t has been pointed out that theories of origin of Pennsylvanian cyclothems can be
regarded as falling into two main groups-those involving a tectonic mechanism
and those that rely on climatic control.
In Europe, it is also possible to consider theories of origin under these headings
but additional groups must be added (Table XXVII). The table is a generalisation and
it must be emphasised that not all the described sequences are necessarily comparable
and that many theories contain elements from those in other groups (for a more detail-
ed classification see, e.g., WESTOLL, 1962, p.767). Those theories under others are
mainly of historical interest and are not discussed here. Table XXVII is useful, how-
ever, in containing a large enough sample to show important differences in thought
between European and American geologists. Obviously, in Europe, climatic control
has not been thought important. By contrast the assumed great lateral extent of indi-
vidual cycles in America has presumably led to sedimentational control being barely
considered.
Overwhelmingly, European geologists have favoured tectonic control but, with
a few exceptions, most authors have not supported the diastrophic-control theory of
WELLER (1956). The objections raised to this theory in Chapter 4 are even more strong-
ly supported by the evidence in Europe.
Intermittent subsidence (tectonically controlled) of the depositional area,
(with, of course, modifications in detail) has received most support as a possible
mechanism for producing coal-bearing cycles. The concept implies that, periodically,
150 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
TABLE XXVll
THEORIES OF ORIGIN OF COAL-BEARlNGCYCLES FAVOURED BY EUROPEAN AUTHORS
._
Tectonic
DE LA BECHE, 1834
MACLAREN, 1838
GEIKIE, 1882
MILLER, 1887
GOODCHILD, 1891
Hmm, 1902
BISAT, 1920
HUDSON, 1924
SCHMIDT, 1924
BROUGH, 1928
PRUVOST, 1930
TONKS et al., 1931
TROTTER and HOLLINGWORTH, 1932
~ G E , 1937, 1960
MAKOWSKI, 1937
TRUEMAN, 1946, 1948, 1954
VAN LECKWIJCK, 1949
BERSIER, 1950
DUNHAM, 1950
DELEAU, 1952
HAVLENA, 1957
K o m o , 1958
ZHEMCHUZHNIKOV, 1958
FEOFILOVA, 1959
JOHNSON, 1960
WELLS, 1960
JABLOKOV et al., 1961
GREENSMITH, 1962
WESTOLL, 1962
BOIT, 1964
WOODLAND and EVANS, 1964
RVrreN, 1952
ZEMAN, 1964
Sedimentat ional
PHILLIPS, 1836
ROBERTSON, 1948, 1951
DELMER, 1952
BERSIER, 1958
KOPERINA, 1958
D. MOORE, 1958, 1959, 1960
GOODLET, 1959
DUFF and WALTON, 1962
READ, 1965
(Plants have controlling influence)
CIimatic
SCHWARZACHER, 1958
HOLLINGWORTH, 1962
?JESSEN, 1956a, b, 1961
(Unspecified extra-
terrestrial control)
Compactioml
THIADENS and HAITES, 1944
VAN DER HEIDE, 1950
Others
MILNE, 1839
SIMOENS, 19 1 8
W. FRANCIS, 1961
after silting up of the area of deposition, subsidence slowed down or ceased altogether,
then after a prolonged period of plant growth, commenced again with renewed vigour,
with consequent drowning of the coal swamp. How then does this theory fit the facts?
In the Coal Measures, it must be emphasised once more that weare not dealing
with successions where the same number of beds keeps regularly appearing, again and
again, in the same order. Rather wesee a sequence of events where spasmodically, a
return to the same environment for varying periods of time is recorded. Between these
periods, changes in sedimentation occurred, sometimes in a predictable manner. Most
important, it appears that in any area of deposition, other than very occasionally, the
environment is not identical everywhere. Splitting of coal seams indicates that while
swamp conditions obtained in one place, simultaneously, sand, silt or mud was being
deposited elsewhere. Tracing of a particular horizon laterally may also show marked
DISCUSSION 151
W.. 10 miles E.
WATER TOLL No. 3 30.24 No. 25 No. 8'
COMRIE
BORE BORE BORE BORE BORE BOIUP
CAIIIZIUS CARTAKRY BOCSIDE COMRrE COMRlE
mh f u d s t o n r
Fig.59. Relationship of tuffaceous horizon to beds of a cycle in Scottish Carboniferous over a distance
of 10 miles. (After E. H. FRANCIS, 1965.) (Crown copyright, reproduced by permission of the Con-
troller of H.M. Stationery Office.)
variations in the faunal content of that horizon, and in the beds below and above it,
indicating facies changes. Few horizons seems to be true time-horizons. This was
graphically illustrated, on a small scale, by E. H. FRANCIS (1961), in the Limestone
Coal Group in Fife, Scotland, where the tuffaceous band, presumably as near a true
time-horizon as is possible to find, is seen to cut right across the rock units of a cycle
(Fig.59). While marine sediments accumulated in one part of the area a coal swamp
existed some miles away.
A second point of importance in considering the origin of cycles is that it has
been demonstrated, for instance by DUFF and WALTON (1964), and READ and DEAN
(in preparation), that the number of cycles in a succession is intimately related to the
thickness of the succession. The thicker the succession the greater is the number of
cycles present.
Lateral variation, then, makes it difficult to appeal to change of environment
brought about by some important event controlled by either a general tectonic mechan-
ism (e.g., intermittent subsidence) or by climatic and/or eustatic changes, for the
formation of each and every cycle. If at one place the drowning of a coal forest is
taken to indicate the occurrence of such an important event then that event must
appear quite unrepresented (or unrecognisable) in a succession some short distance
away-perhaps in the middle of an apparently homogenous sandstone or shale!
152 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
If this is so, how does one decide which sections provide proof of such events and
which sections record the number of times such events occurred? Certainly, detailed
palaeontological work has shown the presence of rhythmic alternations of fauna in
apparently homogenous shale sequences (see e.g., RAMSBOTTOM et al., 1962; READ,
1965) and these may be correlatable with the formation of coal-bearing cycles else-
where. But these instances are exceptional. On the whole, at present, there is simply
not the evidence for the general synchronous development of individual cycles over
large areas. There are exceptions-some of the European Upper Carboniferous marine
horizons are very widespread-but they are the only evidence at present for large-scale
sea-level changes. Most Upper Carboniferous cycles seem to be quite adequately
explained in terms of sedimentational variations in an area undergoing general, though
often areally differential, subsidence. Deltaic conditions in perhaps a delta coastal plain
appear to supply a possible environment.
BOTT (1964) put forward a theory claiming an isostatic origin for the intermittent
subsidence thought necessary to explain Carboniferous cycles in Britain, which were
stated to be about 100 ft. thick. This figure is quite unrealistic and it is clear from the
text that Bott was primarily concerned with the limestone-bearing Yoredale-facies of
the Carboniferous in northern England. Certain limestones in this facies are
traceable over perhaps 2,000 sq. miles or more (Fig.51-53) and this persistence has
been taken to indicate that periodicaly intermittent subsidence with resultant invasion
by the sea has occurred. But again there is considerable lateral variation which Bott
appears to have ignored, and the number of cycles varies from area to area. The so-
called minor cycles in the Yoredales are identical in all but thickness and areal
extent to the major cycles (SHIELLS, 1963). I t then becomes a question of degree
whether the origin of any particular cycle is assigned to sedimentary fluctuations or
whether intermittent subsidence over a large area is required. The proposed delta-
switching theories of D. MOORE (1958) and GOODLET (1959) seem more acceptable.
The picture which emerges from this discussion is firstly, that of an area under-
going general subsidence. Secondly, this subsidence was probably differential from
area to area since it seems unlikely that a large part of the crust should behave as a
monolithic block. Sedimentation inevitably took place in this basinal region but the
development of cycles was controlled by sedimentary distributive mechanisms. If
this is accepted for coal-bearing cycles what general problems still remain?
The Kansas megacyclothems raise considerable difficulties, as noted earlier.
There seems no doubt that in certain parts of the succession, limestones, of distinctive
types, appear in a particular order. Their significance, in terms of environment of
deposition, is a matter for debate (see particularly, MERRIAM, 1964). Another difficulty
inassessingthecyclicnature of the Kansas succession, in terms, say, of Illinois, or even
Europeancycles, is the evident lack of seat earth or coal horizons. An objective appraisal
of cyclic sedimentation in Illinois and the Appalachians using seat earth/coal horizons
as markers can obviously be made. In Kansas, however, the more marine nature of the
beds makes this difficult. Regional facies studies may, however, yield answers to the
problems more quickly then continual attempts to explain complicated, often hypo-
DISCUSSION 153
thetical, vertical sequences. I t may well be that the Kansas cycles are not strictly
comparable with the majority of coal-bearing cycles in America and Europe.
The question of scale is an obvious general problem. Given, however, a number
of deltas, often coalescing along coastal plains with the sea generally not far distant,
comparison with recent and present-day deltaic areas makes this difficulty appear to be
not too great. In America the scale is larger but the problem not insuperable if it is
conceded that most individual cyclothems are not continuous from, say, Kansas to
the Appalachians. Further work may confirm that a number of the American cycles
are persistent and perhaps even correlatable with some in Europe. This would provide
strong evidence for eustatic changes in sea level. In general, however, regular and
numerous periods of world-wide change of sea level seem unnecessary.
The asymmetry of cycles, in particular those in which coal is immediately
overlain by marine beds, has been taken as indicative of sudden subsidence. I t should
be realised, however, that a marine transgression will normally lead to alluviation
upstream and consequently slower sedimentation in the area encroached by the sea.
TABLE XXVIII
STRATIGRAPHY OF CORE HOLE 105, RH~NE DELTA
(After LAGAAY and KOPSTEIN, 1964)
Deltaic Environment of deposition
structural
elements
Gross lithology
(7) Coastal plain (undifferentiated)
Topsets (6) Distributary channel Sand
(5) Fluviomarine barrier face
(4) Proximal-fluviomarine
Foresets (3) Distal-fluviomarine
Bottomsets
(2) (1) Slow Moderate deposition deposition )Middle-neritic
Marine clay
Alluvial valley (Pleistocene) Sand and gravel
Interesting information on this point is available from a borehole sequence through
sediments of the Rh8ne Delta (Table XXVIII; LAGAAY and KOPSTEIN, 1964). The
late Pleistocene marine transgression resulted in alluvial sands and gravels being
covered with a thin marine clay. At a much more recent date the delta encroached and
there followed rapid deposition of deltaic silts and sands. The spectacular changes in
numbers and in composition of the microfauna are credited primarily to the increase
in the rate of deposition as the delta advances. The scarcity of microfauna in the rapidly
deposited upper half or two thirds of the sequence contrasts markedly with the great
154 TRANSITIONAL REGIMES IN EUROPE
abundance of microfauna in the thin basal Bryozoa Bed which took several thousand
years to accumulate. This kind of development, from an abundant microfauna at the
bottom to a scarce microfauna at the top, seems to be characteristic of certain trans-
gressive-regressive marine cycles. (LAGAAY and KOPSTEIN, 1964, p.226).
This situation is true of most Coal Measures cycles as far as fossils are concerned.
Most mussels and marine fossils are found near the base of the cycle, above the coal.
JESSEN (1956) and WELLS (1960), for example, emphasised that the juxtaposition of a
marine roof and a coal need not imply the sudden or intermittent subsidence invoked
by many authors (e.g., PRWOST, 1930; TRUEMAN, 1946; DUNHAM, 1950; WOODLAND
and EVANS, 1964).
Returning to the general question of coal-bearing cycles it will be obvious from
the foregoing that sedimentational controls are regarded as the main reason for the
succession of beds of varying type between seatearth/coal horizons. But can sedimen-
tational controls alone explain why swamp conditions periodically ceased? If inter-
mittent subsidence (of tectonic origin) and eustatic changes of sea level (of climatic or
tectonic origin, see Chapter 11) are rejected, how can this flooding be brought about?
Four possibilities might be considered:
( A) The breaking down of an off-shore barrier has been put forward by, for
example, ROBERTSON (1948) and KOPERINA (1958), with some conviction. While the
evidence of such barriers in Carboniferous sequences is not conspicuous, sand-bars
may well have played an important part in analogous environments in other parts of
the geological column, e.g., the Wealden cycles of southeast England (discussed in
Chapter 3). Furthermore, TEICHMULLER and TEICHMULLER (in preparation) have
described how a 300 ft. seam of lignite of Miocene age in the Lower Rhine District of
Germany formed in a coastal swamp protected from the North Sea by a large sand-bar.
Obviously, the breaking down of such a barrier would result in the sea flooding
the swamp area, but this mechanism might only apply to those cycles containing
marine horizons. I t might be extended by supposing that, after breakdown of the
barrier, the salinity of the water decreased inland and the upper reaches of the flooded
delta-swamp supported a flourishing non-marine bivalve fauna. Evidence for the
lateral passage of marine into non-marine horizons, is, however, scarce (but see
GOODLET, 1959, pp.232-233).
( B) Compaction of the sediments between the coal horizons (and of course of
the peat itself), may, as THIADENS and HAITES (1944) and VAN DER HEIDE (1950)
suggested, play an important part in cyclic sedimentation.
I n Europe it can be demonstrated that there may exist a direct relationship
between the thickness of a coal seam and the shale/sandstone ratio below the seam
(TRUEMAN, 1954). The greater compaction of the mud is thought to have allowed more
peat (and hence a thicker coal) to form. Obviously, below any swamp there could be
variable thicknesses of sand, silt, mud and peat, all of which were undergoing com-
paction. Is the rate of compaction constant or does it vary through time? Might not
the load of sediments in a particular area reach a critical level, causing the rate of
compaction in underlying material to increase rapidly so that the swamp is flooded?
DISCUSSION 155
If there is any truth in this suggestion, flooding through the agency of compaction-
subsidence could be liable to take place both on the delta-front, allowing a marine
incursion, and on the delta-top, allowing non-marine flooding and providing another
way of producing splits. A point in favour of this mechanism is that it could happen at
any time during sedimentation, thus accounting for the irregularity of most cycles.
( C) Sedimentational control alone, in the form of distributary changes, could
conceivably affect the growth of forest swamps and hence the accumulation of peats.
It is known for instance, that changes in salinity have a very marked effect on the type
of vegetation that can thrive in a water-logged environment. A major drainage switch
might result in large areas of forest being deprived of the fresh water (in addition to
the rain water) necessary for continued survival of the peat-forming plants. If plant-
growth, and hence peat accumulation, does not keep up with subsidence then flooding
will occur. As in ( A) this mechanism would perhaps have its greatest effect in the
production of cycles containing marine horizons.
(D) It is implicit in all theories concerning coal-bearing cycles that peat accumu-
lation would continue indefinitely unless changes of climate, rates of subsidence or
some combination of externalfactors led to flooding of the peat swamp. The assumption
is that flooding is the reason for the decline of the swamp vegetation but the reverse
could be true, i.e., flooding occurred because the swamp vegetation ceased to flourish.
I t is worth considering what causes changes in the flora colonising a particular
area. A change of climate will obviously have a profound effect on the vegetation.
Alterations in the drainage, which may or may not be the result of climatic change, are
also critical. Examination of the stratigraphical distribution of spore types within coal
seams shows that striking changes in the flora contributing to the peat took place. Such
changes in coals of the Yorkshire Coal Measures, England, were compared by SMITH
(1962) with evidence from present-day peat bogs. The accumulation of peat can so
alter the drainage and nutritional properties of the layers where the plants root that the
type of flora growing on top of peat may change independently of climatic fluctuations.
In Carboniferous peats it was difficult to assign changes in flora to either climatic or
edaphic factors.
The coastal and deltaic peat swamps of Sarawak (J . A. R. ANDERSON, 1963),
which cover some 5,660 sq. miles, provide, perhaps, conditions most analogous to
Carboniferous coal swamps. In Borneo there is abundant evidence of the dying out
of a forest vegetation due to edaphic factors. J. A. R. ANDERSON (1963, p.131) de-
scribed how Alluviumcarrieddown by the river draining the interior has been deposit-
ed at the mouths of rivers or in bays along the coast and as the coastline progressed
seawards so peat has developed and accumulated under the dense forest on the plain
behind. The Rejang, the largest river on the northern coast of Borneo, and to a lesser
extent other rivers, has divided to form a complex deltaic system. Each island on the
delta forms a distinct and self-contained swamp unit bounded by a fringe of mangrove
or riparian forest. . . The coastal and deltaic peat swamps. . . are entirely of the raised
bog type with a stilted water table and surface drainge. From the shores of each island
inwards, marked changes in plant species occur. Trees become smaller and scarcer.
156 TRANSITIONAL. REGIMES IN EUROPE
The central parts, higher above water level than the peripheries, cannot support a
forest vegetation. The vegetation types are found in a catenary sequence from the
perimeter to the centre of a raised bog. . . pollen analysis indicated that the horizontal
pattern of vegetation types found on the ground is also likely to be found in a vertical
succession in the centre of the raised bogs (J. A. R. ANDERSON, 1963, p.142).
Application of such considerations to Carboniferous coal-swamps leads to the
suggestion that perhaps plant growth and hence peat accumulation changed so that
the latter could not indefinitely offset continuous subsidence. Whether the main reason
for the cessation of forest growth was climatic or edaphic is difficult to assess but the
evidence from Sarawak indicates that edaphic factors alone could be sufficient. I t
must be emphasised that in the context we are discussing neither climatic nor edaphic
changes need take place with any regular periodicity. Rather it seems they would
each act within the framework of the irregular cyclic sedimentation inherent in a delta
coastal plain environment. Given a suitable climate, swamp forests would flourish
wherever sedimentation made the water shallow enough. Once established, the length
of time peat would accumulate would depend on many factors but at any time condi-
tions could have become unsuitable for plant growth, and these conditions need not
have been uniform throughout the area. Thus we have in a sedimentary-edaphic
control mechanism adequate allowance for all the irregularities of cyclic sedimen-
tation known from coal-bearing sequences.
In summary, a theory of cyclothem development which includes only delta-
switching as a mechanism we conclude is inadequate. Some method of ending coal-
swamp conditions must be found and we have given four possibilities. If drainage
changes are combined with edaphic controls we have a sedimentational mechanism
which accounts not only for the order of the sediments, and their lateral complexity,
but also for the cessation of one cycle and the beginning of another.
Periodically, during Carboniferous times, as evidenced by the few very wide-
spread and thicker marine bands in the European Coal Measures (see DUFF and
WALTON, 1962) it does appear that an overall rise of sea level took place. Eustatic
changes in sea level in these few instances seem possible, and might coincide in time
with important changes in Pennsylvanian sedimentation in America but these are
considered incidental in the cyclic sedimentation of Carboniferous rocks. Other
mechanisms may have played their part but the combination of sedimentary-edaphic
processes seems built in to the envisaged palaeogeography, and, if we are correct, must
have led to cyclicity.
Chapter 6
EPICONTINENTAL, MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
CALCAREOUS AND ARGILLACEOUS ROCKS
In this and the two succeeding chapters we shall consider those cyclic deposits laid
down in stable shelf seas, corresponding essentially with the neritic zone, though
with inevitable gradations into the bathyal and littoral zones. The usual abundance of
benthonic fossils signifies shallow water conditions, with depth of sea normally less
than 200 m. By restricting consideration to stable shelf deposits we intend to exclude
those beds suggestive of rapid deposition in tectonically unstable areas, the so-called
flysch-type facies. Although these deposits are normally considered to have been laid
down in deep water this may not be easy to prove, and so it is better to separate them
as geosynclinal on the basis of their distinctive lithological characteristics (see
Chapter 9).
Stable shelf regimes are characterised in contrast by comparatively slow deposi-
tion, and sandstones are generally subordinate to argillaceous, biogenic and chemical
deposits. Volcanic detritus is rare or absent and the arenaceous beds are characteristi-
cally well sorted. The most typical sedimentary structures in these rocks are cross-
bedding and ripple marks.
As the lithologies in stable shelf regimes show considerable variety, in contrast
to, say, flysch deposits, it has been found convenient to subdivide sedimentary
cycles primarily on a lithological basis. In this chapter we shall be concerned with
carbonate rocks, mainly limestones, and argillaceous rocks, which may on occasion
be collectively referred to as shales or clays.
Mainly because of diagenetic alteration, limestones may pose difficult problems
of interpretation. This is most acute in those fine-grained types known variously as
calcite mudstone, calcite siltstone, calcilutite and micrite. It is normally impossible to
tell whether such rocks, recrystallised to a fine mosaic of calcite crystals, had an in-
organic or organic origin. However, limestones have two great advantages. Fossils
are frequently abundant, and allow important deductions about the environment of
deposition and, in many instances, correlation over large distances. Secondly, the
absence of coarse terrigenous detritals simplifies interpretation of cyclic sequences by
effectively eliminating the influence of migrating stream channels, which is so impor-
tant in other environments.
The classification to be adopted in this chapter is as follows:
( I ) Cycles composed of differing types of limestone.
(2) Limestone-dolomite cycles.
(3) Cycles composed of limestones and argillaceous beds: (a) minor cycles,
(b) major cycles.
158 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
CYCLES COMPOSED OF DIFFERING TYPES OF LIMESTONE
A classic account of major cyclic alternations within a limestone sequence, measurable
in tens of metres, was published early this century by DIXON and VAUGHAN (191 I), on
the Lower Carboniferous in the Gower Peninsula, south Wales. A contrast was made
between the so-called standard and lagoon phase limestones. The standard limestones
consist predominantly of crinoidal and oolitic limestones, some of them dolomitised,
rich in a variety of marine fossils. These were considered to be shallow water but open
sea deposits. The lagoon phase limestones are characteristically finer-grained and less
fossiliferous, the fauna being restricted mainly to a few species of bivalves. They
include calcite mudstones (calcilutites) and beds with algal structures. Certain
sedimentary breccias suggest reworking of material broken up by desiccation. These
deposits were supposed to be of extremely shallow water origin and effectively isolated
from the open sea. It is likely that salinities were abnormal.
UPPER
0 R S CLEISTOPORA ZAPHRENTIS SYRINGOTHVRIS S E M I N U L A DI BUNOPHYLLUM
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Fig.60. Lower Carboniferous carbonate sequence in South Wales, showing major cycles. The thick
line signifies relative depth of sea. (After DIXON and VAUGHAN, 1911.)
Dixon and Vaughan related the large-scale repetitions of these two types of facies
to changes in depth of sea (Fig.60) with the standard limestones signifying slightly
deeper water. These depth changes were considered to be a result of local earth
movements superimposed on a regional subsidence. From a comparison of slight
facies changes in neighbouring regions it was concluded that these earth movements
were differential, and that regions of deeper water were depressed to a greater extent.
A comparable sequence, cyclic on a smaller scale, in the Upper Visean of Belgium,
has recently been described by PIRLET (1963). The cycles, ranging in thickness from
60 cm to 10 my consist of two alternating phases. Phase A is composed of skeletal
calcarenite with an interstitial drusy calcite cement ("calcaire organoclastique")
while phase B consists of poorly fossiliferous calcilutite ("calcaire cryptogrenu") and
stromatolitic limestone. The base of phase A is marked characteristically by an erosion
or scour surface, the top by a gradual transition. PIRLET'S (1963) interpretation of the
cycles (Fig.61) is similar to that of DIXON and VAUGHAN (1911). Phase B rocks were
deposited on extremely shallow lagoonal platforms (as signified by the algal horizons)
protected from strong marine currents, an environment that was evidently rather
unfavourable for animal life.
CYCLES OF DIFFBRING TYPES OF LIMESTONE 159
The change to phase A deposits reflects a subsidence, which allowed the open
sea to break in. Conditions were favourable for normal benthonic organisms and fine
calcareous mud was winnowed away by current and wave action. As subsidence
diminished and the still-shallow sea filled up with sediment, so extensive lagoons form-
ed once more.
Small-scale cycles in the Pennsylvanian limestones of northeastern Nevada
(DOTT, 1958) do not differ notably from those described by PIRLET (1963).Thereisthe
same alternation between mechanically deposited rocks (skeletal calcarenites, oolites,
subsidiary calcirudites) and fine-grained limestones, some of them cherty (Fig.62).
The most important difference is that the fine-grained beds in Nevada contain shelly
fossils and are not stromatolitic. Dott was cautious in his interpretation, observing
that the cycles resulted from periodic variations in strength of waves and currents but
hesitating to go further. I t is worth noting that WANLESS and PAJTERSON (1952), in
their article on limestone-shale cycles in the Pennsylvanian of neighbouring states,
attributed calcarenites to formation above and calcilutites to formation below wave
base. Hence calcilutites were held to signify deeper water in this case, an interpretation
diametrically opposed to that of PIRLET (1963) and DIXON and VAUGHAN (191 1).
This is a possible interpretation when the calcilutites are not stromatolitic or mud-
cracked. Where such alternations are small-scale and frequent through a thick suc-
cession, it may be doubted whether each cycle marks a change in depth of sea, however
slight. I t is possible that periodic storms might have stirred up fine-grained sediment
leaving thin horizons of winnowed shells as their record, a process that can be observed
occasionally, for instance, in the Bahamas.
I II
Depth of water Subsidence
Fig.61. Minor cycles in the Visean limestones of Belgium. (Adapted from PLRLET, 1963.)
160 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
200 U
broduc t i d r
16 Spirifer
f D
Dictyacloatus, Crinoid stems, corals.
86 +-D
Productus
BRYOZOA, tinoproductus, Derbyia,
Composita, Spirifer, DictyoclostuY,
Schizoohoria. Echinoconchus.
8 ,
Stersostylur, Squamulario
productids, crinoid atems.
4
' D
Di c t y oclo st us, Li no produ ctus, Spi r i fe r
-D
CREASING BOTTOM
AG I TAT 10N
FINE, CHERTY LIMESTONE
~ C O Q U I N O I D LIMESTONE
COQUINITE
~ O S S ~ L HASH" CALCARENITE
m S I L T , SAND, CONGLOMERATE
DIASTEM
Fig.62. Cyclic pattern in Pennsylvanian carbonate sequence near Elko, Nevada. (After Don, 1958.)
SCHWARZACHER (1958) has divided up the Lower Carboniferous Great Scar
Limestone (northwest Yorkshire) into cycles in an unusual way. Ten cycles averaging
about 9 m thick are marked off by master bedding planes traceable laterally over a
considerable distance. Most of the limestones are fossiliferous, with crinoid ossicles
being the most abundant, and have a matrix varying from microcrystalline calcite
mud to coarsely crystalline interstitial cement. Schwarzacher claimed that the pro-
portion of fossils in the limestones increases towards the bedding planes, suggesting
a correlation of these with phases of increased current strength and reduced precipita-
tion of calcium carbonate.
LIMESTONE-DOLOMITE CYCLES 161
The regularity of the bedding planes was thought to favour climatic rather than
tectonic control. Schwarzacher made the suggestion that several of the cycles in the
Great Scar Limestone correspond with limestones in the classic Yoredale succession
further north.
LIMESTONE-DOLOMITE CYCLES
The best-described cyclic alternations of limestone and dolomitic rock occur in the
so-called Lofer facies of the Upper Triassic in the Austrian Alps. These were made
famous by SANDER (1936, 1951) in his pioneer studies of fabrics in carbonate rocks.
Sander distinguished between so-called metre-rhythms and millimetre-rhythmites, well
exemplified in the Dachstein and Wetterstein Limestones. The former consist of cyclic
alternations, generally a few metres thick, of massive limestones containing abundant
bivalves (Megalodon) and finely laminated dolomitic beds without fossils. The latter
comprise the millimetre rhythmites, with laminae ranging mostly between 1 and 5 mm
in thickness. Traces of algal structures are present in the rhythmites. Sander regarded
the rhythmites as varve deposits, without being able to produce convincing evidence.
They were held to signify deposition in stagnant water below wave base, perhaps
between 100 and 200 m depth (a greater depth was ruled out by the presence of algae).
The massive Megalodon limestone signified shallower water conditions, partly above
wave base. Sander thought that the periodic changes in water depth implied by this
interpretation were more likely the result of climatic control operating through glacia-
tion than local epeirogenic control, because counting of the millimetre rhythmites per
cycle gave a figure approaching 21,000 years, which is supposed to mark an equinoxial
cycle.
SCHWARZACHER (1954) made a statistical study of this cyclic succession in the
Dachstein Limestone of Lofer and concluded that every fifth dolomitic bed was
thicker than its neighbours. He thought that such a regular repetition probably
signified an ultimate astronomical control, but this was not specified in detail.
A further detailed study of the Lofer cycles has recently been made by FISCHER
(1964). They were attributed to a lagoonal, back-reef facies north of a major reef belt.
Fischer described a typical Lofer cycle (corresponding to a composite sequence) as
follows :
( d) Subtidal massive limestone (calcarenite and calcilutite) with marine shells.
(c) Intertidal dolomitic member with a variety of shrinkage features attributed to
(b) Argillaceous member, red or green in colour, restricted to solution or desic-
(a) Disconformity. Some sediments probably lost through erosion.
The laminae of unit c, the dolomitic member, which would have been interpreted
by Sander as varves, were compared with algal mat laminated sediments of the type
found, for instance, in the Bahamas and Florida. These, combined with desiccation
desiccation.
cation cavities in the underlying rock.
162 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
features such as prism cracks, sheet cracks and shrinkage pores, were held to signify
intertidal conditions. They are thus regarded as shallower water deposits than the
massive shell limestone, which is thought to have formed in several metres depth of
water. Such an interpretation, the opposite of Sanders, parallels in an interesting way
the conflicting interpretations that have been proposed for alternations of different
types of limestone. Of the two interpretations, Fischers appears the more probable in
the light of modern knowledge of algal-flat and back-reef environments.
Fischer related the changing depth of water to eustatic control. Since there must
have been local tectonic subsidence to accommodate the sedimentary succession, this
interpretation was thought to be simpler than that invoking a complex set of local
epeirogenic movements, though the latter was not discounted. I t was tentatively
suggested that the oscillations of sea level might have had an amplitude of up to 15 m
and a periodicity of between 20,000 and 100,000 years.
Comparable cycles have been described from the Lower Muschelkalk of north-
west Germany by FIEGE (1938) .The cyclic sequence in its full development (composite
sequence) was described as follows:
Dolomitic limestone, devoid of fossils.
Marl and marly limestone.
Fine-grained limestone with marine fossils.
Oolitic or skeletal calcarenite with marine fossils.
The cycles begin usually with a sharp contact with the underlying rock; they
are best developed in the central part of the Muschelkalk Basin. Most range in thick-
ness between 2 and 6 m.
In developing his interpretation Fiege discussed whether the calcarenites signify
deeper or shallower water than the fine-grained rocks. He favoured the first alternative
because the sequence up the cycle is the same as that laterally towards the old shoreline.
The dolomitic limestone hence signifies extreme shallowing and probably lagoonal
conditions unfavourable to animal life. This interpretation is clearly close to Fischers.
Unlike Fischer, however, Fiege attributed the changes in water depth to epeirogenic
movements of the sea floor. It was pointed out that the asymmetry of the cycles does
not necessarily imply an equivalent asymmetry in the tectonic control, since the sharp
break at the base might signify a phase of slow deposition or erosion. One can make a
similar observation about the Lofer cycles.
Limestone-dolomite cycles in the Lower Ordovician of Maryland, with features
similar to those in the central European Triassic, have been described by SARIN (1962).
Sarin recorded thirty five cycles in a 43 m section; his ideal (composite?) sequence is as
follows:
Pisolitic limestone.
Algal limestone (with stromatolitic structures).
Massive structureless calcilutite.
Mottled limestone.
Massive structureless dololutite.
Laminated dololutite.
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 163
Sandy dolomite.
Intraformational dolomite conglomerate.
The ideal sequence diverges from Sarins typical sequence insofar as the
pisolitic limestone unit is developed in only two of the thirty five cycles. The dolomite
conglomerate normally overlies limestone of the previous cycle with a sharp contact,
whereas the dololutite passes up to the overlying limestone by means of a gradual
transition. Only the limestones are fossiliferous and only the dolomite beds contain
appreciable quantities of detrital quartz.
Sarin believed that the rocks were deposited in a shallow marine basin similar
to the Bahama Banks. The limestones were deposited in conditions of normal water
circulation. Uplift of the sea bed led to limited erosion and influx of detrital quartz.
The increased shallowness together with the rise of sills restricted circulation and
resulted in the formation of unfossiliferous laminated dolomite, which was considered
a primary precipitate. Gradual subsidence led eventually to a renewal of normal
circulation and the further deposition of limestone.
I t seems clear in all the examples discussed that the rocks were laid down in very
shallow water and highly probable that the dolomitic beds formed in a shallower
regime than the limestones. The dolomite is characteristically fine-grained and confined
to particular horizons and thus of the sort often termed primary. Bearing in mind
modern research on dolomite formation in the Persian Gulf, the Caribbean and the
Bahamas (DEFFEYES et al., 1965; ILLING et al., 1965; SHINN et al., 1965) it seems likely
that it formed by the early diagenetic replacement of aragonite in a hypersaline
supratidal regime. Abnormally high salinity rather than loss through diagenetic re-
placement is the likely cause of the rarity or absence of fossils.
CYCLES COMPOSED OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS
Minor cycles
Regular cyclic alternations of shale (and/or marl) and fine-grained argillaceous lime-
stone, of the order of a few decimetres per cycle, are a common feature of many
shallow water marine successions but their detailed study has been largely neglected.
An exception to this is the Blue Lias Formation at the base of the Lower J urassic in
southern England and Wales, which has received considerable attention over many
years and has been the subject of a long-standing controversy (HALLAM, 1964a). I t
will accordingly be considered here in some detail.
The limestone bands are composed of argillaceous calcilutite mostly 5-30 cm
thick and are separated by mark and shales of a somewhat wider range in thickness.
Though shelly fossils are generally abundant, there is no doubt that the variations in
calcium carbonate content are not due to variations of shell content. The dispute has
been whether the cycles are original sedimentary features or products of diagenesis.
There now appears to be evidence favouring both interpretations to some degree.
164 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
.............. ...
I ......................... I
..........................
..........................
..........................
..........................
----I- I ..........................
4
z
4
c
0
1
..........................
..........................
.........................
.........................
' 0 -
/
. . . . . . . . . . . .
I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . *I
A
Fig.63. Diagrammatic illustration of Blue Lias minor limestone-shale cycle in its fullest expression in
Dorset, A. Before compaction and diagenesis. B. After compaction and diagenesis. Density of stippling
inversely proportional to carbonate content; laminated shale indicated by horizontal ruling. (After
HALLAM, 1964a)
The strongest single piece of evidence favouring a sedimentary origin is the
mottling of many rocks, well seen in the classic section on the Dorset coast, as a result
of the burrowing activities of various organisms which have produced a number of
distinct trace fossils. Lighter, more calcareous rock is seen to penetrate downward into
darker, less calcareous rock and vice versa (Fig.63). The fine preservation of trace
fossils can only be due to the original deposition of alternating layers of lighter, more
calcareous, and darker, more argillaceous mud.
Supporting evidence comes from the presence at certain horizons in Dorset of
thin bands of finely laminated bituminous shale. These bands differ sharply from the
other sediments in their fine lamination and comparatively poor and small-sized
benthonic fauna (ammonites, bivalves, ostracods) which tend to occur in paper-
thin layers in the midst of shale which is virtually barren of all but fish fragments. These
rocks must have been laid down in anaerobic or near-anaerobic bottom waters, in
contrast to the vast majority of limestones and marls embracing them. Now these
shales occur characteristically between successive limestones and marls and tend to be
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 165
less calcareous (Fig.63). The location of such distinctive bands in the midst of typical
cyclic units is held to constitute good evidence for primary origin.
A further point, which is less conclusive but has an important bearing on the
mode of origin, is the extraordinary lateral constancy of many limestone bands.
There are several lines of evidence suggesting that at least part of the cyclic
sequence owes its origin to segregation of calcium carbonate during early diagenesis.
A number of limestones have a concretionary aspect and sometimes pass into
bands of ellipsoidal nodules symmetrical about planes of bedding. There are also
indications of a secondary accentuation of the contrast produced by a primary
variation of sedimentation. As illustrated diagrammatically in Fig.63 the dark rock
( 1) penetrating down into the limestone bands is generally harder and more calcareous
than the overlying marl (2), and the light-coloured rock (3) immediately below the
limestones, softer and less calcareous than the latter. This suggests some migration of
calcium carbonate both upward and downward toward the limestones, so increasing
the sedimentary contrast. The Blue Lias limestones in Dorset average about 85 %
CaC03 and the marls about 35 %. There is a little evidence suggesting that segregation
may account for a quarter of the calcite present in the limestone today (HALLAM,
1964a).
Perhaps a more decisive line of evidence favouring large-scale segregation is as
follows. The thickness of the alternating sedimentary units tends to remain constant
regardless of the thickness of the rock succession. The thicker the succession the more
limestone beds it contains in proportion. This may be clearly seen by reference to
Fig.64 and 65. The loss of limestone units in thinner successions cannot be attributed
to the intervention of non-sequences since there is good palaeontological control. I t
seems that the thickness of many limestone units is controlled by some factor inde-
pendent of the original conditions of deposition and that a regular cyclic alternation
may in some cases be produced entirely by segregation.
The occurrence of what SUJKOWSKI (1958) has termed rhythmic unmixing
during diagenesis may be far more widespread than has been assumed hitherto and is
equally relevant to cyclic alternations of bands of limestone and chert, where there
may be clear evidence of diagenetic mutual replacement. The process poses a number
of problems but these will not be pursued here since they are not strictly relevant to
cyclic sedimentation.
Rhythmic unmixing at least relieves the embarrassment of having to account
for numerous small-scale but significant alterations in lithology in a sedimentary
regime suggestive of slow sedimentation and tectonic stability. This is probably an
important reason why climatic variations have been suggested as a controlling factor
for this type of cycle (e.g., GILBERT, 1895; ZIEGLER, 1958).
A smaller number of sedimentary alternations have nevertheless to be accounted
for.
It is assumed that the calcium carbonate was precipitated from sea water either
inorganically or through some organic agency (HALLAM, 1964a). Because of the lack of
well-studied modern analogies it is very difficult to decide between several alternative
8 0 -
70
60
5 0 .
c
2 4 0 .
L
c
._
w
; 30-
c
Y u
c
._
I- 20-
10-
Conybeari Subzone
x Planorbis Zone
-
-
xT
XD
* Y
*D *S
EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
*C
x c
I * s ,
10 2 0 30 4 0 5 0 60
Number of limestones
Fig.64. Correlation of number of Blue Lias limestones with overall thickness in given successions;
D = Dorset; T = Tolcis, Devon; S = Somerset; G = Glamorgan; Y = Yorkshire. (After HALLAM,
1964a.)
- Clamorgan
--- Dorset
Inches
Fig.65. Thickness of Blue Lias limestones in Dorset and Glamorgan. Explanation in text. (After
HALLAM, 1964a.)
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 167
explanations and the following suggestions are only tentative. To consider only the
more plausible explanations, fluctuations in the rate of calcium carbonate precipitation
could result from slight changes in water depth or temperature, while the amount of
terrigenous clay could vary with humidity or tectonic activity on the land. If the
cyclic variations were the result of pulses of terrigenous sedimentation superimposed
upon a background of steady calcium carbonate precipitation one would expect to
find the proportion of clay increasing towards the old shoreline. This is the reverse of
the situation in southern England and Wales. Moreover, tectonic or climatic pulses
on the land might be expected to produce coarser sediments than in the Blue Lias. Of
the remaining alternatives, periodic changes in water depth are preferred provisionally,
because some of the lateral variations in calcium carbonate content seem too pro-
nounced to be accounted for purely by climatic change. For instance, the Glamorgan
Blue Lias close to the old shoreline is both thicker and more calcareous than else-
where, suggesting a higher rate of carbonate precipitation in shallow coastal waters.
A similar type of cyclic sequence that has been described in detail occurs in the
Upper J urassic of southwest Germany. SEIBOLD (1952) undertook a chemical study
of a 120 m profile containing some 460 beds of alternating fine-grained limestone and
marl. The calcium carbonate content, which is evidently the only inorganic component
that varies appreciably, ranges from 46 to 96 % but in the bulkofthemarlsrangesfrom
65 to 80 % and the limestones have a mode at 85 %. The mean limestone-marl fluctu-
ation is in fact only 13 %, and the terms limestone and marl acquire a relative
significance in some instances, being determined essentially by depth of weathering
compared with adjacent beds (Fig.66, 67). These cycles are evidently more calcareous
than those in the Blue Lias but otherwise similar in most respects. Nevertheless only a
primary origin was considered.
Seibold thought that the cycles were produced by periodic variations of calcium
carbonate precipitation against a constant background of clay deposition. In
support of this it was pointed out that this facies suggests very quiet conditions of
deposition, not of the type to be expected in an environment where numerous pulses
of sediments were being brought in from the land. The fine preservation of ornament
on Foraminifera in the marly Lettenlagen was held to rule out appreciable loss of
calcium carbonate by solution in the less calcareous beds.
In a further study, on the relationship of foraminiferal and carbonate content of
these beds (SEIBOLD and SEIBOLD, 1953), it was noted that the density of Foraminifera
per unit volume of matrix declines with increasing carbonate content (a similar rela-
tionship, with macrofossils, has been discerned in the Blue Lias; HALLAM, 1960). This
was attributed to a slower rate of sedimentation of the clays. Assuming the cycles
are primary we can suggest the alternative explanation that the mark may have suffered
more compaction than the limestones.
I t was further claimed that a few foraminiferal species were sensitive to calcium
carbonate content. I t appears, though, that, while there may be a rough correlation,
the samples were taken not from successive beds but were chosen at larger intervals,
so that it is hard to judge the relevance of these data to the mode of origin of the cycles.
168 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, 1
ZIEGLER (1958) has made a detailed stratigraphical study of Upper J urassic
rocks of this facies in southwest Germany and his work complements Seibold and
Seibolds in a highly satisfactory way. Ziegler has been able to correlate in great detail
over wide areas and has demonstrated a remarkable constancy of horizon of individual
beds. In discussing the mode of origin of the cycles Ziegler tentatively preferred a
climatic to a tectonic control, with the marls reflecting more humid or cooler phases.
Unlike Seibold he did not rule out periodic impulses of terrigenous sedimentation.
Nothing in the descriptions given by Seibold or Ziegler excludes the possibility
that the cyclic sequence under discussion owes its origin wholly or in part to diagenetic
segregation. Suggestive in this respect is an observation by Ziegler that thinning of
a group of beds corresponds usually with a reduction in the number of component
units, just as in the Blue Lias.
Further European examples of this type of cycle are given by LOMBARD (1956).
SPRENG (1953) has described an example from the Mississippian of Alberta.
SCHWARZACHER (1964), for his time-series analysis of a limestone-shale sequence
in the Lower Carboniferous of northwest Ireland, assumed without discussion
that the sequence was primary in origin. He came to the conclusion on the basis of his
statistical analysis that the small-scale fluctuations, i.e., between thin bands of lime-
stone and shale, originated from truly cyclic changes in the environment which might
have had an astronomical control. As Schwarzacher failed to give petrographic details
it is difficult to judge whether the possibility of diagenetic segregation can be confident-
ly excluded. If not, there is a danger that the statistical results may be meaningless in
the context of sedimentation control.
Fig.66. Chemical characteristics of limestones and mark in Upper Jurassic cyclic sequence at NeufIen,
Germany. Above: relative amounts of marl and limestone. Carbonate content of individual beds
given as percentage. Limestones: hollow squares. Below: absolute amounts of clay and carbonate.
Clay fraction in cm: white and black ornament. Carbonate: lined ornament. Total thickness of bed
given by clay and carbonate fractions together. (Adapted from SEIBOLD, 1952.)
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 169
A
CARBONATE CONTENT
OF INDIVIDUAL BEDS
Fig.67. Carbonate content of individual beds in Neuffen profile (see Fig.66), showing overlapping of
compositional curves for limestones and mark. (Adapted from SEmom, 1952.)
A very different type of cycle from those discussed above is that in which
variations in the quantity of calcium carbonate in a clay sequence are produced largely
or entirely by calcareous fossils. Good examples in the Oxford Clay (Callovian) of
Peterborough in southeastern England have been well described by BRINKMANN (1 929).
The cycles, which range up to about 1 m in thickness, may be expressed thus:
Sharp boundary (denoting a considerable pause in sedimentation).
Pavement of lamellibranch and ammonite shells, often overgrown with encrust-
Comminuted shells, coarsening upwards.
Greenish shale.
Brownish shale, with green mottling in the upper part.
Greenish shale.
The brownish shale is highly bituminous (organic carbon content about 9 %),
the greenish shale somewhat less so (3.3 % C).
The brownish shales are poorly fossiliferous, containing only benthonic bivalves
known to tolerate poor aeration (Nuculu) and others which might have been planktonic
ing oysters.
170 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
(Posidonia, Pseudomanotis). These obviously anaerobic or near-anaerobic beds alter-
nate with shell beds containing a variety of benthonic bivalves and ammonites. This
small-scale alternation of aerobic and anaerobic deposits recalls that in the Blue Lias.
BRINKMANN (1929) related the cycles to local epeirogenic movements of the sea
bottom. The shell beds marked periods of increased current action in shallower and
better aerated water, the bituminous shales periods of deeper, stagnant water.
FUCHTBAUER and GOLDSCHMIDT (1 964) has recently described rather similar
cycles of bituminous shale and shell beds in brackish-water WeaIden beds (straddling
the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary) in northwest Germany but did not commit
himself on an interpretation.
Though not strictly relevant to epicontinental sedimentation it is convenient
here to consider an important case of cyclic sedimentation on the deep sea floor.
Investigation of sediment cores from the east Pacific (ARRHENIUS, 1952) has revealed
that the calcium carbonate content varies cyclically from less than 30 to more than
60 %. The thickness of the cycles ranges mostly between 0.25 and 1 m and correlation
between cores shows that it varies laterally. The cycles extend back at least into the
Pliocene, the average carbonate content increasing and the cycle amplitudes decreasing
with age.
The cycles are apparently the result of fluctuations in calcium carbonate rather
than clay. The carbonate is entirely organic in origin, being composed of coccoliths
and planktonic Foraminifera. According to Arrhenius the cycles have ultimately a
climatic origin. During the glacial periods of the Pleistocene the rate of circulation
of deep water was probably higher and hence more calcium carbonate was dissolved.
But this was more than counteracted by a considerable increase in the rate of pro-
duction of plankton including lime-secreting organisms because of an increased rate
of upwelling in areas of ocean current divergence. Hence the glacial phases in the
sediments, stratigraphically determined, are the more calcareous.
There has been a general tendency to equate glacial periods with reduced pro-
duction of calcium carbonate (KUENEN, 1950). This belief was influenced by investiga-
tions in the Atlantic Ocean. Conditions evidently vary according to regional circum-
stances. Where the rate of dissolution exceeds the rate of production or where the
latter decreases during unfavourable life conditions for lime-secreting plankton the
concentration of carbonate on the sea bed will be diminished. In the Atlantic it
seems that the inflow of polar bottom waters has played a bigger role than in the
Pacific.
Major cycles
Somewhat different problems are posed by certain limestone-shale cycles of the order
of a few metres to a few tens of metres in thickness. These may themselves include
minor cycles of the type just described.
An example of such cycles will be taken from the Pennsylvanian of the south-
western United States. From the entirely marine succession of this region WANLESS
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 171
Fig.68. Major limestone-shale cycles in Lower and Middle Jurassic of Lorraine. The Greek letters
refer to Liassic stage boundaries (see text), the irregular lines to erosion surfaces (with borings) and
the crosses to coral masses. (After KLUPFEL, 1917.)
and PATTERSON (1952) briefly described cycles ranging in thickness from about 10
to 30 m. The limestones are of varied lithology, ranging from oolites and skeletal
limestones (biosparites) to algal and dense, fine-grained limestones. The sparry lime-
stones were thought to have formed above wave base, which allowed fine mud to be
winnowed away, and the dense limestones, marls and shales below wave base, in
quieter water. The changes in depth of sea implied by this were referred to some sort
of eustatic control.
It will be recalled from an earlier section in this chapter that the alternation of
fine-grained and coarse-grained sparry limestones can be interpreted in several ways
but Wanless and Patterson gave no data to support their own contention. As there is
no discussion on the point, it is not clear that they were even aware of the alternatives.
Moreover, no convincing evidence of eustatic control was put forward, since no detailed
correlation between widely separated sections was attempted.
A paper of outstanding importance in this connection was published many
years ago by KLUPFEL (1917) on cycles in the Lower and Middle J urassic of north-
eastern France (Lorraine). The cycles contain three major units which may be termed
clay (at the base), marl and limestone. They are asymmetrical in the sense that the clay
rests with sharp contact on the underlying limestone but passes up gradually into more
calcareous rocks (Fig.68).
The basal clay is comparatively poor in fossils, which consist characteristically
of thin-shelled bivalves such as Nuculu and Nuculunu and ammonites. The more
I72 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
fossiliferous marl contains subordinate layers of argillaceous limestone and limestone
nodules, whose proportion tends to increase upwards, producing a facies resembling
the Blue Lias. The limestone unit is often fine-grained and compact, but may be
coarser-grained, exhibiting cross bedding (e.g., oolite in the Dogger). The most charac-
teristic fossils are thick-shelled bivalves such as Ostrea, Trigonia, Cardinia and Astarte.
Corals and brachiopods may occur, and echinoderm debris is common, but ammonites
may be rare if the rock is calcarenitic.
The upper boundary of the cycle is frequently marked by an erosion surface
(certain Dogger cycles may show more than one such surface, see Fig.68). This is
characteristically encrusted by oysters and other invertebrates and bored by bivalves;
there can be no doubt that such surfaces were hardened soon after deposition. They
correspond to the hardgrounds of European authors. The clay overlying the erosion
surface often has a basal layer of derived limestone fragments, sometimes with a
ferruginous surface, encrusted by oysters, serpulids and bryozoans and bored by
bivalves. There may also be derived fossils. Another common feature of this
basal layer is the abundance of phosphorite nodules, some of which appear to have
been derived from the underlying limestone.
Two other important points should be mentioned. If detrital quartz is present,
it tends to increase in size and quantity up the cyclic succession. There is an intimate
correlation between the ammonite sequence and the sedimentary cycles, with the
cyclic boundaries normally marking sharp breaks in the sequence. As examples of
cyclic boundaries KLUPFEL (1917) cited those between units in the old German strati-
graphic classification such as Lias a, j3, y, 6 and E, which correspond to ammonite
stages or substages.
Kliipfel interpreted the facies change up the cyclic succession as due to shallow-
ing of the sea, with the erosional features of the limestone ccroofbed (Dachbank)
signifying emergence. He thought that this shallowing could not be explained merely
by sedimentary infilling, since this would be inadequate to account for the amount of
shallowing implied by the facies changes (some cycles are only a few metres thick).
Sedimentary infilling need only be seriously considered where thick sandstone wedges
enter the succession, suggesting a possible deltaic influx. Hence the shallowing was,
like the subsequent deepening, attributed to local epeirogenic movements of the sea
floor. These tectonic movements were supposed to be asymmetrical in time, gradual
uprise being followed by comparatively sudden subsidence. This was proposed to
account for the evident asymmetry of the cycles.
This epeirogenic interpretation, and the intimate correlation with ammonite
zones, has been supported by workers on the German Lias (FREBOLD, 1925; HEIDORN,
1928; SOLL, 1957). FREBOLD (1925) was the fi st to point out the considerable lateral
extent of certain distinctive roof bed^" (in the Sinemurian).
Cycles of the type KL-FEL (1917) described have also been recognised in the
British Lias (HALLAM, 1961). As Kliipfel himself noted, a givenunitin the sequence may
be missing locally, but there is no doubt that his scheme provides a valuable frame-
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 173
work for the study of changes in the vertical succession. Departures from the ideal
are discussed in detail in HALLAM (1961).
A few points may be added to Xliipfels generalised description. When finely
laminated bituminous shales, signifying anaerobic conditions, occur, their charac-
teristic position is close to the base of a given sedimentary cycle. This point is well
exemplified by the famous group of such beds in the Lower Toarcian known variously,
according to region, as J et Rock, schistes cartons, Posidonienschiefer, etc. Such
shales appear to be relatively shallow-water deposits, contrary to what has been
widely assumed in the past (HALLAM, in preparation). The phosphatic horizons at
the base of a complete cycle are also normally rich in glauconite, a further pointer to
slow deposition.
While these Liassic cycles are not so impressive in their development as some
of those in the Carboniferous, they possess the incomparable advantage of ease of
long-range correlation by means of the abundant ammonites. Zones and sometimes
even subzones can be correlated generally without difficulty over the whole of north-
west Europe. The study of lateral facies vanations over vast areas that is rendered
possible by this means provides a very powerful control on the interpretation of
Klupfelian cycles.
An important point in Kliipfels interpretation is the alternation of deposition
in a shallow sea and erosion just above sea level. Though a careful study of limestone
roofbeds leaves little doubt that consolidated rock was subjected to erosion and organic
incrustation, there is some debate as to whether such erosion necessarily signifies
emergence above the sea. JAANUSSON (1961), for example, has argued cogently in
support of this notion, with special reference to similar widespread discontinuity
surfaces in the Lower Palaeozoic of Sweden. He pointed out that such surfaces, which
may have phosphatic or ferruginous staining, are commonest close to old shorelines
as deduced from general palaeogeographic considerations, and that exposure above
sea level leads to rapid cementation and corrosion of recent carbonate sediments
whereas this does not occur in those that remain submerged. There does not in fact
seem to be any known mechanism whereby superficial layers of carbonate sediment
may be rapidly consolidated on the sea floor.
Against this line of argument it can be pointed out that there are now known to
be many areas swept by strong currents even on the deep sea floor where erosive
forces appear to predominate over depositional, and HOLLMANN (1964) has recently
described evidence of penecontemporaneous corrosion of limestones, including
obviously hard ammonite shells, in the Ammonitico Rosso Superiore (Upper Jurassic)
of Italy; this facies is usually considered on a variety of grounds to have been deposited
in fairly deep water and it appeared to Hollmann unnecessarily extravagant to invoke
a major lowering of sea level for each corrosion surface. Presumably compaction some
distance below the sediment surface played an important role in consolidation, with
the hardened surface subsequently being exhumed and corroded.
As regards the Liassic discontinuity surfaces, slight emergence above sea
174 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
level poses no serious difficulty, since the varied facies are indicative of deposition in
shallow water, perhaps never more than a few hundred feet in depth and usually much
less.
Although emergence seems the most likely explanation for the more striking
erosional horizons at least, it is nevertheless not necessary to assume this in claiming
that the different deposits composing the cycles were laid down in different depths of
water. Evidence based on lateral facies variations does support, however, the belief
that the roofbeds were formed in shallower water than the other deposits, and this
is after all the significant point at issue. I n the first place, such beds are often extremely
widespread, and rock sections hundreds of miles apart may show almost identical
features. A particularly striking example is the top of the Obtusum Zone, which is
marked in southwest England by a bored and encrusted calcilutite, in eastern France
by a bored limestone, in southwest Germany by a calcilutite containing bored
calcilutite pebbles and in Lower Saxony by a similar bed. Elsewhere there is a strati-
graphic gap between this and the overlying zones. In the face of this sort of evidence,
which is not atypical, it seems unconvincing to argue that erosion of consolidated
limestone is local and random with respect to depth, being merely related to varying
current strength (cf. ALDINGER, 1957). In the second place, the interpretation that
erosion of roofbed followed by shale deposition signifies deepening of the sea, however
slight, is supported when the facies varies laterally to an appreciable extent. To
persist with the same example, the Obtusum Zone in the English north Midlands is
represented by a limonite oolite giving clear indications of deposition in shallow,
agitated water (HALLAM, 1963b). The oolite terminates exactly at the top of the zone,
and is sharply overlain by smooth shales of the next zone, which must in this case
signify deeper water (Fig.69).
s. w.
ENGLAND
I - - I
Oxynot um
Ob t usum
_ _ - -
- _ -
I - - I
N.
MIDLANDS
\
0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 P
0 0 - 0
W.
SCOT LAND
-R \- . . A - - - :.
. ..
.. . ..
. . ..
. . .
Turncri
Fig.69. Lateral facies variations at the Lower and Upper Sinemurian boundary in different parts of
Great Britain.
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 175
Barry- Lavcrnoe k
c----l
Southerndown
CAR
RHAETIC
Calcilutitar
x x Skeletal
Calcarenite
#Shales
Fig.70. Lateral facies variations in the Hettangian and Sinemurian of South Wales; near-shore facies
at Southerndown, off-shore facies at Barry and Lavernock.
We must next turn to a consideration of the depth relationships of the limestones
and shales. Limestone beds of various ages have often formed by default if terrigenous
sedimentation was diminished and it is not unusual for palaeogeographical analyses
to show that strata become progressively less calcareous and more argillaceous towards
old shorelines. Hence near-shore shales can signify shallower or at least equally shallow
water conditions. On the other hand the precipitation of calcium carbonate is facilitat-
ed in shallower, warmer water and one may expect some calcareous facies to mark
shallower water conditions than shales. Although the former situation is valid for the
northwest European Lias when viewed regionally, e.g., comparing Yorkshire with
Dorset, it is believed that most limestone-shale cyclic sequences in a given region fall
into the latter category. This is supported by several lines of evidence.
Firstly, in passing towards land it is a common situation that the beds become
more, not less calcareous. This is not simply due to diminished terrigenous sedimen-
tation near the shore because the area has been by-passed by rivers, since the near-
shore deposits of Glamorgan and the Hebrides are both more calcareous and thicker
than average, and there is a greater proportion of oolites, skeletal calcarenites and
hermatypic coral limestones. These facts suggest a higher rate of calcium carbonate
deposition in shallower water. Fig.70 illustrates the point convincingly. In the near-
shore facies of Glamorgan, at Southerndown, skeletal calcarenite, with hermatypic
corals, is sharply overlain at the top of the Planorbis Zone by alternating thin bands
of calcilutite and marl. In the off-shore facies west of Cardiff, only a few miles away,
alternating calcilutite and marl are overlain at exactly the same horizon by argillaceous
beds. It is implausible to invoke strongly differential tectonic movements within such
176 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
a small area, and far simpler to accept that the sea deepened at both localities. Second-
ly, where the faunal evidence is relevant, it is consistent with the limestones being
deposited in shallower water (cf. KLUPFEL, 1917).
Finally, where a limestone-shale sequence can be traced into a sandstone-shale
(or oolitic ironstonelshale) sequence the sandstones or ironstones usually correspond
in age with the more calcareous strata. A good example is the Lias a-p transition of
the German classification, whichin Swabia and elsewhere is marked by a sudden change
to less calcareous fine-grained deposits, in Yorkshire and Skye from sandstones to
silty shales. An even better example is the change from Lias 6 to Lias E (Domerian to
Toarcian).
This last point, coupled with the evidence suggesting alternating phases of
erosion or deposition, effectively rules out any suggestion that the alternation of more
or less calcareous beds is the result of purely climatic variations, as for instance changes
in temperature. We are left with the alternative of changes in depth of water. Whether
or not this was controlled by local epeirogenic movements of the sea bottom, as
Klupfel and other German geologists have maintained, must now be discussed.
Regional facies variations in the Lias of northwest Europe may be referred to a
series of basins and swells, basins being areas of comparative downwarping, swells
consisting either of land margins or marine shoals, relatively resistant to subsidence.
These areas appear to have retained their tectonic distinctness throughout the Lias. A
survey of the successions in different parts of northwest Europe has allowed the re-
cognition of eleven stratigraphic units corresponding locally with Klupfelian cycles
(HALLAM, 1961). The most striking result of the survey was the recognition that facies
changes up the succession suggested that Klupfelian cycles are the local expression of
variations in depth of sea in the same sense over an extremely wide area, apparently
independent of the pattern of basins and swells. The changes appear to have been
essentially synchronous in most cases, as far as the ammonite evidence allows. These
facts suggest that the underlying control might have been the eustatic rise and fall of
sea level, superimposed upon local epeirogenic movements effecting differential subsid-
ence of the basins of deposition.
To establish beyond reasonable doubt the operation of eustatic control it is
necessary not merely to correlate likely changes of sea level at particular horizons. One
must also attempt to relate them to major transgressions and regressions which affected
different continents, thus firmly excluding the possibility of local tectonic control.
This is not an easy undertaking at present since welack fine stratigraphic detail in
most areas outside Europe. Furthermore, local epeirogenic movements can complicate
the picture, and the evidence for transgressions over swells may often have been
destroyed by penecontemporaneous erosion. Another point to be borne in mind is
that a change in sea level will not always have an appreciable effect on marine sedi-
ments, particularly, if, as envisaged in this case, such changes involved only a few
metres. Therefore one cannot expect marine successions at every locality to provide
supporting evidence.
One useful working rule can be proposed here to ameliorate this handicap. If,
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 177
considering a particular horizon, evidence of transgression or sea deepening at one
locality can be matched by evidence suggesting the opposite in another locality, then
one item of evidence cancels out the other and nothing can be deduced about possible
change in depth of sea. If, however, the second locality reveals no evidence favouring
either deepening or shallowing of the sea, then nothing can be deduced one way or
another. The case is progressively strengthened as evidence of transgression or
deepening accumulates over a wide area, if no contrary evidence is forthcoming.
Despite the type of practical difficulty outlined above there is already enough
evidence in several instances to make a convincing case for eustatic control of major
sedimentary cycles in the J urassic (HALLAM, 1963c, 1964b, 1965). The best example in
the Lias concerns the boundary between the Domerian and Toarcian. The Upper
Domerian Beds form the natural top of a major sedimentary cycle (ARKELL, 1933;
HEMINGWAY, 195 1) and consist of obviously shallow-water ironstones, sandstones and
limestones over most of northwest Europe; there may or may not be an erosion surface
at the top. These beds are generally sharply overlain by Lower Toarcian Shales, with
an extremely widespread band of bituminous shales in the Falcifer Zone. This change
is the clearest indication in the whole of the Lias of a deepening of the sea, and appears
to coincide more or less precisely with a major transgression in several continents (see
also Fig.71).
Accepting the likelihood of eustatic control in some cases, wemust now turn
back to the influence of regional epeirogenic movements on the sedimentation. It is
generally accepted that while the basins have been subject to more or less continued
downwarping the intervening land masses have undergone periodic uplift. In the
first place this may help to explain the comparative constancy of palaeogeography
throughout the Lias in Europe, with only limited transgressions for the most part
because uplift of the land would act in opposition to rise of sea level. Secondly, it
5.
Mendi ps Bath Sodbuq
N. SW. N.E.
Stloud North Cotrwoldt
UPPER lNFERlOR OOLITE
noRizoNTAL? MI LES
Fig.71. Diagrammatic section across southwest England to illustrate (a) Lower Toarcian (Junction
Bed) transgression and (b) diachronous sandstoneshale transition in Toarcian (Upper Lias). (Adapted
from KELLAWAY and WELCH, 1961.)
178 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I
may help to account for the characteristic asymmetry of Klupfelian cycles. At first
glance the abrupt transition at the top of a cycle from limestones or sandstones to clay
suggests a comparatively sudden deepening of the sea following gradual shallowing
(this is in fact what Klupfel himself proposed). However, subsidence of the basins and
their margins, where most of the deposition took place, would accentuate the change
due to eustatic rise. Moreover, the concomitant retreat of shorelines would probably
serve to reduce the supply of sediment from the land so that the early, transgressive
phase of a cycle should normally be signified by condensed beds. This seems in general
to be the case since, as already noted, the basal bed of a cycle is commonly marked by
abundant phosphatic nodules, glauconite grains and/or shell accumulations. The
ammonites often provide supporting evidence for slow deposition at this horizon.
Intracontinental uplifts should have strictly local effects on the sedimentation in
contrast to the more extensive though possibly milder results of eustatic movements.
Thus regional uplift became important in Britain only towards the end of the Lias, as
indicated by the diachronous sandstone formations in the Upper Lias of southwest
England (Fig.71) and the irregular and local pre-Bajocian warping and erosion in the
Midlands and Yorkshire where several ammonite zones disappear below the Dogger
within the distance of a few miles.
Sedimentary cycles showing many similarities with those described by Klupfel
also occur in the Lower and Middle Cretaceous (and less conspicuously in the top-
most J urassic) of the Helvetic Zone in Switzerland (FICHTER, 1934; BRUCKNER, 1951,
1953; CAROZZI, 1951).
Fichters account is admirably detailed and his interpretation carefully argued.
Some cycles pass up gradually from shales into limestones, others are more calcareous
and pass up from marly, fine-grained, thin-bedded limestones containing ammonites,
radiolaria and sponge spicules into skeletal echinoderm sparry limestones near the
top. The abundance of shell fragments and the grain size of detrital quartz also tend
to increase up the succession (Fig.72). The cycle boundaries (Zyklengrenzen) are
taken directly above the echinoderm limestones and are marked by thin bands rich
in glauconite and shelly fossils, which are sometimes phosphatised. Ammonites are
concentrated in and largely confined to these boundary beds. The cycles are asymmetric,
as in the Lias, with the basal beds beginning abruptly.
Fichter favoured a bathymetric interpretation. While he was not prepared to
commit himself firmly on the ultimate cause of the changes in depth of sea, he was
inclined to relate them to transgressions and regressions.
This is evident in the following passage quoted from FICHTERS paper (1934,
p.99): Die eigentliche Ursache, welche diesen tektonischen Bewegungen zugrunde
liegt, bleibt vorlaufig im Dunkel. Es diirfte jedoch dieselbe Ursache gewesen sein wie
die, welche die grossen Transgressionen und Regressionen hervorgerufen hat; die
Zyklengrenzen sind ja in vielen Fallen nichts anderes als kleine Transgressionen, und
in andern Fallen liegt wenigstens ihr Zusammenhang mit Transgressionen klar zutage.
Fichter noted that the Cenomanian marks the base of a new cycle and cited the well-
known Cenomanian transgression in support of his contention.
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 179
AGE OFAM~KJNITE STRATIGRAPHIC UNITS ROCK
DRUSBERG- MAXIMUM CRAl N SI ZE
I N THE
FAUNA AXENDECKE-
TEl LDECKE DRUSBERG-
TE I LDECKE
A T
E
E
2
.CYCLE BOUNDARIES ALPENRAND
Fig.72. Major limestone-shale cycles in Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous of the Helvetic zone, Switzer-
land. The grain-size data refer to detrital quartz. (Adapted from FICHTER, 1934.)
180 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVI RON"TS, I
A new technique was brought to bear on the problem by CAROZZI (1951). On
the basis of microscopic examination of samples taken at short intervals up the suc-
cessions at several localities, he produced curves of quartz frequency and other para-
meters. He was able to show that the amounts of quartz and the supposed pelagic
organism CaIpioneIIa vary inversely, the one increasing, the other decreasing up the
cyclic succession. The ratio of benthonic to pelagic organisms was also found to
increase up the cycles. The sequence, compact limestone-minor limestone-marl
alternations-marl-marly limestone-pseudo-oolitic and sparry limestone, was inter-
preted as one of decreasing depth of sea water. The minor limestone-marl alternations
did not show any corresponding variations in detrital quartz and were interpreted
not in terms of sea depth but variations in chemical equilibrium. This point was not
pursued at length.
BRUCKNER (1951, 1953) has argued in favour of climatic control of cyclic
deposition in the Helvetic Cretaceous, and was the first to take lateral variation serious-
ly into account. He divided the Helvetic Zone into northern, middle and southern
sectors (BRUCKNER, 1951). The major cycles range from a few metres thick in the north
to about 300 m in the south. The northern zone has a more condensed succession and
a higher proportion of limestone to marl and shale than the southern. In addition,
algae, thick-shelled bivalves, echinoderms, corals and benthonic Foraminifera are
dominant in the north, CaIpionelIa and pelagic Foraminifera are commoner in the
south, and the grain size of detrital quartz is larger in the north. These data were
interpreted as signifying that the northern zone was closer to the old shoreline. I t may
be noted that the facies relationships described by Bruckner compare closely with those
of the Lias (HALLAM, 1961). Some of the argumentation is similar too. For instance
BRUCKNER (1953) pointed out that if the cyclic changes under consideration were
caused by dilution of terrigenous material more argillaceous beds would be expected
towards the old shoreline, which is not the case.
Bruckner was also concerned with the origin of the small-scale limestone-marl
cycles, 5-100 cm thick, which he thought had a considerable bearing on the main
problem. They could hardly be due to depth changes, since the fauna was hardly
affected, despite the remarkably high variation in calcium carbonate content. Hence
they must signify temperature changes. One might here add parenthetically that this
interpretation also lacks plausibility, since temperature is known to affect animal
distribution profoundly. The difficulty may readily be overcome if it can be established
that these minor cycles are diagenetic in origin, as seems to be the case in much of the
Blue Lias, discussed earlier in this chapter.
Returning to the major cycles, Bruckner accepted that the limestones with
benthonic fossils were deposited in shallower water than the fine-grained marly lime-
stones and shales with CaIpionelIa, but argued that this was due to more rapid depo-
sition of calcium carbonate during periods of higher temperature, so that the basin
of deposition filled more readily. At times of lower temperature and colder water,
much less carbonate was precipitated and the sea deepened as the basin subsided. In
support of his belief that moderate temperature variations are the main cause of
CYCLES OF LIMESTONES AND ARGILLACEOUS BEDS 181
variations in the quantity of calcium carbonate in the rocks, Briickner made a
comparison with the shelf deposits off the eastern coast of the United States. Almost
pure carbonate deposits are found off Florida but the proportion of calcium carbonate
diminishes northwards until north of Cape Hatteras only negligible amounts are
deposited. It was argued, in view of these facts, that the major cycles in Switzerland
might have been an expression of the wandering of climatic zones involving a 5 "C
change of temperature, and the minor cycles changes of 2 "C or less.
There are a number of serious objections to Briickner's ideas, besides that
already noted. The more condensed major cycles of the sort under discussion, only a
few metres in thickness, embracing a wide range of facies but excluding sandstones,
are difficult to explain purely by the sedimentary infilling of an epicontinental marine
basin, as both Kliipfel and Fichter clearly appreciated. Climatic controlfails, moreover,
to account for the feature of condensation in the glauconitic boundary beds.
Briickner's modern analogy is weak because it totally fails to take into account
a significant variable, namely the influx of terrigenous matter from rivers along the
American coast. The deposits around Florida and the Bahamas are calcareous partly
because of the warm climate but principally because no major drainage system empties
its sediment into the area. The region around the Mississippi delta has, after all, a
comparable latitude, and it would be absurd to argue that the increasingly terrigenous
nature of the coastal sedimentation westward from Florida signifies decrease in temper-
ature.
Briickner's principle objection to the ideas propounded by Carozzi and others
seems to be that in the sort of stable shelf regime exemplified by the Cretaceous of the
Helvetic Zone it is implausible to invoke periodic strong oscillations of the sea bottom.
There is some merit to this objection, which would, however, lose its weight if it
could be shown by means of correlation over wide areas that these Cretaceous cycles
are controlled, as Fichter hinted, by eustatic changes of sea level.
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Chapter 7
EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
CYCLES WITH SIGNIFICANT QUANTITIES OF SANDSTONE, IRONSTONE AND PHOSPHORITE:
MINOR CYCLES WITH BITUMINOUS LAMINAE
In this chapter we shall deal with a wider variety of lithological types than in the
previous chapter. Generally speaking they are of subordinate importance to Iimestone-
shale cycles.
CLAY-SANDSTONE-LIMESTONE CYCLES
The best-known cycles composed of sequences of argillaceous, arenaceous and
calcareous deposits, such as those in the late Palaeozoic of northern England (Yore-
dale facies) and the mid-continent region of the United States, are dealt with fully in
Chapters 4 and 5, since they have generally been regarded as indicative of oscillating
marine and continental environments. The few other examples discussed here may be
dealt with most appropriately under the heading of epicontinental marine environ-
ments.
In his classic work on the J urassic System in Great Britain ARKELL (1933)
observed that as long ago as 1822 Conybeare and Phillips had remarked on the regular
manner in which clay is followed by sandstone and the latter by limestone in the so-
called Oolitic sequence. Arkell went on to elaborate this tripartite scheme, dividing
almost the whole of the J urassic in southern England into major cycles. His scheme is
given below, with the clay, sandstone and limestone units signified by capital letters:
Portland Stone (L)
Portland Sand (S)
(9) Kimmeridge Clay (C)
Westbury Ironshot Oolite (L)
Sandsfoot Grit ( S )
(8) Sandsfoot Clay (C)
Osmington Oolite, etc. (L)
Bencliff Grit, etc. (S)
(7) Nothe Clay, etc. (C)
184 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
Berkshire Oolite (L)
Lower Calcareous Grit (S)
(6) Oxford Clay ( C)
Kellaways Rock (L)
Kellaways Sand (S)
(5) Kellaways Clay ( C)
Cornbrash
Main Forest Marble Limestone (L)
Hinton Sand, etc. (S)
( 4) Bradford Clay, etc. ( C)
Great Oolite Series (L)
Stonesfield Slate beds ( S)
(3) Fuller's Earth (C)
Inferior Oolite Series (L)
Upper Lias Sands ( S)
(2) Upper Lias Clay (C)
Marlstone Rock-bed (L)
Middle Lias Sands (S)
( I ) Middle Lias Clay (C)
Lower Lias clays, etc.
I t is easy to criticise aspects of this scheme as an example of cyclic sedimentation.
As Arkell himself freely admitted, there was no question of clay, sandstone and lime-
stone being deposited over the whole area simultaneously. No lithological details are
given, distinguishing, for instance, different types of limestone. Distortion is involved
equating major formations like the Oxford and Kimmeridge Clay with minor and
local units like the Sandsfoot Clay; the Marlstone consists of sandstone and ironstwe
besides limestone, and so on.
Nevertheless one cannot disagree with Arkell that there is a striking overall
periodicity involved, phases of widespread deposition in very shallow water (oolites,
coral limestones, sandstones) being interrupted by phases of deeper water (clays and
subsidiary argillaceous limestone). Arkell followed the Germans in attributing these
oscillations to periodic epeirogenic movements of the sea floor. We may note, however,
that the beginnings of cycles 2, d (best taken together with the much thinner and less
conspicuous cycle 5) and 9, all suggesting widespread and pronounced deepening of the
sea, correspond with important worldwide transgressions and hence signify eustatic
control (HALLAM, 1963~). The same may be true of others of Arkell's cycles.
CLAY-SANDSTONE CYCLES 185
Another example where the cycles are major stratigraphic units, ranging up to
several hundred metres in thickness, comes from the Upper Pliocene and Pleistocene
deposits of Wairarapa, New Zealand (VELLA, 1963). Vella gave the following as a
typical marine cycle, together with his interpretation:
(Disconformity) shallowing culmination.
Sandstone with shell beds shallowing.
Sandy mudstone with scattered fossils deepening culmination.
Sandstone with shell beds deepening.
Coquina limestone deepening.
(Disconformity) shallowing culmination.
Vella attempted an estimation of depth of deposition based on known distribution
of modern relatives of the contained fossils, and concluded that the cycles were ex-
pressions of depth changes ranging from about 50 to 160 m. These were in phase at
least over half of North Island and, allowing for local tectonic disturbance, glacio-
eustatic control was proposed.
To conclude this section an instance of a minor cyclic sequence will be cited
from the Rhaetian in southwest England (HAMILTON, 1962). In the Cotham Beds (for
example) four cycles can be distinguished, about a metre in thickness, with the follow-
ing characteristics: ( I ) a basal calcareous horizon, above which there is usually a
gradual reduction in the amount of carbonate, (2) shell or sand beds, or ripple lenticles,
most common near the base of a cycle but which decrease in frequency upwards,
and (3) an increase in the proportion of clay upwards in each cycle. Hamilton consider-
ed that the basal bed of each cycle was deposited under conditions of greatest current
and/or wave action, with a gradual reduction of energy input from the environment
as the cycle progressed. Such conditions were thought to be related possibly to relatively
small oscillations of the strand line. I t is interesting to note, as Hamilton pointed out,
that these minor cycles occur within a Rhaetian sequence which itself forms a good
example of a cycle of Kliipfelian type.
CLAY-SANDSTONE CYCLES
As in the previous case, it is difficult to find many cited instances in the literature of
clay-sandstone cycles in stable shelf regimes which do not involve non-marine deposits.
Infact, both of the examples which will be considered here pass laterally into non-
marine beds within short distances. They are nevertheless most appropriately dealt
with here.
Major marine and non-marine units of the Eocene of the Anglo-Franco-Belgian
Basin (STAMP, 1921) interfinger diachronously as indicated diagrammatically in
Fig.73. The marine part of the sequence tends, in its fullest development, to show the
sequence: basal gravel-sand-clay-sand-gravel. The gravel may be only poorly develop-
ed or absent, but the plane of erosion between the marine cycle and the underlying
beds is almost invariably well marked. To give a specific example, the London Clay
186 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
2 -.
OLIGOCENE
%I I,
LOWER HEADON BEDS 1-
BARTON I AN
LEDlAN
LUTETIAN
BAGSHOT ' SANDS 7- -7
YPRESIAN
REA DI NG, BEDS 1
Fig.73. Major cycles in t& Lower Tertiary of the Hampshire Basin. Stippled areas represent marine
beds, unornamented areas hon-marine beds. (After STAMP, 1921 .)
in the Hampshire Basin begins with thin sandy pebble beds and passes up into silty
clay; the top is sandy once more. This succession is thinner and sandier in the west,
where it is interrupted by non-marine beds. The thickness of the London Clay cycle
varies from nearly 100 m in Whitecliff Bay to 70 m in Alum Bay. Thin intercalations of
gravel within the clay were not regarded by Stamp as marking minor cycles. Stamp
was able to demonstrate the essential contemporaneity of major cycles within the
whole area considered. They were related to periodic transgressions and regressions
of the sea, with the clays signifying deeper water conditions than the sands.
Cycles very similar to those just described also occur in the Tertiary deposits of
the Gulf Coast Region of the United States (BORNHAUSER, 1947; LOWMAN, 1949;
FISHER, 1964; and Table XXIX). Gulfwards the deposits pass from a fluvial and
lagoonal facies into an argillaceous marine facies. The cycles occur where marine
clays are intercalated between marginal marine and continental arenaceous beds.
Fisher (1964) has given a detailed account of cyclic deposits in the Eocene. His
transgressive phase of a given cycle consists of sands and marls overlain by so-called
restricted or marginal marine clays. These are laminated and have an apparently
dwarfed fauna of thin-shelled bivalves. This phase overlies a basal condensed unit,
marking a transgressive marine disconformity, rich in glauconite, phosphorite pebbles,
reworked fragments and shark teeth.
The inundutive phase (Bornhauser's term) marks the maximum advance of the
sea and is characterised by normal argillaceous beds. Fisher's regressive phase has a
basal arenaceous unit (fluvial or marginal marine) and an upper argillaceous-
carbonaceous unit (mostly lagoonal or flood plain) in the northern Gulf Coast Region.
These strata pass into entirely marine beds southeastwards.
Fisher recognised five cycles in the Claibornian of Alabama but only one in the
IRONSTONE-BEARING CYCLES 187
J acksonian (cf. Table XXIX). The thickness of the marine phases in this region rarely
exceeds 30 m while the non-marine phases may be much thicker.
While there appears to be general agreement that these Tertiary cycles in both
Europe and North America result from the advance and retreat of the sea, no-one
seems to have considered that such oscillations might have been the local expressions
of eustatic movements until HALLAM (1963a) pointed out that the major transgressions
and regressions in the two regions appeared to coincide in time, at least to the degree
of refinement indicated by such age designations as end-Palaeocene and Middle Eocene.
kn this connection it is noteworthy that the basal transgressive beds appear to be
condensed, giving an overall asymmetry to the cycles which compares with the
Mesozoic limestone cycles discussed in the previous chapter. Another point of com-
parison is that the laminated shales, most likely anaerobic deposits, occur in the lower
part of the cycle.
IRONSTONE-BEARING CYCLES
One of the major problems in sedimentary geology concerns the origin of the banded
ironstones or itabirites found in the Precambrian of every continent (GEIJ ER, 1957;
J ONES, 1963). Though most abundant in the Late Precambrian, where they compose
formations up to 450 m in thickness (SAKAMOTO, 1950) they also occur less commonly
in the Archaean and Palaeozoic. We are not concerned here, however, with the general
problem of iron enrichment but with the nature and origin of the cyclic alternations
between chert on the one hand and one or more iron-bearing minerals (silicates,
carbonates and oxides) on the other.
Specific examples will be taken from the famous deposits of banded ironstone
in the Huronian of the Lake Superior region in North America, considered to have
been laid down in a restricted marine environment (JAMES, 1954). One common type
of banding consists of regular alternations of chert and siderite averaging 1 cm in
thickness. Stylolites are common and slump structures not rare. A more spectacular
rock is the jaspilite of the Marquette Range, composed of alternations of reddish
jasper and grey haematite typically 0.25-1.25 cm thick. These layers may themselves
be laminated, with laminae about 0.025 mm thick. The bedding is wavy rather than
straight and individual layers show pinch-and-swell structure.
Parts of the succession are oolitic, both in the chert and haematite, though oolitic
structure is more obscured in the latter lithology. A notable feature of the various
types of banding is the remarkable constancy of individual horizons.
J ames was primarily concerned with the general environment of deposition and
the conditions governing the formation of various iron minerals and did not address
himself to accounting for the banding. Sakamoto, however, dwelt on this subject at
length in a general review of Precambrian ores (SAKAMOTO, 1950). He developed an
ingenious hypothesis treating the banding as annual. A monsoonal climate was pro-
posed, with alternating wet and dry seasons. During the wet season, it was argued, acid
conditions would have prevailed in the weathering regime, allowing iron to migrate in
188 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
TABLE XXIX
MAJOR CYCLES IN THE TERTIARY OF THE GULF COAST OF THE U.S.A.
(After FISHBR, 1964)
Lithology Formation Group Cycle
Mississippi Louisiana Phase
Sand, shale, lignite Catahoula + post-Catahoula Pliocene Regression
Dark shale ? ? Miocene Inundation
-. -.
Chickasawhay L.
Byram Marl
Limestone, marl, Marianna L. Vicksburg Vicksburg Transgression
shale Forest Hill/ (Oligocene)
Red Bluff
V
Grey shale, marl Yazoo J ackson Shale J ackson Inundation
Marl, Moodys Branch Moodys Branch (Eocene) Transgression
VI
glauconitic sand
Sand, grey shale, Cockfield Cockfield
lignite
Dark shale Cook Mountain Cook Mt. Shale Clayborne
Limestone, shale, (Wantubee) Cook Mt. L.
(Eocene)
- _ _ _ _ ~
sand
Regression
--
Inundation 111
Transgression
Sand, shale, lignite Sparta (Kosciuska) Sparta Regression
Dark shale Zilpha Cane River Shale
Glauconite sand, Winona Tallahatta Cane River Marl
marl, shale,
glauconite sand
Inundation I1
Transgression
~~
Sand, shale, lignite Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox (Eocene) Regression
Dark shale Porters Creek Inundation I
Marl, calc. shale Clayton Transgression
Midway Midway
UPPER CRETACEOUS
IRONSTONE-BEARING CYCLES 189
solution, whereas silica would remain behind as insoluble material. Conditions would
have been reversed in the dry season. SAKAMOTO (1950) considered that the banded
ores were deposited in lakes. Iron hydroxide would have been precipitated in alkaline
waters in the dry season, with the pH varying from 9 to 5. J ONES (1963) has also pro-
posed that the primary control involved was pH (in contrast to the Eh control of
different iron minerals, as J ames argued). Sakamoto thought that banded ironstones
were formed only during a period in the Precambrian under conditions which have
never recurred since.
A major difficulty in Sakamotos interesting hypothesis is the assumption of
striking changes in pH at frequent and regular intervals. They would be remarkable
even in lakes, but it is highly questionable whether the Precambrian banded ironstones
formed in lacustrine environments. JAMES (1954, p.243) has argued cogently for marine
conditions in the case of the Lake Superior ores, and the wide lateral extent of such
deposits in different parts of the world is more readily explicable on this assumption.
I t is well-known that sea water is a well-buffered chemical system, with pH varying
only between narrow limits (about pH 7.6-8.1).
The problem therefore remains. Perhaps the possibility of a diagenetic control
of the banding should be explored, as in the case of some small-scale cycles in lime-
stone, shale and chert (see Chapter 6). KREJCI-GRAF (1964, p.485) has argued, for
instance, that the cause of the banding might have been processes of solution and
precipitation within the sediment due to periodic or episodic changes of Eh in con-
nection with the rhythm of sedimentation of organic matter.
There seem to be one or two pointers towards a hypothesis of diagenetic un-
mixing in James description of the Marquette jaspilites. The bands are themselves
laminated, and where oolitic structure occurs it evidently ignores the banding, occurring
in both lithologies. It is true that J ames argued for the primary origin of the chert, but
the evidence he put forward (remarkable lateral constancy, stylolites and chert
veinlets cutting bands, slump structures involving chert) is not decisive and the so-
called primary chert could be accounted for by diagenetic migration fairly soon after
deposition.
A totally different type of cycle involving ironstone has been described from the
Lias of Yorkshire, England, by HEMINGWAY (1951). Three major cycles were dis-
tinguished. The best developed corresponds with the Toarcian and is about 100 m
thick. Following silty grey shales at the base come finely laminated dark brown
bituminous shales of the J et Rock. These pass gradually upwards into fine grey shales
and thence via silty shales into fine-grained sandstone (Fig.74). At the top of the cycle
in Rosedale are a few metres of sideritic chamosite oolite. Another cycle corresponds
almost exactly with the Domerian, shales passing up via sandstone into shales with
nodules of siderite mudstone and thence into chamosite oolite (Cleveland Ironstone).
The third cycle is taken to embrace almost the whole of the Lower Lias, but in this case
a regular sequence is not apparent and the relationships of the different lithological
units are more complex than Hemingway assumed.
Hemingway interpreted the cycles as resulting from tectonically-induced vertical
Iu1
STRATA
Rosedale Ironstone
Blea Wyke Beds
Striahitus Shales
Peak Shales
Alum. Shales
The Hard Shales
The Bituminous Shale;
Jet Rock
The Grey Shales
Cleveland Ironstone Series
The Sandy Series
1
Shales with ironstone
concretions
Shales wi th hard
sandstones
Shales with occasional
shell limestones
EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
SUB STAGES
' TOARCI AN
DOMERI AN
CAR I X I A N
5 I NEMUR I AN
HETTANGIAN
-
5 0 0 feet omitted
J R
Grey qrccn shale
Black shale RHAETIC
Fig.74. Major cycles involving ironstones in the Liassic succession of Yorkshire, with interpretation of
relative depth of deposition of the different facies. (After HEMINGWAY, 1951 .)
movements altering the local depth of sea. Based on a comparison with recent deposits
in the Black Sea, a gradual shallowing was deduced up the succession (Fig.74). It
was presumed that the topographically subdued land masses which bordered the
Liassic sea were subjected to deep chemical weathering in a warm humid climate.
Ironstone was formed in small, shallow restricted arms of the sea only after the cessation
of mechanical erosion at an advanced stage of peneplanation.
Certain aspects of Hemingway's hypothesis may be criticised, for instance the
dubious assumption that sand and clay were derived from different sources, and the
claim that each of these marine cycles corresponds with a cycle of erosion on the land.
Nevertheless the general interpretation in terms of changing depth of sea in a special
chemical environment seems reasonable. I t is interesting in this connection that a
PHOSPHORITE-BEARING CYCLES 191
cycle very similar to that in the Toarcian of Yorkshire is present in rocks of the same
age in northeastern France (THEOBALD and MAUBEUGE, 1943), while the Domerian
cycle and the major change in depth of sea between Domerian and Toarcian is rec-
ognisable over a much wider area than Yorkshire (HALLAM, 1961).
Further examples of cyclic sedimentation involving ironstones were described by
REID (1965) from the Precambrian of Yampi Sound, Western Australia. Two types of
cyclic variation are distinguishable. In individual beds, often less than 3 cmthick, there
is a textural gradation from a predominance of haematite at the base to a predominance
of quartz at the top. Reid compared this with graded bedding, with the difference that
the variation here is expressed by the specific gravities of two different minerals rather
than grain size.
In addition to this there is a regularly repeated cycle, from about 10 to 40 m
thick, of haematite-rich, schistose and quartzose beds. Within a succession of 17 such
cycles a few lithological phases are missing locally but no phase occurs out of position.
The Yampi iron ores were considered to be clastic sediments but the origin of the
cyclic sequence was not discussed.
PHOSPHORITE-BEARING CYCLES
Although many sedimentary cycles deposited in shelf seas contain layers of phosphatic
nodules we are concerned here with deposits containing thick beds of economically
exploitable phosphorite.
One of the best-known sequences of such deposits is the Permian Phosphoria
Formation of western Wyoming and neighbouring states. SHELDON (1963) has rec-
ognised two major cycles in these deposits, ranging from about 20 to 60 m in thick-
ness. The idealised (composite?) sequence, not completely present at any one locality,
is as follows:
The underlying sequence in reverse order, i.e., 11 passing up to 1.
(11) Dark carbonaceous mudstone.
(10) Dark pelletal phosphorite.
(9) Dark dolomite.
(8) Light-coloured bioclastic phosphorite.
(7) Bedded chert.
(6) Nodular or tubular chert.
(5) Interbedded light-coloured bioclastic limestone and calcareous sandstone.
( 4) Light-coloured dolomite and dolomitic sandstone.
(3) Light-coloured mudstone.
(2) Red beds.
( I ) Conglomerate overlying erosion surface.
These various units were considered to be approximate time-rock horizons and
represent transgressive and regressive phases of areally zoned depositional environ-
192 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
ments. The erosion surface and conglomerate mark the phase of maximum regression,
the dark mudstone maximum transgression. Lateral facies variations (Fig.75) support
this interpretation, with land lying to the east and deep water to the west. Sheldon
stated that the cycles tend to be skewed towards the base, with the upper half of the
sequence being more fully developed.
This suggested to Sheldon that the transgressions took place more rapidly than
the regressions, but we may note that transgressive-regressive cycles are frequently
asymmetrical in this way, with transgressive phases being marked by comparative
condensation of the sedimentary sequence, and do not necessarily signify asymmetry
intheunderlyingcontrol (see 178p.). Sheldon thought that the cycles, which extend over
a very wide area, were the result of tectonically controlled fluctuations in depth of sea.
MINOR CYCLES WITH BITUMINOUS LAMINAE
A common feature of many marine bituminous shales, siltstones and limestones is a
fine lamination consisting of layers of organic matter alternating regularly with mineral
matter. BRADLEY (1931) seems to have been the first to suggest that the organic-
mineralic couplets corresponded to a years deposition and hence were true varves.
Bradley studied several examples, from the Genesee Shale (Devonian) of New York,
the Hannibal Shale (Mississippian) of Illinois, the Hartshorn Sandstone (Pennsylvanian)
of Oklahoma and the Modelo Formation (Miocene) of California. The mean varve
thickness ranged from 0.025 mm in the Modelo Formation to 0.40 mm in the Genesee
Shale. Unlike glacial lake varves the mineralic layers showed no signs of graded
bedding, hence rendering unlikely an origin by selective settlement from suspension
in the sea water.
The dark organic layers were thought by Bradley to represent autumn or winter
settlement of dead plankton, such as diatoms and dinoflagellates, following intensive
summer growth in the surface waters, a phenomenon that has been observed in certain
large lakes. It was thought unlikely that successional phases of organic productivity
in spring and summer would give more than one sharply defined layer each year. In
fact it is now known that there may be several blooms of diatoms each year, with
corresponding deposition more than once in the year, but the supernumerary layers
can usually be recognised as such (DEEVEY, 1953).
Direct support for Bradleys principal contention, that the couplets are annual,
comes from work on recent deposits. The deposition of sediment in the Clyde Estuary
in Scotland was studied over a period of several years by H. B. MOORE (1931), who
was able to show that each year correlated with the formation of a thin, peaty layer
not more than 2 mm and a light band from 3 to 7 mm thick. Apparently the silica of
the diatoms, composing the bulk of the organic matter, was quickly dissolved, so
that all trace of organised structures disappeared at an early stage. This observation
may heIp to account for the evident lack of structure in similar fossil deposits. Further
confirmation comes from the work of SEIBOLD (1958) on euxinic sediments in an isolat-
MINOR CYCLES WITH BITUMINOUS LAMINAE
193
Light-
Car bonat e co o r ed Red Precycle
Phosphati c
Shal e Cher t Rock Mudstone
BJ ,::\\\\\ El . * ..
W
Sout heast er n Idaho
Cent r al Wyorni n9
I
A
PERIOD OF INITIAL SEDIMENTATION OF CYCLE AND OF MAXIMUM REGRESSION
B
C
PERIOD OF MAXIMUM TRANSGRESSION
D
PERIOD OF MAXIMUM REGRESSION
Fig.75. Interpretation of the formation of major cycles involving phosphates in the Phosphoria
Formation of Wyoming. (After SHELDON, 1963.)
194 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
ed bay in the Adriatic. He recognised fine laminations in the deepest part of the bay,
with laminae averaging about 0.25 mm. These could be proved by historical events
and seasonal variations to be annual deposits. Seibold considered that the light layers
were deposited in summer and the dark layers, rich in organic matter and iron sulphide,
throughout the remainder of the year.
Two further examples of laminated recent sediments attributed to an annual
cycleare the black euxinic muds in the Black Sea (ARCHANGELSKY, 1927) and diatom-
rich clays in the Santa Barbara Basin off southern California, also deposited in con-
ditions of oxygen deficiency (HULSEMANN and EMERY, 1961).
Taken together with the evidence from similar deposits in lacustrine environ-
ments (NIPKOW, 1928) there seems to be good empirical support for Bradleys ideas,
even though there is no general agreement as yet on the exact time of deposition of the
organic-rich layers. Evidently the possibility of more than one phytoplankton flowering
in the year does not seriously distort this picture.
Recently, in a study of diatom-rich varved sediments from the central Gulf of
California, CALVERT (1966) has produced evidence to suggest a radically different
mode of origin. While phytoplankton production is reasonably constant throughout
the year, river discharge varies greatly in different seasons. The varves in this case
are therefore attributable to an increased sedimentation rate as a result of summer
floods.
The term varve may be ascribed with confidence to the type of minor cycle
under discussion. On the other hand, indiscriminate use of the term for laminated
sediments of a variety of other types (e.g., KORN, 1938) is to be discouraged.
I t seems highly probable that organic-mineralic varves can only form under
anaerobic or near-anaerobic conditions. If oxygen is available in abundance in the
bottom waters benth0ni.c organisms rapidly destroy the fine lamination and the organic
matter is oxidised (cf. CALVERT, 1964). Though such varves may form at any depth
they are most likely to be common where organic productivity is high, namely in
shallow coastal waters and shelf seas or in areas of upwelling.
A number of examples of lamination interpreted as fossil marine varve deposits
has been described, in addition to those already mentioned. The oldest so far re-
corded occur in the Precambrian Nama Limestone in South West Africa (KORN and
MARTIN, 1951). Fine lamination in the limestone is composed of couplets of lightish-
coloured calcite bands and organic-rich quartz bands. Calcite precipitation was
evidently the principal control on variations in thickness. Bituminous shales occurring
in the Blue Lias of southern England are seen in thin section to consist of alternations
of layers of dark reddish-brown structureless organic matter ranging from 9 to 17p
in thickness, and clay-calcite layers from 16 to 25p thick (HALLAM, 1960). Some of the
intervening limestones are also laminated, with individual laminae being much thicker
(average 0.23 mm) because of the greater abundance of calcite.
North American examples include, besides those cited by Bradley, laminae
from 0.1 to 0.2 mm thick in the Miocene Monterey Formation of California (BRAM-
L E m, 1946) and laminae in the Upper Cretaceous Beds of the Black Hills region
MINOR CYCLES WITH BITUMINOUS LAMINAE 195
THE VARVED CLASt l C-ORGANIC-EVAPORITE CYCLE
ANNUAL LAMlNATlONS STRATIGRAPHIC FORMATION APPROXIMATE CLIMATE
CYCLES (diaqrommatic) SECTION TIME REQUIRED
FOR DEPOSITION
2- FOLD
CYCLE
clartic
and
w s u m
ndrtona
COOL WARM
OR I OR
WET DRY
\
(erriron
ormation
I
Fig.76. Minor cycles (varves?) in the Jurassic Todilto Formation of New Mexico. (After R. Y. AN-
DERSON and KIRKLAND, 1960.)
(RUBEY, 1930). Rubey actually distinguished three types of lamination, grading into
each other and averaging about 0.2 mm in thickness, only one of which showed a
variation in content of organic matter. The others consisted of alternations of calcite
and quartz silt and of silt and clay. All three types were attributed to annual climatic
cycles of unspecified type.
R. Y. ANDERSON and KIRKLAND (1960) have described limestone varves from
the J urassic Todilto Formation of New Mexico which have three components. The
thickest consist of limestone bands variable in thickness but averaging 0.13 mm (Fig.76).
They were considered to have been deposited in summer, in conditions of higher
temperature, evaporation and/or photosynthetic activity. The organic layers, described
as sapropel, are more constant and average 8,u in thickness. They contain subordinate
196 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I1
10-
5 -
Fig.77. Amplitude spectrum of Upper Devonian Ireton Shale varves. (Adapted from R. Y. ANDER-
SON and KOOPMANS, 1963.)
fragments of vascular plants and were regarded as autumn-winter layers resulting
from plankton mortality. The third component is detrital quartz sand, intermittent
but persistent areally. This is most probably a winter deposit, both wind- and stream-
borne.
Varved deposits possess a special interest for those who hope to detect the past
MINOR CYCLES WITH BITUMINOUS LAMINAE 197
existence of solar cycles of varying magnitude. The eleven-year sunspot cycle is by far
the most well-known (KORN, 1938; R. Y. ANDERSON, 1961) but a number of others of
greater period has been claimed from a variety of data. Sunspot cycles are supposed to
affect the weather and hence ultimately the thickness of tree rings and varves. Thus
increased precipitation of rain results in the thickening of the clastic component of
organic-silt varves in certain Russian lakes (SHOSTAKOVICH, 1936). Temperature
variations may affect the thickness of chemical precipitates.
The subject of climatic cycles and their influence on sedimentation will be dealt
with separately in the last chapter. We are concerned here only with the detection of
thickness periodicity within varve sequences in non-evaporitic marine deposits. A
number of attempts has been made to detect such periodicity in varves of all types
by personal estimations of abnormal thickness, but these have been insufficiently
objective to be convincing. Statistical techniques such as power spectrum or time
series analysis are available for more rigorous analysis and should be used wherever
possible in this type of study in an attempt to separate noise of a stochastic nature
from genuine non-random signals (see Chapter 1).
SEIBOLD and WIECERT (1960) undertook a type of sequential Fourier analysis
of the Adriatic varves described by the first-named author in 1958 and recognised
weak periods close to 6,8, 11 and 14 years throughout the sequence. R. Y. ANDERSON
and KOOPMANS (1963) made power and amplitude spectrum analyses of several ex-
tensive varve sequences. They found, for instance, that varves in the Upper Devonian
Ireton Shale of Alberta (R. Y. ANDERSON, 1961) registered a significant peak at 22
years with both techniques, while the amplitude spectrum analysis revealed lesser
peaks at 1 1 + , 12 + , 8 + and 6 + years (Fig.77). R. Y. Anderson and Koopmans also
analysed a varve sequence in the Nama Limestone, using data from KORN and MARTIN
(1951). A strong long-term trend was not obvious, though a weak peak at about 100
years was present, overshadowed by stronger peaks near 25 and 12 years. A cluster of
high peaks occurs at about 6-8 years, with other peaks at 3.7 and 2 years.
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Chapter 8
EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I11
EVAPORITE CYCLES
Given a climate in which evaporation exceeds precipitation, evaporite deposits may
form in continental environments such as lakes but there can be no doubt that the
major evaporite deposits of the past were precipitated from sea water. Though the
environments of deposition can be classed as epicontinental, water depth need not
invariably have been shallow, as we shall see when the origin of certain small-scale
cycles is discussed.
The origin and distribution of evaporite deposits is fully discussed elsewhere
(BORCHERTand MUIR, ~~~~; B R A I T SCH, 1962; LOTZE, 1957; STEWART, 1963a). Attention
will be confined here to certain features of the basins of deposition having an important
bearing on the origin of the cyclic sequences to be considered later.
STEWART (1963a) has distinguished two types of depositional area. The first
type, exemplified by the northern European Zechstein Sea, has more soluble salts
towards the centre of the basin, signifying the existence of denser brine at depth.
The second type, exemplified by the back-reef Guadeloupian evaporites of the
Delaware Basin of Texas and New Mexico, has more soluble salts away from the
ocean connection, and signifies progressive brine concentration through evaporation
as sea water was drawn in towards the land.
It has been generally accepted that salt basins must have been partially isolated
from the open sea by some sort of sill or bar, in order to account for the brine enrich-
ment. Otherwise dense brine would tend to escape to the ocean by means of a counter
current. While most workers have thought of a physical barrier such as an organic
reef, sand bar or basefnent swell, SCRUTON (1953) has argued for a dynamic barrier
produced by friction between water bodies of different density, such as occur in the
Mississippi River; the effectiveness of this is increased by constriction of the channel.
Hence the barrier should be considered to be in a state of dynamic equilibrium subject-
ed to fluctuations in such factors as temperature, wind stress and sea level, all of which
will affect water density at a given location.
An iconoclastic note has recently been struck by ARKHANGELSKAYA and
GRIGORYEV (1960) in their study of the Lower Cambrian evaporite basin of the
Siberian Platform. They pointed out that while salt basins of the present day, such as
the Karabogaz Gulf, conform to the bar hypothesis, this was not necessarily always
true in the past, when, unlike today, extensive shallow epicontinental basins occurred
in arid belts. The two Russians constructed a theoretical model which made no use
200 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, III
of an offshore bar but assumed that sea water entering the salt basin was already
hypersaline, and went on to show how their predictions from this model conformed
with the actual distribution of various types of salt in the Siberian deposits.
SUGDEN (1963) concluded from a hydrological study of the Persian Gulf that
the bar theory was probably needed to account for the formation of potash salts in the
past but was not necessary for calcium sulphate or halite deposits. Extensive shallow-
ing would also reduce circulation in a large, partly isolated shallow sea, with resulting
precipitation of these evaporites.
Before we go on to consider evaporite cycles in the past it will be helpful to
take note of what is happening, and what has been happening, in Postglacial Time, in
the famous Karabogaz Gulf (DZENS-LITOVSKIY and VASILYEV, 196 1).
The Karabogaz Gulf is virtually an evaporating pan, 18,000 sq. km in area,
connecting with the Caspian Sea (which feeds it with water) by the Karabogaz Strait,
which is constricted by sand spits. The inflow of water through the strait is determined
solely by the height of the Caspian Sea level relative to that of the Gulf. This has fallen
almost 3 m in the last 30 years, due to a multiplicity of causes which need not concern
us. This has led to the concentration of surface brines in the Gulf, the highest brine
concentration being in the north and northeast, farthest removed from the strait.
Precipitation of salts naturally varies with brine concentration. In the so-called
intermediate zone of concentration halite and epsomite (MgS04.7 HzO) precipitate
in the summer, mirabilite (NazS04.4HzO) in the winter. A slight solution of salts
takes place in spring. A series of older beds occurs beneath the upper salt layer. They
consist of three layers of mlxed salts including halite separated by horizons of gypsi-
ferous carbonate oozes with a Caspian fauna. These fluctuations are related to cycles
of transgression and regression in Postglacial Time, the periods of transgression being
marked by the carbonate and the regressions by the mixed salts.
Before we deal with cycles dominated by evaporites, it will be convenient to
consider a number of cases in which evaporites are a subsidiary feature, these forming
a transition group between evaporite cycles proper and those cycles described in the
previous two chapters.
MAJOR CYCLES WITH SUBSIDIARY EVAPORITES
The term major in this context is meant to exclude those cycles measured in centi-
metres or millimetres. A characteristic feature is the rarity or absence of halite and
potash salts; evaporation has not usually extended beyond the stage of precipitation
of calciumsulphate (or the more soluble salts have been redissolved).
An important group of Late Palaeozoic cycles has come to light in recent years
as a result of the exploration for oil in the northern Great Plains region of North
America, including the Williston Basin of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota
and neighbouring states. These cycles are composed mainly of carbonates with sub-
sidiary shales and evaporites.
MAJOR CYCLES WITH SUBSIDIARY EVAPORITES 201
TABLE XXX
CYCLES IN OFF-SHORE AND NEAR-SHORE REGIMES
(After ANDRICHUK, 1951)
Off-shore limestone-evaporite cycle Near-shore ablomite-evaporite cycle
Dense or fossiliferous, fragmental
Brown, dense and saccharoidal
Anhydrite
Salt (rare)
Anhydrite
Buff and brown, dense
Green and brown, slightly argillaceous
Brown saccharoidal
Dense to sublithographic
Dense to crystalline, slightly fossiliferous
Fossiliferous, fragmental
Black, bituminous
Green and maroon
Grey and reddish grey
Red, brown, green
Argillaceous, silty
Dolomitic, shaly anhydrite
Brown and red
Green
Buff and brown, dense
Dense, slightly fossiliferous or
fragmental fossiliferous
A generalised account of Devonian cycles was given by ANDRICHUK (1951) who
distinguished idealised (composite?) sequences in off-shore and near-shore regimes.
These sequences are given in Table XXX, but no exact age equivalence of individual
units is implied by placing them side by side.
It will be seen from the above that the evaporites diminish, the carbonates
become dolomitic and the proportion of clastics increases in passing towards the old
shoreline. Andrichuk claimed that the carbonate-anhydrite cycles can be correlated
over several hundred miles.
Comparable cycles, with thickness of the order of a few tens of metres, were
described from the Devonian Manitoba Group of the Williston Basin by BAILLIE
(1955) although the lithological sequence was treated in a different way. The basal
beds are thin and consist of red and green shale. These rest with sharp contact if the
underlying beds are biohermal limestones, but are gradational if the topmost beds of
the underlying cycle consist of anhydrite (this is much commoner in the subsurface).
The shales grade up into argillaceous limestone, commonly finely laminated and
associated with dolomite, and thence into reefoid beds with corals and stromatoporoids.
Baillie confirmed Andrichuks claims of wide lateral persistence of cycles over the
basin.
Both Andrichuk and Baillie agreed that the evaporites signified periods when
the seas were restricted while the carbonates signified freer circulation of water. The
local influx of clastics related either to proximity of shorelines or to slight tectonic
movements on adjacent positive areas. The periods of restricted seas, when appropriate
climatic conditions led to excess evaporation, were thought by Andrichuk to have been
induced either by lowering of sea level or by upward movements in the area of reefs
to the north.
202 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, 111
Cycles not unlike the types described, and again of the order of a few tens of
metres thick, continue up into the Mississippian of the same region (FULLER, 1956;
ANDRICHUK, 1955).
Fullers idealised cycle is illustrated diagrammatically in Fig.78. Unit .4 consists
of a reworked weathered mudstone residue, sometimes containingmarkings resembling
rootlet impressions. I t was held to imply a subacrial surface. Unit B, the clear-water
phase of oolitic and algal limestone, contains marine fossils and marks a marine
transgression. Unit C, the argillaceous limestone with shaly intercalations, marks the
beginning of a regression, continued by the anhydrite of unit D. Seven such units are
recognisable in the Madison Limestone, with the evaporites dying out towards the
basin centre and exhibiting diachronous relationship to the shales.
Cycles in the Madison Group have also been considered by ANDRICHUK (1955).
To him the oolites signified extreme shoaling conditions, and the anhydrite followed
on naturally as the sea became progressively more restricted. As in the case of the
Devonian cycles, alternative explanations are possible. Either sea level changed
periodically or local areas rose through organic reef growth or tectonic movement,
influencing circulation in the whole basin.
Several other examples of shale-carbonate-calcium sulphate cycles have been
described from different parts of the United States. HAM (1960) recognised four such
cycles in the Middle Permian Blaine Formation of Oklahoma, each cycle being a few
metres thick. Ham gave the following as the composite sequence:
Green shale.
Red shale.
Gypsum (the thickest unit).
Dolomite.
The green shale contains hystricospherids indicating marine conditions and is
associated with the transgressive phase signified by the dolomite and the lower part
of the gypsum. Ham took the red shale to mark the phase of maxiniumregression(Fig.
79).
Fig.78. Idealised representation of major carbonate-evaporite cycles in the Madison Limestone of
Saskatchewan. (Adapted from FULLER, 1956.)
204 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, 111
The origin of these cycles was seen in eustatic rises and falls of sea level super-
imposed on regional tectonic movements leading to basinal subsidence. No inde-
pendent support was adduced for this notion however.
Shale-gypsum cycles in the J urassic Carmel Formation of Utah, ranging
considerably in thickness from 3 to 70 m, have been similarly related to transgressions
and regressions of the strandline, with gypsum being deposited in restricted, hyper-
saline conditions on the sea margin and signifying the regressive phase (RICHARDS,
1958). Similar cycles occur in the Triassic Moenkopi Formation of Arizona (McKEE,
1954).
Finally, certain cycles in the Upper J urassic Purbeck Beds of southern England
have been referred by SHEARMAN (1966) to so-called sabhka cycles of sedimentation
and early diagenesis. Based on a comparison with the Trucial Coast of the Persian
Gulf, he suggested an alternation of environments in which lagoonal sediments passed
up through intertidal-zone algal mats and thence into supratidal-flat sediments with
diagenetic calciumsulphate. Shearman went on to suggest that many other ancient
evaporites might have a similar origin, even some of those including potash salts.
CYCLES WITH DOMINANT EVAPORITES
Major and intermediate cycles
Symmetrical cycles including halite occur in the Pennsylvanian rocks of the Paradox
Basin, which extends from central Utah to the Four Corners region of the south-
western United States. HERMAN and BARKELL (1957) gave the following simple ideal
cyclothem from the Paradox member:
Limestone.
Dolomite.
Anhydrite.
Halite.
Anhydrite.
Dolomite.
Limestone.
The thickness of such cycles is of the order of tens of metres. An important feature
is the occurrence of black shales interbedded with the evaporites. These contain
conodonts, inarticulate brachiopods and plant remains. Laterally the cycles grade into
open sea limestones, and the vertical facies changes have their corresponding lateral
equivalents (Fig.80). The origin of this type of cycle will be best dealt with later in the
chapter, when better-known examples have been described.
The deposits of the Upper Permian Zechstein Sea in Germany and England
can be grouped into several major cycles of flooding and desiccation marked by alter-
nating units of evaporites with dolomitic carbonates and shales. Correlation between
the two countries is of necessity lithological and is based on the presumed time
CYCLES WITH DOMINANT EVAPORITES 205
Fig.80. Halite-bearing cycles in the Pennsylvanian of the Paradox Basin, western U.S.A. (Adapted
from HERMAN and BARKEL.L, 1957.)
equivalence of potash zones. Table XXXI is a simplified version of table XIX in
STEWART (1963a).
The correlation adopted by Stewart is that of LOTZE (1958). An alternative
correlation (STEWART, 1954) equated the three principle English evaporite cycles with
the upper three German cycles.
These major cycles are themselves composed of alternations of more and less
soluble salts, as can be seen from the table. These are sometimes sufficiently regular
to be considered as cycles of intermediate grade (measurable in metres rather than
tens of metres). STEWART (1963b), for instance, has subdivided the Lower Evaporites
at Fordon in Yorkshire into three cycles, the boundaries being marked by reversals
up the succession from more to less soluble salts.
Thus the lower cycle passes from basal carbonate to an anhydrite subzone and
thence to a halite-anhydrite subzone, with a subsequent reversal to another anhydrite
marking the commencement of the next cycle. The reversals in the sequence are all
relatively sharp, giving an overall asymmetry. This feature is not uncommon in the
Zechstein evaporite cycles. BORCHERT and MUIR (1964) note, for example, that in the
case of the Second Evaporite Bed in Lower Saxony there is a comparatively rapid
206
EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I11
TABLE XXXI
CORRELATION OF THE ZECHSTEIN EVAPORITE SEQUENCES OF ENGLAND AND GERMANY
-
Beds Hanover and Thuringia Whitby district, England
Approximative
thickness
(4
-
Oberer Zechsteinletten 5 Upper Permian marl up to 200
Grenzanhydrit und Top anhydrite 1
}I25
Fourth Tonmischsalz
evaporite Jiingstes Steinsalz
Pegmatitanhy drit
____
Jiingerer (Roter) Salzton 16 Salt clay 3
Upper halite
Upper Potash zone
porites Anhydrite
Carbonate
Tonbrecciensalz
Oberes jiingeres Kalilager
Third Oberes jiingeres Steinsalz I210 eva- [Lower halite 1 50
evaporite Unteres jiingeres Kalilager
Unteres jiingeres Steinsalz
Hauptanhydri t
-
Alterer (Grauer) Salzton Carnallitic marl 15
Decksteinsalz
Second Alteres Kalilager
evaporite Alteres Steinsaiz
Basalanhydri t
Upper halite
Anhydrite
~~
Hauptdolomit und
Stinkschiefer, mit Schlamm 1
Grundkonglomerate J lo
Upper magnesian
Limestone (marl in part) 50
Oberes mittlerer
First Zechsteinanhydrit
evaporite Altestes Steinsalz
Unter mittler Zechstein-
anhydri t
f Upper halite- 1
anhydrite
Lower halite-
anhydrite
Lower
Upper anhydrite
eva-
1
I up to 300+
I Lower anhydrite 1
Lower magnesian
Limestone, with some
anhydrite basal sands,
breccias, mark
Zechsteinkalk 4
Kupferschiefer 0.3
Zechsteinkonglomerat 2
CYCLES WITH DOMINANT EVAPORITES 207
transition upwards in the main basin from highly soluble salts through anhydrite to
clay.
The Permian evaporitic deposits of Texas and New Mexico occur in the Ochoa
Series which is divided into three formations, several hundred metres in thickness, the
Castile, Salado and Rustler (KROENLEIN, 1939; KING, 1948). The Castile Formation
consists predominantly of anhydrite and is confined to the Delaware Basin. Halite is
dominant in the overlying Salado, which also contains subordinate potash salts.
Deposits of this formation spread over a much larger area than the Castile, possibly
as a consequence of minor tectonic activity. The Rustler rests unconformably on the
Salado and marks a return to sulphate and carbonate facies. These formations may
be thought of as corresponding to major cycles in the Zechstein. Within them there
are numerous alternations of calcium sulphate and halite of the order of a few metres
thick, which may be compared with the intermediate cycles (ADAMS, 1944; Fig.81).
The cyclic sequences discussed above, including carbonates which are almost
certainly chemical precipitates, clearly signify periodic variations in salinity, ranging
from normal or slightly hypersaline water from which carbonates were precipitated
to highly saline brines from which the potash salts and complex chlorides came down.
Beyond this matter of general agreement, interpretation depends to some extent on
the nature of the environmental model preferred, namely whether one envisages a
basin restricted by a static or dynamic bar, or merely a shallow shelf sea with no bar
at all.
LOTZE (1957) and BORCHERT and MUIR (1964) favoured tectonic movements
of the bar zone as the controlling factor, in fact they did not consider any alternative.
Upwarping would progressively restrict marine circulation and hence induce con-
ditions of high salinity in an arid climate, while downwarping would lead to a return
of open sea or at least less saline conditions. The attraction of this hypothesis is that,
given the appropriate environmental framework, minor tectonic movements in a
ANhYDRlTE BANDED DOLOMITE
@ ANHYDRITE LIMESTONE
4 GYPSUM
Fig.81. Major evaporite cycles in the Permian of Texas and New Mexico. (Adapted from ADAMS,
1944.)
208 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, 111
restricted area could lead to extremely widespread changes in salt concentration and
precipitation. On the other hand there is no direct evidence of the existence of a
physical bar in the Zechstein Basin.
The changes accounted for by tectonic movements of the bar zone can be
accounted for equally by slight changes of sea level, and as direct evidence of this we
may cite the Postglacial sequence in the Karabogaz Gulf. Unfortunately it is difficult
if not impossible at present to obtain direct support for this hypothesis by means of
intercontinental correlations because of the paucity of good stratigraphical fossils.
There is, however, one suggestive point in favour of the eustatic hypothesis.
The asymmetry of certain cycles has already been referred to, a gradual upward
change towards increasingly soluble salts being followed by a comparatively rapid
return to less soluble ones. This has been held to signify the operation either of relatively
rapid subsidence of the bar (and presumably the basin) or the relatively rapid rise of
sea level followed by slower upward growth of the bar with or without fall in sea level
(F. H. Stewart, quotedin: HALLAM and WALTON, 1963). I n other words asymmetry of
the cycles implies a corresponding asymmetry in the controlling mechanism. We have
observed a comparable asymmetry in other types of marine cycle, in which it is clear
upon close examination that the transgressive part of the succession is more condensed
than the regressive part, and reasons why this should be so with changing sea level
have been discussed (seep. 178). The asymmetry of the evaporite cycles could perhaps
be explained in a similar way, the transgressive beds being the open sea carbonates
in the case of the major cycles or less soluble salts in the case of the intermediate ones.
(Entry of less saline waters into the depositional area could accentuate the asymmetry
by causing re-solution of precipitated salts). Hence if sea level changes were the under-
lying control, movements might well have taken place at similar speeds.
If the concept of a topographic bar is rejected in favour either of SCRUTONS
(1953) dynamic bar model or the hypothesis of ARKHANGELSKAYA and GRIGORYEV
(1960), then sea level changes provide the most plausible controlling mechanism.
Climatic control, involving variations in temperature or precipitation, seems less
likely for the following reasons. If atmospheric temperature increased over the basin
of deposition, increased evaporation would induce a correspondingly increased
compensatory flow from the sea, which would tend to counter increase in salinity. The
net result would probably be an increased thickness of a given salt precipitate rather
than a transition to a more soluble salt. If the climate became more humid, the addition
of fresh water to the basin from land streams would presumably increase, with the
consequent lowering of salinity. To have more than a local effect, however, in basins
as large as the Zechstein, the climatic change involved would have to be very great
indeed. While it is conceivable that there were indeed major changes in humidity and/or
temperature, related to the Late Palaeozoic glaciation, affecting the European and
North American Permian evaporites, we still have to account for major cycles in other
geological periods, and it seems more economical provisionally to prefer a mechanism
of either tectonic or eustatic control, where a minor change could have a considerable
effect on the sedimentary sequence.
CYCLES WITH DOMINANT EVAPORITES 209
Where salts alternate with clastic deposits the operation of climatic control
seems a distinct possibility. FLINT and GALE (1958) described Late Pleistocene sedi-
ments from Searles Lake, California, and were able to demonstrate by means of
radiocarbon dating that muds were deposited during a pluvial phase corresponding
with the Wisconsin Glaciation. These deposits are overlain by evaporites, which were
precipitated during the succeeding arid phase.
Minor cycles
Major and intermediate evaporite cycles are often seen to be themselves composed of
minor cycles which are measurable in terms of millimetres or centimetres. UDDEN
(1924) was one of the earliest to note their existence in his description of millimetre-
laminated anhydrite in the Castile Formation of Texas, but they have since been re-
corded from many different deposits. Apart from the Permian evaporites of the
Delaware and Zechstein Basins, for which there is a large literature, minor evaporite
cycles have been observed in the Upper Silurian of Michigan (DELLWIG, 1955), the
Upper Devonian of the Pripyat Salt Basin in the U.S.S.R. (SHCHERBINA, 1960), the
J urassic of New Mexico (R. Y. ANDERSON and KIRKLAND, 1960) and the Oligocene
of the Rhine Valley (BORCHERT and MUIR, 1964), and this list is far from exhaustive.
The cycles commonly have two components, but there may be as many as four,
as STEWART (1963b) has found in the Zechstein Lower Evaporites of Fordon, York-
shire. The wide range of possible lithologies has been well illustrated by LANG (1950)
for the Delaware Basin evaporites on the assumption that the laminae are seasonal
phenomena. The range of variation of mineral precipitates at different seasons is given
in Table XXXII. I t will be seen that no laminae would have formed when halite and
anhydrite were deposited both in winter and summer. The organic layers were taken
to mark the base of the cycles and considered to represent winter layers mainly.
TABLE XXXII
RANGE OF VARIATION OF MINERAL PRECIPITATES AT DIFFERENT SEASONS (DELAWARE BASIN)
(After LANG, 1950)
Place Layer Mineral precipitates1
Castile Summer layer C, Ca Ca A A A
Winter layer C, Ca C, Ca C, Ca Ca, A A
Salado Summer layer A A A H H H
Winter layer A M M, G M, G H S
1 C = organic matter; Ca = calcite; M = magnesite; G = gypsum; A = anhydrite; H = halite;
S = sylvite.
210 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I11
Besides the alternations of various types of chemical precipitate there may be
alternations of evaporites and clastic layers, as in the Top Anhydrite of the Yorkshire
Permian (STEWART, 1954). This could be a seasonal effect also, related to periodic
floodings by fresh water or periodic wind action blowing in dust from the land.
A noteworthy feature of the cycles is that they tend to be thicker the more soluble
the salt (potash salts apart). Thus RICHTER-BERNBURG (1960) noted that cycles in the
Linienanhydrit of the German Zechstein consisted of anhydrite units a few mm thick
separated by skin-thin layers of bituminous carbonate. The overlying cycles consist
ofanhydritebandsless than 1 mm alternating with halite bands 5-10 cmthick. A
similar result was recorded by ADAMS (1944). If it is assumed that the cycle periodicity
remained constant, as would of course be the case if they are annual, then it follows
that the more saline salts were deposited more rapidly, a result which is of course
consistent with our knowledge of sea water chemistry. STEWART (1963b) found that a
general upward increase in the proportion of halite in the Fordon Lower Evaporites
was proportional to an increase in the thickness of the halite layers. This was inter-
preted as signifying that the deposition rate increased towards the top of the succession
(Fig.82).
Another point of interest is the widespread lateral constancy of some minor
cycles. RICHTER-BERNBURG (1958, 1960, 1964) has claimed to correlate sequences of
minor cycles over distances of nearly 200 miles with such confidence that borehole
cores with only about fifty cycles could be located stratigraphically without difficulty.
HALITE- POLYHALITE-
ANHYDRITE
6440
u
"'4 ANHY:TE;FO,HAl,E, ,'y.,:! .
6eOO - ;
6760
2 0 40 bo m 100 120 140 ' 160' 180
TOTAL NUMBER OF LAYERS PER FOOT
Fig.82. Relation of small-scale layering to position in sequence of the middle cycle of the Lower
evaporites at Fordon, Yorkshire. The graph is believed to indicate relative rates of deposition. (After
STEWART, 1963b.)
CYCLES WITH DOMINANT EVAPORITES 21 1
There has been widespread agreement that minor cycles of the type described
result from climatic fluctuations, since tectonic or eustatic changes of the high
frequency implied seem implausible. Accepting a climatic control, the regularity of
thickness for a given lithological type in vertical succession suggests that many such
cycles are indeed varves (or J ahresringe in German literature) as they have common-
ly been called. The reality of annual climatic cycles is obvious and unquestioned,
un!ike any cycles of greater period, and recent deposits in Russian and American salt
lakes show annual layering (LOTZE, 1957). Nevertheless a sceptical note has been
sounded by some authorities such as BRAITSCH (1962) and LOTZE (1957).
One difficulty concerns the thickness of some anhydrite beds. The normal
thickness of less than 1 mm is unobjectionable for annual deposits, but not the beds
greater than 5 mm and even exceeding 20 mm. For the precipitation of 5 mm of an-
hydrite some 14 m of normal sea water or 4 m of calcium sulphate-saturated
sea water are necessary (BRAITSCH, 1962). The amount of evaporation implied seems
abnormally large if they are in fact varves. Again, assuming the fine banding to be
annual, it can be calculated that the German Altere Salzfolge was deposited at a rate
of 6 cm a year and as there are some 500 m of these deposits locally this would imply
an excessive rate of subsidence for an area of undoubted tectonic stability if the sea
were shallow all the time. The conclusion seems inescapable that, if the minor cycles
are annual, then the basin of deposition must have been deep originally (RICHTER-
BERNBURG, 1950).
We can perhaps agree with Lotze that only in the case of especially good
regularity and small thickness are annual cycles the most likely explanation. Abnormal-
ly thick anhydrite or halite bands could consist of several imperfectly separated varves
in a sequence of homogeneous lithology.
Explanations of the actual factors controlling the cyclic precipitation of various
salts are extremely diverse. ADAMS (1944), discussing the origin of calcite-banded
anhydrite in the Castile Formation, favoured a mechanism whereby a sand-dune bar
protected by organic reefs was alternately breached and sealed, probably seasonally.
The calcite was thought to be a summer deposit.
I n the cooler, wetter season the increased influx of river water would have
diluted brines, while increased evaporation in the summer might have allowed the
precipitation of more soluble salts. This process could account for cycles of thick
halite (summer) and thin clay-dolomite-anhydrite (winter) (BORCHERT and MUIR,
1964). Work on the bromine content of salts in two German mines suggests that periodic
dilution of brines by rain water might have been the significant factor in some cases
(KUHN, 1953).
However, it can be argued that seasonal effects are dependent on the temperature
coefficients of the solubilities of the various salts. As anhydrite is more soluble in
cold than in hot water it could represent the summer layer in anhydrite-halite varves
(STEWART, 1963a). STEWART (1953) also stressed this factor in discussing the origin
of alternations of anhydrite-magnesite and gypsum-halite in the English Zechstein.
Other presumed varves may involve alternating salt precipitation and solution.
212 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, III
Summer convection currents may produce mixing of brine layers and partial resolution
of the topmost bed. Hence many cycles have a clear-cut base (BORCHERT and MUIR,
1964). DELLWIG (1955) described interesting deposits in the Upper Silurian Salina
Salt of Michigan, consisting of layers of halite, 3-8 cm thick, alternating with tissue-
thin laminae of anhydrite and dolomite. The halite consists of two alternating varieties,
clear and cloudy. The latter contains minute gas bubbles and hopper crystals and was
thought to have been formed by the accumulation of surface-formed hoppers on the
bottom. Seasonal rise in temperature was presumed to lead to partial solution and a
subsequent fall to the recrystallisation of clear salt.
LOTZE (1957, p.203) has given another example involving possible periodic
solution. If a halite bed originally contained anhydrite and clay impurities, periodic
dilution of the solute, through either increased rainfall or river influx, might cause
solution of part of the precipitate. This could result in the formation of a thin layer
of insoluble residue. This interpretation could apply, for instance, to cases where the
anhydrite-clay layer has a completely smooth undersurface (e.g., in the Oligocene of
Alsace). Evidently the original irregular halite crystals have been rendered smooth
by solution.
Many of the mechanisms proposed for various sequences seem plausible enough.
No doubt a multiplicity of causes has operated.
EVAPORITE VARVES AND SOLAR CYCLES
The recognition of minor evaporite cycles as varves has inevitably stimulated some
geologists to seek evidence of greater periodicities marked out by slight thickness
changes, which might relate to solar cycles of varying period. Indeed, BORCHERT and
MUIR (1964), accepting published evidence for 1 1-year sunspot cycles in the Zechstein
deposits, have gone so far as to argue that this evidence is the most cogent reason for
believing that the laminated sediments are varves! To seek support for an annual
cycle by invoking something as controversial as the 1 1-year sunspot cycle seems rather
foolhardy.
The most enthusiastic and indefatigable supporter of solar cycles is Richter-
Bernburg who has, over the years, made some 40,000 varve measurements on halite-
anhydrite rocks and especially anhydrite-carbonate rocks in the German Zechstein.
He has also made briefer studies of Tertiary salt deposits from Sicily and Arabia.
Using a method of visual matching for correlation, and graphical plotting of the
composite sequence, he has claimed to find evidence of an 1 1-year cycle as the commo-
nest periodicity larger than the annual (RICHTER-BERNBURG, 1960). Weaker periods
were claimed of 22, 34 and about 45 years, which could be multiples of the 11-year
cycle (Fig.83). There are apparently differences relating to rate of sedimentation.
The rapidly deposited halite was said to reveal shorter periods more clearly while
the more slowly deposited anhydrite showed longer ones, minor anomalies being
suppressed. These longer periods were recognised by grouping varve means together
EVAPORITE VARVES AND SOLAR CYCLES 213
N
Depth ANObMLY DISTANCEIN VARVES Number of: ANOMLY DISTANCE
Fig.83. Frequency of appearance of evaporite varves of anomalous thickness in a sequence from the
Permian Zechstein deposits of Germany. Note the maxima at approximately 1 1. and 22 years. (Adapted
from RICHTER-BERNBURG, 1960.)
and tentative claims were made for 33.4, 95, 180-200, and 380400 year periods. It
will be noted that the last two are approximate multiples of 95.
Much as one must respect the industry which Richter-Bernburg has shown in
collecting much valuable data, it is a pity that he did not seek the assistance of a
mathematician to undertake some form of harmonic analysis, since his own technique
necessarily involves subjective judgement of which varves have anomalous thickness.
Until this is done one must share the scepticism of LOTZE (1957) and BRAITSCH
(1962) about the evidence for solar cycles. R. Y. ANDERSON and KOOPMANS (1963)
have, in contrast, undertaken both power and amplitude analyses from supposed
214 EPICONTINENTAL MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, I11
limestone and gypsum varves from the Upper J urassic Todilto Formation of New
Mexico, described by R. Y. ANDERSON and KIRKLAND, 1960 (see Fig.76). The analysis
was based upon the measurement of 943 sedimentary units and failed in fact to find
any evidence in support of an 1 1-year cycle, although there were a few weaker peaks,
most prominently at 180 years.
Chapter 9
FLYSCH
One group of sediments, in addition to varves, owes its name essentially to the repetitive
nature of the succession. This is theftysch of the Alps, so-called because of the tendency
of the beds to slip very easily over one another and to form unstable, easily erodable
ground. The movement is the direct result of coarse- and fine-grained beds alternating
with one another often through great thicknesses of sediment. The coarse-grained
beds are usually sandstones and the fine-grained shales or mudstones, though other
lithologies do occur.
The term flysch during its long history has acquired a number of different
connotations; it is therefore important to make clear that it is being used here in the
lithological sense. The alternation of coarse and fine sediments is perhaps the most
important characteristic. But it is not completely diagnostic. To the alternation should
be added (DZULYNSKI and SMITH, 1964):
( A) The sediments are marine in origin.
(B) The coarse-grained beds (usually sandstones but occasionally clastic lime-
stones) may have an original detrital clay-grade matrix. They are commonly graded
from bottom to top.
(C) The interface of sand and mud at the base of the sandstone is commonly
sculptured into many markings produced by the movement of the sand over the mud
both before and after deposition. These are the so-called sole-markings.
(D) Sole-markings produced by the current often show a fairly constant direction
of movement over large areas.
( E) Fossils are rare though they occur in both shales and sandstones.
( F) Large-scale cross-stratification is usually absent.
The successions to be dealt with in this chapter are marine in origin. They are
also intimately connected with geosynclinal development, in particular eugeosynclinal
conditions and generally, as in the Alps and the Carpathians, associated with the pre-
paroxysmal stage immediately before the major mountain-building movements. In so
far as many greywacke successions are also associated with this tectonic framework
and because the greywacke successions compare lithologically with the flysch, in
addition to the Alpine sediments we must include sediments from Caledonian,
Hercynian and other mountain chains. The unstable tectonic conditions of these
environments contrast with the stable regimes treated in other chapters.
Examples of the successions to be considered outside the Alpine Belt are Devo-
nian-Carboniferous rocks in the Hercynian Belt of western Europe, Lower and
Upper Palaeozoic rocks of the Appalachians, Carboniferous rocks of the Ouachita Belt
216 FLYSCH
in south-central U.S.A., Lower Palaeozoic rocks of Britain, Permian and Cretaceous
rocks in J apan, and Tertiary rocks in California, the East Indies, New Zealand and the
Caucasus. Though differing in detail, for example in the composition of the sandstones,
or the presence or absence of volcanics, all these successions show the characteristics
listed above. The likelihood is that the mode of formation of the sediments was
common to all types and the underlying cause of the repetitive nature of the sedi-
mentation the same throughout.
MODAL CYCLES AND COMPOSITE SEQUENCES
Leaving aside for the moment the occurrence of other rock types such as boulder beds
and slump deposits weshall consider a simple sequence in which only sand and shale
units are present. I n normal flysch these units would be in almost equal proportions, in
shaly flysch lutites would predominate and in sandy flysch the arenaceous bands would
be in greater proportion. The succession presents a repetition of simple cycles each
consisting of a sandstone bed and an overlying shale and being bounded above and
below by sharp changes in grain size, if not scoured surfaces. I t may be objected that
the sandstone may be a complex unit formed by a number of depositional episodes.
This may be so but these complications can be considered at a later stage when the
generation of the cycles is under discussion. Interbedded laminae (defined by PAYNE,
1942, as less than 1 cm thick) are usually not regarded as cycles with the same signifi-
cance as the beds of sandstone and shale.
Within the basic rhythm so defined there may be a variety of features but
generally there is a characteristic gradation in size from bottom to top. This may
take place within an apparently homogeneous bed or the homogeneous massive
horizon may be followed by a laminated portion. The two together form a composite
bed (KSIAZKIEWICZ, 1954).
More detailed analysis has led to the development of a number of descriptive
systems. VASSOEVIC (1948) proposed the recognition of a number of elements (I, 11,111).
These major divisions within the rhythm are defined on grain-size, I, being the coarsest
through to 111-the finest, muddy horizon. Sub-elements (a, b, c, etc.) are set up as
more detailed analysis is necessary. These sub-elements may consist of any character
within the element such as mineralogical composition or sedimentary structure. The
complete sequence in the sense of Vassoevic then would be 1-11-111, an incomplete
sequence would be designated 1-11or 11-111and any sequence may have a different
combination of sub-elements so that the formula for a particular rhythm may appear
as (say) la,b-IIb-IIIa,b.
A system proposed by BOUMA (1962; SIGNORINI, 1963, and SCHAUB, 1951, made
similar suggestions) has received widespread support and interest. Bouma concluded
from a study of flysch sediments of the Alpes Maritimes, France, that the sequence,
sandstone (a-+shale (e), was made up of five intervals which he designated:
(e) Pelite.
MODAL CYCLES AND COMPOSITE SEQUENCES 217
( d) Upper interval of parallel lamination.
(c) Interval of ripple cross-lamination (and convolute lamination).
(b) Lower interval of parallel lamination.
(a) Graded interval.
WALKER (1965) pointed out that the use of interval in this way was somewhat
unusual and proposed the term division. We prefer the latter term as being more
conventional in its connotation.
While Bouma regarded the five divisions as typical it is clear from his analysis
that this type of sequence (TaVe) occurs somewhat rarely. He recognised many
incomplete cycles. Cycles with lower divisions missing were called base cut-out (for
example TePe) and those with some of the top units absent were referred to as truncat-
ed sequences (for example Tab).
The system is therefore amenable to the treatment suggested in Chapter 1. For
the sandstones which Bouma analysed the composite sequence would appear to
be that represented by the complete cycle, Tape, but the modal cycle from the figures
shown in Fig.84 is clearly TcPe. The ideal (model) cycle we shall consider at a later
stage.
.280
v) 240
U
Fig.84. Frequency distribution of bed thickness and type of sequence in sandstones of the Peira-
Cava area. Types classified according to the presence of the divisions u-e as described in text. (After
DZULYNSIU and WALTON, 1965, based on data from BOUMA, 1962.)
Any 3ysch sequence can be analysed in the way in which Bouma suggested.
Present data are rather meagre and lack the statistical basis which is desirable. Never-
theless enough information is available to allow the provisional erection of modal
cycles and composite sequences from a number of different areas.
The Lgota Beds (Aptian-Albian, Carpathians) compare closely with the Peira
Cava Sandstone of Bouma in that 71 % of the beds are laminated and graded divisions
are not numerous (Table XXXIII). The Waitemata Group (Miocene, New Zealand)
218 FLYSCH
TABLE XXXIII
FREQUENCY OF TYPES OF BEDDING IN THE LGOTA BEDS, CARPATHIAN FLYSCH
(After UNRUG, 1959)
Type of bedding Frequency
( %)
Laminated 71 .O
Laminated and cross-laminated 18.6
Cross-laminated 2.6
Graded 2.6
Composite (graded, laminated and cross-laminated) 5.3
is also similar though BALLANCE (1964) adopted a different scheme of sub-units and
his interpretation of the formation of the sediments is slightly different. At this stage
it is sufficient to note that Ballance recognised as the composite sequence:
(6) Very fine sandstone with ripple-drift lamination.
(5) Muddy grey siltstone.
(4) Sandstone with ripple-drift lamination.
(3) Sandstone with ripple cross-lamination and convolute units.
(2) Division with horizontal lamination.
( I ) Massive graded sandstone.
The Aberystwyth Grits (Silurian, Wales) also have many units which are of the
character (Te-J but they also have a large number of sandstone beds with a complicat-
ed contorted internal structure-the so-called slurried beds (WOOD and SMITH,
1959). The composite sequence for this succession would therefore have to contain a
slurried horizon. Within the basin the position of this slumped horizon varies. In the
south it is normally found below the graded unit while in the north the position is
reversed. The composite sequence as a whole could be referred to as in Fig.85.
DZULYNSKI and SLACZKA (1958) also described units from the Krosno Beds
(Oligocene, Carpathians) which include a slump horizon. In this case the slumped
horizon is found consistently above the graded portion so that the composite sequence
corresponds to that of the northern part of the Aberystwyth Grits.
nort hern part of basin
laminated division
-7 sl urri ed bed
graded division
A
southern part of basin
Fig.85. Position of slurried horizons in composite sequence of Aberystwyth Grits, Silurian, Wales.
MODAL CYCLES AND COMPOSITE SEQUENCES 219
The Hells Mouth Grits (Cambrian, Wales) are rather coarser grained than
many of the sequences referred to above and tend to have a much thicker graded
division (BASSETT and WALTON, 1960). In addition many of the sandstones show an
additional phase of parallel lamination appearing at the base of the unit and the pelitic
division (e) may be divided into a lower dark grey band and an upper white-weathering
layer. Calcareous lenticles as well as lenses of a curious pellet-rock are also inter-
calated in the pelitic horizons. The composite sequence reads:
White-weathering mudstone.
Dark mudstone with calcareous lenticles and pellet-rock.
Laminated division with some ripple marking.
Graded division.
Lowermost division of parallel lamination.
Some of the units show multiple grading, i.e., repeated units of graded sand-
stone within the sandstone bed. This is a characteristic of successions predominantly
of coarse sandstone or sandy flysch. The Istebna Beds (Campanian-Palaeocene,
Carpathians) often appear to be similar judging from the bedding types described by
UNRUG (1963). Cross-lamination appears in some of the sandstones and interbedded
conglomerates and slumped horizons are not uncommon. The coarse-grained beds are
taken by UNRUG to represent inshore conditions of sedimentation with fluxoturbiditel
deposition (DZULYNSKI et al., 1959) predominating. Similar lithologies occur in
the Southern Uplands of Scotland where the Ordovician contains a number of
lithological types (WALTON, 1963). The Corsewall and Portpatrick types compare
with the Istebna Beds. The first (Corsewall) type is made up of coarse-grained sedi-
ments fairly well sorted, laminated and bedded without good grading; some large-
scale cross-stratification is found. Where grading does occur then it is usually in
multiple units. Multiple grading is also typical of the Portpatrick type which tends to
be slightly finer in grain than the Corsewall type and lacks the coarse conglomerates.
Some conglomeratic layers are found as local concentrations of pebbles at the base of
graded layers; elsewhere occasional pebbles are scattered sporadically through the
sandstone beds. Shale layers between the sandstones are usually very thin.
The Kirkcolm type of the Southern Uplands represents a finer-grained succession
more nearly approaching normal flysch. But it differs from the sandstones described
by Bouma from the Alpes Maritimes in that the graded portion seems to be of more
frequent occurrence. The Hawick and Wenlock Rocks (Silurian, Scotland) correspond
more closely with the Pefra-Cava Sandstones and the Lgota Beds in that laminated
beds appear to be more numerous.
The analysis of the rhythmic unit so far has been confined to the internal sedi-
mentary features. But the external structures, in particular the sole-markings should
also be considered. The sole-markings are a particular aspect of the asymmetry of the
rhythmic unit in that they often represent the response of a mud floor to a sediment-
laden current and the beginning of the phase of sedimentation. Moreover the response
1 Mass movement of material probably involving grain flow along the floor rather than suspension.
220 FLYSCH
of the floor is related to the energy of the current. Since the latter also determines the
grain size and other internal features it may be expected that sole-markings and internal
structures are correlated. In a broad way this is true, as can be seen in the lithological
types from the Southern Uplands described above. The conglomeratic, Corsewall type
has only large, rather irregular scours on the base of the sandy beds. The Portpatrick
sandstones tend to exhibit either channels or large flute moulds and occasional large
tool moulds, whereas the finer-grained Kirkcolm rocks have small flute moulds,
longitudinal ridge patterns and many tool markings. In addition the directions of the
current structures also vary from type to type. Corsewall directions are very variable
and often directed away from the margin of the basin, Portpatrick-type rocks also
show variable directions with a tendency to longitudinal flow (i.e., parallel with the
length of the trough), a direction which is predominant in the Kirkcolm-type rocks.
Modal cycles and composite sequences vary from one area to another in the
same trough. It should now be clear that some of this variation can be related to
within-basin variance. Consideration of the Southern Uplands types makes it clear
that the grain-size and other sedimentary features (the characteristics of the rhythmic
unit) are determined by nearness to source.
Before discussing the origin of the rhythmic units it is useful to note that whereas
most flysch units are of sandstone and shale, occasionally limestone flysch is found, as
in the Teschen (Cieszen) Limestones of Poland (Cretaceous, Carpathians). These
beds have all the characteristic structures of flysch apart from their composition.
HUBERT (1966) has recently described an interesting example of limestone flysch
from the Southern Uplands of Scotland. The Whitehouse Beds (Ordovician) have a
lower limestone member which is clearly flysch. An analysis of the internal structures
shows the presence of the units u-e as described by BOUMA (1962). The modal unit is:
(e) Pelite.
(a) Upper division of parallel lamination.
(c) Division of ripple cross-lamination (and convolute lamination).
(e) Pelite.
( d) Upper division of parallel lamination.
(c) Division of ripple cross-lamination (and convolute lamination).
The composite sequence appears as:
or dune division.
(b) Lower division of parallel lamination
(a) Graded division
An important feature of the units is the replacement of the graded a division by a
cross-laminated division. The size and appearance of this division leave no doubt that
it is formed of mega-ripples or dunes with wave-lengths reaching 6 m and amplitudes
about 20-30 cm. The sequence is also important because it throws light on the nature
of the pelite horizon. It is clear that in most cases this pelite must have two different
origins, one part coming from the fine-grained portion of the influx which now forms
the graded unit, the other part being independent of the influx. Where the composition
of these two parts is the same then it is very difficult to estimate their relative amounts
but in the Whitehouse Limestone member the influx contributes a fine-grained lime
IDEAL (MODEL) CYCLE 22 1
mud while the second, background, material is a grey-green shale. In this particular
case the contributions are in the proportions 75:25 which compares with RADOMSKIS
(1968) estimate from foraminifera1 assemblages in flysch that most of the pelite
would normally be associated with the sandy influx. I n another member of the
Whitehouse Beds, however, HUBERT (1966) found a ratio of 50:50 influx to back-
ground shale.
The relationship described from the Southern Uplands of the lateral movement
of coarse-grained deposits and the axial directions associated with finer-grained sand-
stones has been found many times in the Carpathians of Poland (KSIAZKIEWICZ, 1962)
and elsewhere. But in some areas there is very little indication of lateral movement as
in the Martinsburg Formation (Ordovician) of the Appalachians (MCBRIDE, 1962)
and the Stanley-J ackfork Groups of the Ouachita Mountains (Oklahoma - Arkansas)
(CLINE, 1960; BRIGGS and CLINE, 1963). Dispersal of sand in the latter basin presents a
problem because KLEIN (1966) found that the composition of the sandstones suggested
derivation from the sides rather than longitudinally from the east (the up-current
direction).
A somewhat similar situation is found in the Cretaceous Cerro Torro Formation
in Chile (SCOTT, 1966). Sole-markings indicate a constant axial (N-S) movement of cur-
rents but palaeogeographical considerations, occasional large-scale current bedding and
large slump over-folds, point to a derivation of material and a down-slope movement
from the east. DEWEY (1962) distinguished two types of sandstone unit in the Ordovician
of Ireland. The coarser sandstone is generally well graded, with well developed sole-
markings, particularly flute and groove moulds, whereas the second type is finer
grained, has only poorly developed flowage structures on the base and internally
contorted laminations. The sole-markings of the first type are oriented axially with
respect to the basin and the second type shows directions of overfolding consistently
across the basin, i.e., lateral movement.
IDEAL (MODEL) CYCLE
Erection of an ideal cycle and interpretation of the observed rhythmic units is de-
pendent very largely on one major question, i.e., the depth of sedimentation (see
DZULYNSKI and WALTON, 1965, for bibliography). The assemblage of sedimentary
features, especially the predominance of graded bedding rather than large-scale cross
bedding, suggests that the deposits were not subject to strong reworking by wave-
stirring action. This indicates accumulation at least in the deeper neritic areas if not
bathyal or abyssal depths. The fossils tend to codrm this though there is some differ-
ence of opinion. Foraminifera on the Tertiary flysch comprise both shallow-water,
benthonic forms and species characteristic of deep water, the former being restricted
to the coarser horizons (NATLAND, 1963; NATLAND and KUENEN, 1951). The assemblage
of trace fossils (biohieroglyphs) is different from that of neritic sediments and SEILACHER
(1962) has concluded that it is diagnostic of deep waters. Perhaps the most interesting
and conclusive evidence lies in the fish fauna of the J aslo Shale in the Carpathian
222 FLYSCH
Flysch. The fossils have specialised light organs characteristic of fish in present-day
deep seas and some of the same species still exist in this habitat (JERZMANSKA, 1960).
Accumulated evidence of the presence of sand and even gravel layers in modern deep
seas also supports the contention that flysch and most graded greywackes accumulated
at considerable depths.
Some workers continue to resist this evidence and persist in regarding the flysch
as shallow-water deposits. MANGIN (1962a, b, 1963), for example, cited the presence
of birds footprints in Tertiary rocks of the Pyrenees, compared the facies with topset
beds of the Mississippi delta and appealed to climatic variations as the main cause of
cyclicity in the sedimentation (but see Chapter 3). DE RAAF (1964) also pointed out the
presence of salt pseudomorphs as evidence that certain flysch-like sequences may rep-
resent shallow-water conditions. No exceptional structures were described from New
Zealand flysch sequences by KINGMA (1960) but that author regarded the sedimentary
characteristics of lamination and small-scale cross bedding together with rare shell
beds as suggestive of shallow-water deposition. The diagrams of internal structures
(see for example KINGMA, 1958, fig.6) suggest that these New Zealand rocks are very
similar to many in the Alps and the Carpathians and there seems no reason to reject the
turbidity-current hypothesis for their formation; especially since the mechanism of
tectonic control of current velocities and deposition in a shallow basin put forward by
Kingma is singularly unconvincing.
Admitting that rare features in certain successions present equivocal evidence it
seems most probable on present evidence that most successions of flysch are deep-
water deposits. Assuming such bathymetric conditions wecan now proceed to consider
mechanisms involved in the production of the rhythmic units.
Certain suggestions deserve note but have received little support. OULIANOFF
(1965) for example, in a summary of his work, proposed that vibrations of the crust
were responsible for a slow down-slope creep of material. As well as causing the spread
of sand he also envisaged the possibility of graded bedding originating from these vibra-
tions. There is clear evidence of the effect of earthquake shocks in the liquefaction and
flowage of sediment to form such features as sandstone dykes and sills, pseudo-nodules
and some load structures (DZULYNSKI and WALTON, 1965). But indications of current
movement in the rhythmic units of the flysch suggest that the mechanism suggested by
Ouilianoff can only be of marginal significance.
The evidence of current action is so compelling that serious consideration can
only be given to those hypotheses involving such movement. Pre-eminent amongst
such hypotheses is that of turbidity current action as proposed by KUENEN and
MIGLIORINI (1950). The simplest models using this hypothesis will be examined first.
It will emerge that the examples of rhythmic units described above demand more
complicated schemes and consideration of oceanic currents capable of affecting the
sea floor on abyssal and bathyal depths. These currents have come to be referred to as
bottom currents. Furthermore the possibility has to be examined that the rhythmic
units have resulted not from turbidity currents but from the operation of bottom
currents only. The models to be considered therefore are those involving:
IDEAL (MODEL) CYCLE 223
( 1) Turbidity currents, with:
(a) supply from one end of the trough (longitudinal supply),
(b) longitudinal combined with transverse supply,
(c) other mass movements.
(a) graded beds and current-affected inter-beds,
(b) bottom currents reworking the whole of the sandstone units.
(2) Turbidity currents and bottom currents:
(3) Bottom currents.
Turbidity currents
On this hypothesis the development of the currents is sporadic, probably not periodic
and most probably triggered off by earthquake shocks. The sand supplied by the
turbidity currents provides the material of the graded units and interrupts background
sedimentation of fine pelagic detritus. This detritus appears now as the pelitic horizon
between the coarser bands.
Model cycles are set up from experimental data, field evidence, hydraulic con-
siderations and general conditions of supply to and dispersal of material in basins.
Model l a: turbidity currents with longitudinal supply
This simplest model compares with experimental conditions (KUENEN and MIGLIORINI,
1950; KUENEN and MENARD, 1952; DZULYNSKI and WALTON, 1963) and the results
suggest that the deposits from a single turbidity current (i.e., one rhythm) would
consist of a bed varying from proximal to distal portions. Grading may be absent
from the near-source areas where lamination and sometimes cross-lamination may
appear (DZULYNSKI, 1965). Most of the bed away from the immediate in-shore
area would however be graded and the thickness would decrease distally. There may
be more admixture of clay in the remote areas due to incorporation of this material
in the highly eroded proximal regions. Sole-markings would vary from large scours
near source through tool markings and longitudinal ridges (which become smaller
distally) to a smooth lower surface (DZULYNSKI and WALTON, 1963).
The experiments support the contention that graded beds result from the oper-
ation of turbidity currents. DZULYNSKI (1965) also produced laminated and cross-
laminated proximal beds resembling flux0 turbidites and near-source greywacke lithol-
ogies. But the lamination so often found in the upper parts of the cycle has not yet
been successfully reproduced. KSIAZKIEWICZ (1954) for example envisaged the for-
mation of laminations from weaker, less dense turbidity currents which either lagged
behind the main currents and came along at intervals after the main flow or which
formed inter-flows (as distinct from the bottom flow of the main current) and deposited
material from some height above the floor. A rather more economical and elegant
explanation links the laminated and graded portions together as deposits from a
single turbidity current. WALKER (1965) envisaged the formation of the internal
structures in the rhythm in terms of the succession of bed-forms found in hydraulic
224 FLYSCH
experiments under conditions of falling competency. The lowermost division (a,
seep.217)Walkerinterpreted in terms of the nature of the current. If this were a current
in which a thorough size sorting of grains had occurred (a mature current in Walkers
phraseology) so that the grain size decreased from head to tail and upwards in the
current then deposition without reworking would produce a graded division. Walker
envisaged a number of variations in the structure of the lowermost division according
to whether the current showed a simple gradation of sizes or whether a more complex
structure prevailed. Above the a division the lower laminations in b, with current
parting lineation, can be interpreted as representing a transition flow regime (WALKER,
1965; J. R. L. ALLEN, 1964b), which leads with falling velocity into the lower flow
regime structures of the ripple lamination (c). The origin of the uppermost layer (d)
with parallel lamination is problematical but Walker suggested that at this stage
deposition takes place through a thin boundary layer developed just above the surface
resulting in a slight sorting and gradation within the laminae. Another feature which
is still unresolved is the lack of dune-structures which appear in hydraulic regimes
above ripple-marking. This makes the Whitehouse occurrences (p.220) of exceptional
interest.
With regard to the mechanism of formation of parallel lamination, KUENEN
(1965) has advocated one rather similar to that proposed by Moss (1962, 1963).
Kuenen rejected the widely held idea that current pulsations are necessary for the
formation of laminae and envisaged lamination as a result of like seeking like.
That is to say, random patches of sediment of a particular size tend to grow because of
the tendency to trap grains of the same size; mica flakes for example, are unlikely to be
depositedwithacoarse sand because of the turbulence associated with such a floor, and
sand grains may well roll right over a patch consisting merely of clay or mica flakes
because of the smoothness of the surface. Laminae tend thereby to be of limited
extent and can be formed from a current without pulsations. KUENEN (1965) demon-
strated experimentally that sand laminae with grain diameters three times those of
neighbouring layers could be formed in a uniform current.
The interpretation of the sequence of structures is far from complete but the
situation is clear enough to envisage the nature of the cycles as they are developed in
different parts of the basin (Fig.86). At a point corresponding, for example, to the
position d (Fig.86) the most frequent cycle (modal) will tend to consist of laminated
beds with small tool markings and longitudinal ridges. This type may be interbedded
with rather finer-grained beds from weaker flows or with coarser beds showing the
graded division, produced from stronger flows. Where a number of flows have been
generated in quick succession then multiple sandstone beds may occur. Current
directions as shown by sole-markings, by internal grain orientations and by upper-
surface ripple-markings should be nearly uni-directional, variations only occurring
through local swings in the current and perhaps cross-currents affecting deposition
in the ripple stage. KELLING (1964b) envisaged surge-waves produced by the passage
of the turbidity current sweeping back and rippling the finer deposits in directions
normal to the previous movements.
IDEAL (MODEL) CYCLE 225
a b C d e
Fig.86. Hypothetical lithological variation in elongate trough with source at one end. Above:
sections; below: plan. a = conglomerates and sandy flysch of flux0 turbidite type; b = sandy flysch
with multiple grading; c = normal flysch (cycle type Ta-e probably dominant); d = shaly flysch
(cycle type Tb-s probably dominant); e = pelagic (open-sea) deposits: shale-silt succession, remote
from source. (Based on a number of sources, see D ~ Y N S K I and WALTON, 1965.)
The sequence of structures inherent in this model can be seen in most local
successions, say on the exposure level (level 2 of KRUMBEINS, 1964, hierarchy; p.18).
But when modal cycles and sequences are compared over a large area, and when
palaeo-current directions are taken into account a more sophisticated construction
is necessary.
Model Ib: longitudinal combined with transverse supply
Consider the simple situation of Model 1 complicated by the presence of a number of
active sources lying at points on the side along the trough. The main supply may be
from one end as envisaged by KUEN~N (1957) or a longitudinal movement may pre-
dominate because of the tendency of transverse currents to swing into the axial direction
along the length of the trough (DZULYNSKI et al., 1959). But the longitudinal pattern
is confused by movements from a number of nearby transverse sources. The type of
unit accumulating at any one point will then be controlled by the distance from the
sources of supply and the fact that in this case the distribution cone of the turbidity
226 FLYSCH
current will gradually be rotated through 90 O from an initial transverse movement into
a longitudinal one.
This situation is characterised by a mixture of cycle types in the succession as well
as strong variations in current directions-a mixture of transverse directions and
longitudinal or even in the extreme-in the middle of the troughs-sometimes by
opposing directions of movement. Multiple beds are fairly common.
Model Ic: turbidity currents with other mass movements
Any of the models described above may have an additional complication: that of
sliding of material in mass movements other than turbidity currents. Sand flow (in
grain by grain flow), or slumps-characterised by a chaotic assortment of fragments
at the one extreme or a simple arrangement of folds due to plastic gliding at the
other-can be expected to originate on the lateral margins of the trough and to cut
obliquely across the longitudinally derived debris in the middle of the basin. In terms
of material and direction of movement they should be similar to material from lateral
sources.
More information is required from ripple marking before the precise conditions
can be inferred but from present information the flysch troughs in the Carpathians
provide excellent examples of both longitudinal movement patterns and many lateral
sources. The Krosno Beds of the Carpathians (DZULYNSKI and SLACZKA, 1958) are
fairly typical. In addition there are many cases of slumped beds and pebbly mudstone
intercalated in the succession (UNRUG, 1963; MARSCHALKO, 1963). These beds have
moved downslope laterally from the intra-geosynclinal sources which contributed
most of the debris. The rocks described by DEWEY (1962) from Ireland provide a
rather exceptional example of longitudinal and laterally derived beds differing marked-
ly in internal and external structures.
Combined action of turbidity currents and bottom currents
Model 2a: graded beds and current-affected inter-beds
Consider an elongate trough occasionally suffering turbidity currents and also stirred
by a water movement sufficient to move material along the floor. Transverse or axial
movement of turbidity currents may be combined with any direction of bottom
currents. Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of these bottom currents would
appear in the non-alignment of sole- and upper-markings. Supposing the turbidity
currents to be the more competent the major portion of any one bed could be laid down
as a turbidite but the upper fine-sand or silt portion would then be reworked by bottom
currents which would impose their orientation on any directional structure-ripples
seem to be the most likely.
This situation seems to be very common in nature. PRENTICE (1956) first drew
attention to it in the flysch rocks of Devon and later CRAIG and WALTON (1962),
KELLING (196413) and Hsu (1964) recognised similar occurrences elsewhere. In these
examples the reworking current is at right angles to the turbidity currents and lies
IDEAL (MODEL) CYCLE 227
across the axial direction of the trough. (Kelling suggested surge waves associated
with the movement of the turbidity current and this alternative cannot easily be ruled
out.) Where there is a difference in movement direction then the deposits from the
different currents may be picked out, but where current directions are found to be
uniform throughout it becomes extremely difficult to pick out bottom current-formed
rippled beds from distally formed, current rippled turbidites.
Model 26: wholly reworked units
Another possibility arises: that of bottom currents strong enough to rework coarse
sand grains through a considerable thickness. Given sufficient reworking the sand
derived from a turbidity current may be reorganized from top to bottom and the sole
markings destroyed so that all directional structures conform to the movement of the
bottom currents. On any sandy floor it seems not improbable that reworking might
take place down to the next smooth-surfaced lutite. Any combination of turbidity-
current direction and bottom-current direction is possible and this type of reworking
may have occurred in some of the sequences mentioned above in 2a. But a more
common situation may be that of laterally derived mass movements (including
turbidity currents) affected by bottom currents which have an axial long-shore move-
ment. For the reasons outlined above both SCOTT (1966) and KLEIN (1966) were led to
propose the (at first sight) improbable situation that each sandstone bed may have
been reworked by bottom currents.
Bottom currents
If reworking of sands is envisaged as a possibility is it necessary to postulate turbidity-
current action at all? Suppose bottom currents were competent enough to disperse
large masses of sand over the floor of a trough. HUBERT (1964) has recently urged that
the whole question of deep-sea sands requires re-examination. Grain-size parameters
and internal structures in most of the fine sands (from the North Atlantic) examined
by Hubert were indistinguishable from those of shallow, current-formed sands. Hubert,
therefore, in the light of recent evidence for bottom currents suggested that much of
the sand dispersal in the Atlantic may be due to bottom currents rather than to
turbidity currents.
I n considering setting up a model along these lines it is immediately apparent
that there is a minimum of control in the form of evidence. Granted the operation of
bottom currents wemust then suppose that these are variable and that each wanes in
competency over a period to produce the rhythmic unit, wemust further suppose that
the current operates over one area and dies in a distal (deeper?) direction. We may
then end up with a current which has all the characteristics of a turbidity current!
MURPHY and SCHLANGER (1962) have suggested the operation ofbottom currents
but in their section (Rec8ncavo Basin, Brazil) the beds they were concerned with (like
the sands described by HUBERT, 1964, from the North Atlantic) were almost all
228 FLYSCH
laminated and cross-laminated and there was no suggestion of gradations from coarse
near-source beds to distal lithologies.
In summary many of the natural sequences described so far appear to coincide
in terms of modal cycles and composite sequences with a model involving longitudinal
movement of turbidity currents derived ultimately from a number of transverse points
of supply. There is growing evidence that bottom currents have played a part in form-
ing parts of the rhythmic units. In some successions these bottom currents may have
been dominant but at the moment it is very difficult to assess their precise importance.
MEGARYTHMS
Larger-scale repetitive units were designated as megarhythms to distinguish them
from the small-scale features discussed above (KSIAZKIEWICZ, 1960). Developing the
idea of No~~~( 1927) and others, Ksiazkiewicz had in mind large units of formational
or group significance (hundreds of metres in thickness) and he pointed out that the
whole of the Carpathian flysch was made up of these megarhythms. Each unit began
with coarse sediments and ended with fine-grained or sometimes organogenic sedi-
ments. Two types of megarhythms were picked out. One begins with coarse-grained
sediments appearing suddenly above clays and shales, the second shows a more gradual
transition from the fine-grained beds with the coarsest conglomerates some distance
above the base. Examples of the first are the Lgota Beds (Albian) coming in abruptly
over the Verovice Shales and of the second-the Inoceramian Beds (Senonian) where
the sandy beds gradually dominate over the Cieszyn limestones and shales (Neo-
comian).
Siluro-Devonian rocks of Victoria, Australia, show similar large-scale pulsations
of the order of several thousand feet (SCHLEIGER, 1964). Six coarse-grained members
occur in about 20,000 ft. of sediment and each member becomes finer upwards. Bedding
thickness also decreases with decrease in grain size, although there may be some slight
reversalsin this tendency through the succession. Like Ksiazkiewicz, Schleiger attribut-
ed these large-scale features to diastrophic movements.
Within the members there are said to be smaller units, which Schleiger referred
to as cycles and sub-cycles. These divisions consist of bundles of greywackes and
siltstones and appear to be separated from one another by changes in the size of the
greywacke beds; for example one cycle is picked out in the sequences shown in Fig.87
because of the incoming of a thicker greywacke after a number have shown a gradual
reduction in thickness. The sub-cycles also are delimited by changes in the thickness
of the greywacke. The procedure, however, appears to be quite arbitrary (even Schlei-
ger admitted to a difficulty in resolving some of the sub-cycles) and of very little
significance except perhaps to indicate that there may be groups of beds which show a
decrease in the thickness of greywackes from bottom to top and that there may be
oscillations in the thickness of greywacke beds through the succession. These should
only be picked out by more rigorous methods of investigation than Schleiger apparent-
ly employed.
IDEAL (MODEL) CYCLE 229
C Y C L E 2 TOP
Fig.87. Cycles and sub-cycles from the Siluro-Devonian sequence in Victoria, Australia, according to
SCHLEIGER, 1964.
Other authors have commented on groups of beds of the order of several metres
which appear to form larger rhythms. The Aberystwyth Grit succession (Silurian,
Wales: WOOD and SMITH, 1959) shows in parts groups of thin beds separated by groups
with thicker bands. On occasion the group of beds begins with a thick greywacke and
through the cycle the greywacke bands gradually decrease in thickness. The situation
is reversed in part of the Ordovician succession in the Rhinns of Galloway (Scotland;
KELLING, 1961) where the cycle (of the order of 10 m), consisting of a number of
greywacke beds terminates upwards in a thick (up to 3 m) bed. NEDERLOF (1959)
found a significant fluctuation in bed thicknesses through a Carboniferous succession
in Spain, the size of which compares with those from the Aberystwyth Grits. He also
detected a longer period oscillation which he referred to as a trend (see Chapter 1:
NBDERLDF, 1959). But not all successions show such fluctuations or trends. Similar
methods to those used by Nederlof for example failed to reveal any fluctuations in
the Lower Palaeozoic successions in areas in Scotland and Ireland (T. B. ANDERSON,
1962; WELSH, 1964). SUJKOWSKI (1957) also achieved negative results from his analyses
of flysch successions.
For the larger rhythms in the Carpathian flysch KSIAZKEIWICZ (1 960) favoured
a tectonic control, envisaging sporadic uplift of the intra-geosynclinal areas which
acted as sources for the sediment. The origin of the smaller groups of beds is little
understood. For the most part they have been remarked on without further comment.
NEBF (1964), however, produced an ingenious idea to account for certain bundles
of beds in early Pliocene rocks of New Zealand. These bundles, or rhythms in Neefs
terminology, consist of mudstone surmounted by a series (6-9) of thin graded
sandstones (Fig.88) although in some sections the place of mudstone may be taken by
siltstone. Fault movements were invoked t o account for the rhythms in this way. The
area is cut by northeast-southwest trending faults which Neef supposed operated,
230 FLYSCH
15 ft
13 ft.
16ft.
20 ft.
RHYTHM 5
9t Graded Beds
RHYTHM 4
7 Graded Beds
RHYTHM 3
6 Graded Beds
RHYTHM 2
9 Graded Beds
Mudstonc 63 Sandstone and Siltstone
6] Lenticular Concretionary Band
Fig.88. Rhythmic groups of graded beds from the Pliocene, hlfredton, New Zealand. (After NEEF,
1964.)
perhaps at intervals of about 20,000-30,000 years, to produce a small scarp against
the downdropped portion which sloped gently upwards away from the scarp (Fig.89).
Neef suggested that turbidity currents would be channelled along the deeper portion
alongside the scarp and that the coarser sediment would be deposited in these lower
regions. Some of the upper part of the turbidity current would spread over the top of
the scarp but this would be only the finer material, and would appear in the geological
record as a bed of mudstone. So long as no further movement along the fault inter-
vened sedimentation would fill up the deeper portion and sand sedimentation would
spread over the whole area. During this time the upper graded beds of the top of the
rhythm probably formed. Another movement along the fault would initiate another
rhythm.
Y
I
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I 2
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Chapter 10
SEDIMENTARY CYCLES AND FAUNAL CHANGE
Fossils have so far only been mentioned incidentally in this book. Because of their
great value in environmental interpretation and stratigraphic correlation, however,
something must be said about their relationship with sedimentary cycles. A compre-
hensive review would be beyond the scope of this work and all that is intended in this
chapter is to point out a number of significant findings based on some selected examples
of research. It will be convenient first to consider faunal variation within major cycles,
where the principle concern is with facies change, and pass on to faunal variation
between cycles, where the emphasis shifts towards evolution and extinction.
FAUNAL SUCCESSION WITHIN MAJ OR SEDIMENTARY CYCLES
The alternation in the European Upper Carboniferous Coal Measure cycles between
marine bands and beds containing so-called non-marine lamellibranchs (Carbo-
nicola, Naidites, Anthraconaia, etc.) is well known. What is perhaps less familiar is
that the marine bands are themselves often cyclic from a faunal point of view, and
have been interpreted as showing transitions from open-sea to brackish-water or
fresh-water conditions. The Clay Cross marine band of the Pennine Coalfield innorthern
England provides a good example.
As described by EDWARDS and STUBBLEFIELD (1947) the lowest few cm of the
marine band in its area of maximum development are characterised by Lingula alone,
occasionally associated with the marine ostracod Hollinella; this unit is followed by
one containing the goniatite Anthracoceras and thin-shelled bivalves including Dun-
barella; inarticulate brachiopods and gastropods also occur here. The top part of the
marine band is again in Lingula facies, with interdigitations of thin layers containing
non-marine bivalves.
JESSEN et al. (1952) have given the schematic representation of faunal cycles
within the Ruhr Coal Measures shown in Table XXXIV.
This is an idealised scheme, and one or more elements are usually missing. I t is
interpreted in terms of varying salinity, with the goniatites marking the most fully
marine conditions. Similar cycles in the Belgian Coal Measures have beendescribed by
VAN LECKWIJK (1948).
Such faunal cycles, testifying to varying environmental conditions, may occur
in a lithologically apparently uniform shale sequence, as in parts of the Namurian
(Miustone Grit Series) of Derbyshire. RAMSBOTTOM et aL (1962j have recordedfhe
234
SEDIMENTARY CYCLES AND FAUNAL CHANGE
TABLE XXMV
SCHEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF FAUNAL CYCLES WITHIN TFE RUHR COAL MEASURES
(After JESSEN et al., 1952)
1 Non-marine lamellibranchs
2 Planolites (trace-fossil)
3 Lingula
4 Goniatites
4 Goniatites
Regressive hemicycle
i
Progressive hemicycle
3 Lingula
2 Planolites
1 Non-marine lamellibranchs
following faunal phases, which oscillate in a regular manner:
(6) Typical thicker-shelled goniatite phase: fully marine with numerous bivalves
and occasional trilobites and brachiopods.
(5) Anthrococeras and Dimorphoceras phase: thin-shelled goniatites, perhaps
signifying slightly brackish conditions.
( 4) Molluscan spat phase: abundant spat of marine molluscs, probably not
fully marine.
(3) Lingula phase: regarded as more saline environment thari I and 2, but still
not fully marine.
(2) Planolites phase: no marine fossils.
( I ) Fish phase: palaeoniscids and acanthodians mainly; no marine fossils.
Though the sedimentation might not have varied cyclically, it is clear that
significant environmental changes would be missed by anyone who chose to ignore the
fossils. The same is true of the J urassic Oxford Clay of southeastern England. Before
BRINKMANN (1929) pursued his detailed studies and revealed the minor faunal cycles
described in Chapter 6, no-one had suspected the existence of numerous environmental
oscillations during deposition of the formation.
The notion that salinity has been the main controlling factor affecting faunal
distributions in the Carboniferous Coal Measures has recently been disputed for
certain instances by BOGER (1964). Boger made an intensive study of two marine bands
in the Ruhr Coalfield and recognised the following six fossil associations, which may
occur in sequence:
(6) Brachiopods: rare; may be accompanied by members of the fifth association;
only occurs in sandy sediment.
(5) Gastrioceras: includes Pterinopecten.
( 4) Anthracoceras: includes Posidoniella.
(3) Nuculanids: small bivalves.
(2) Planolites and Lingula.
( I ) Jonesina: ostracods and fish remains.
FAUNAL SUCCESSION WITHIN MAJOR CYCLES 235
Resemblance of these associations, occurring in succession, to the previously
described faunal cycles or phases is obvious. Boger argued, however, that such factors
as direction and strength of water currents, the quantity and clasticity of sediment
deposited in the area and the depth of sea might have played an important role in
affecting the fauna. The influence of salinity might have been an indirect one. The
first three associations are dominated by infauna (living within the sediment), the last
three by epifauna (living above the sediment). This suggested to Boger the possibility
that the former group inhabited relatively shallow, perhaps intertidal waters of fairly
normal salinity, where they were well protected by their mode of life from periodic
dessication and salinity fluctuations. The latter group would have been more exposed
to such fluctuations and were in consequence probably confined to slightly deeper
waters offshore.
Faunal variations up the succession may point to changes in degree of aeration
of the sea bottom (e.g., BRINKMANN, 1929; HALLAM, 1960) or changes in depth of sea.
Depth determinations from fossils are fairly reliable for Middle Tertiary and younger
deposits, though rarely for differences of only a few metres. As noted in Chapter 7,
VELLA (1963) ascribed depths of deposition to his Plio-Pleistocene sedimentary cyclic
units with confidence on the basis of the contained fossils.
For much older deposits there is far greater uncertainty, as is well illustrated by
the controversy over the depths of deposition of various lithological units in the
Pennsylvanian and Permian cyclothems of Kansas and neighbouring states in the
North American Mid-Continent region. ELIAS (1937) wrote an influential paper in
which depth of sea was considered the principal factor controlling deposition of the
sediments, using fauna as the main criteria. The beds were thought to have been de-
posited in depths of up to about 55 m (180 ft.) of water, with the fusulinid limestones
marking the greatest depth (160-180 ft.). This interpretation has been disputed for
one of Elias' best examples, the Wolfcampian Beattie Limestone Formation, by IMBRIE
et al. (1959, 1964) and LAPORTE (1962).
TABLE XXXV
LAPORTE'S INTERPRETATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF FACIES AND ENVIRONMENT IN THE PERMIAN
COTTONWOOD LIMESTONE OF KANSAS AND NEIGHBOURING STATES
Facies Terrigenous Water Turbulence
influx circulation
Bioclastic low poor intermediate
F u s u 1 in e low poor intermediate
Platy algal low intermediate intermediate
Shelly
Lime-rich intermediate good low
Clay-rich high good low
Silty Osagia high good high
236 SEDIMENTARY CYCLES AND FAUNAL CHANGE
Laporte undertook a detailed palaeoecological study of the Cottonwood
Limestone, a member of the Beattie Limestone which can be followed from Oklahoma
to Nebraska, and suggested three main environmental controls of faunal facies, none
of them directly involving depth. The proposed relationships are given in Table XXXV.
In contrast to Elias, I ~R I E et al. (1959) believed the deposits to be of extremely
shallow-water origin, with the Osagia beds being laid down in water of a fathom
or less and the fusuline and bioclastic facies in waters only slightly deeper.
MCCRONE (1963, 1964) has returned to the belief in the primary importance of
depth control in the case of another of Elias examples, the Lower Permian Red
Eagle cyclothem. The importance of other factors is not neglected, however, and
McCrone supported Laportes contention that fusulinids lived in shallow depths,
probably no greater than about 20 m. As evidence for this, it was pointed out that rich
fusuline beds are associated with crustose calcareous algae whose living analogues
certainly dwell in very shallow waters.
McCrone recognised a number of environmental index fossils:
Usagia (algae): clear, shallow (0-10 ft.), warm, gently agitated water.
Lingula, Orbiculoidea: shallow (0-10 ft.), somewhat turbid conditions, restricted
Triticites: clear, shallow (10-40 ft.), warm, normal marine water, gentle, free
Trochiliscus (charophyte): shallow (0-10 ft.), mildly brackish water rich in
The researches of these different workers indicate the great scope that exists for
circulation.
circulation.
CaCOs.
detailed palaeoecological investigations of fossiliferous sedimentary cycles.
FAUNAL CHANGE BETWEEN MAJOR SEDIMFNTARY CYCLES
It is also profitable to investigate broader relationships between fauna and sediments
by considering faunal distribution in whole sequences of major sedimentary cycles over
large areas. Continuing with examples from classic Late Palaeozoic sequences wemay
first note the work of CALVER (1956) on the distribution of Westphalian non-marine
bivalves in the English Pennine coalfields.
Three major marine bands occur in an otherwise largely non-marine succession,
the Clay Cross, Mansfield and Top. As illustrated in Fig.90 the genus Carbonicoh
continues up to the Clay Cross and then disappears suddenly. Anthracosia comes in
just below the Clay Cross and continues right up to the Mansfield. Naidites, in contrast,
continues right through the succession before disappearing almost exactly at the
horizon of the Top Marine Band. A few other less common genera show no such clear
relationship, although it should be noted that fossils of the Anthraconauta phillipsi
group come in almost exactly at the level of the Top Marine Band. Evidently the
disappearance up the succession of these three genera marks extinction over the
Pennine region and maybe a more extensive area. I t appears highly probable that this
FAUNAL CHANGE BETWEEN MAJOR CYCLES
I
I t
-- ; A m H M c o N A ; ; j r C C -
f
I
1 I I
I
,ANTHRACONAUTA PHIl!LlPSI GROUP 1-
I 1 I
I I I
I
- GEN. 7. SE NOV
I I
I
- ..... 1 .... " ........ w.. .... -* ANTHRACONAUTA MlNlMA GROUP
I
1
I I I
LENISULCATA COMMUNIS MODlOLARlS SIMILIS- PULCHRA PHILLIPS1 TENUIS
WESTPHALIAN A WESTPHALIAN B WESTPHALIAN C WEST. D
A MMA NI A N MORGA NI A N
237
I
I
I
I
I
ANTHRACmlA I
I
I
I I I
ANTHRACOSPHAERIUM
I
-
NAIADITES
was intimately bound up with three widespread transgressions of the sea, destroying
at least temporarily the old habitats.
Another British Carboniferous example was given by DIXON and VAUGHAN
(1911) who pointed out that some major cyclic boundaries in the Carboniferous
Limestone of Gower, Glamorgan, coincide with the boundaries of faunal zones.
Thus the new fauna of zone D enters the succession where the facies change suggests a
deepening of the sea (see Chapter 6). VELLA (1963) gave a Plio-Pleistocene example of
faunal zones correlating with major cycles.
The best examples so far, come, however, from shelf sea successions in the
238 SEDIMENTARY CYCLES AND FAUNAL CHANGE
European Mesozoic. An intimate correlation between sedimentary cycles and
ammonite zones in the J urassic was noted a long time ago by KLUPFEL (1917), FREBOLD
(1925) and others, and a similar relationship, less well documented, observed in the
Swiss Cretaceous by FICHTER (1934).
The Lias has received the most attention from this point of view, being particu-
larly favourable for study because of its rich and easily correlatable ammonite faunas
in northwest Europe. It has been possible to confirm and extend the findings of Klupfel
and Frebold and demonstrate that ammonite zonal boundaries and sedimentary cycles
usually coincide (HALLAM, 1961). Furthermore, the more striking the sedimentary
change the more striking tends to be the faunal turnover. Though condensation of the
succession or the occurrence of minor stratigraphical gaps at cycle boundaries may
accentuate the faunal changes, they do not artificially create them, since zonal
boundaries normally remain distinct in a variety of facies, including those where the
lithological evidence does not favour strong fluctuations in rates of sedimentation. The
objection might also be raised that ammonites are first used to correlate sedimentary
cycles and subsequently the rock succession is used to inform on changes in the
ammonites. The implication is that the argument, like the sedimentation, is cyclic, or
at least circular. This objection is not valid; the argument would be circular only if
changes in the ammonite succession alone were used to establish the existence of
sedimentary cycles. What in fact has been done is simply to correlate sedimentary and
faunal change. There is no reason, for instance, why important changes in the
ammonite succession should not frequently fall in the middle of major sedimentary
cycles in given areas, if the relationship were merely random.
Other invertebrate groups were evidently less sensitive to environmental changes
than the ammonites and had much longer-ranging species. Nevertheless there were two
major changes in sea level that had a profound effect on the fauna as a whole. The
first episode was a widespread marine transgression at the base of the Pliensbachian.
This is not marked in most areas by a striking sedimentary change and, ammonites
apart, there is no suggestion of widespread disappearance of Sinemurian invertebrates.
The transgression correlates, however, with the appearance and proliferation of new
organisms, notably among the ammonites, belemnites, bivalves, brachiopods and
Foraminifera.
The second change is the most notable in the whole of the Lias from both
sedimentary and faunal viewpoints. A phase of widespread shallowing of the sea in the
Late Domerian was followed by a deepening in the early Toarcian, marking the
beginning of a new sedimentary cycle. This is clearly indicated by the sedimentary
record (see Chapter 6). The change correlates with an almost complete faunal turn-
over, virtually all major groups being affected. An episode of widespread disappearance
of older species, marking at least local extinction, correlates not exactly with the
Domerian-Toarcian boundary but with the presence of an extremely widespread unit
of laminated bituminous shale in the Lower Toarcian, clearly an anaerobic deposit.
I t seems likely that bottom stagnation was largely responsible for extinguishing the
benthonic fauna, together with some nektonic elements. Subsequently, in the later
FAUNAL CHANGE BETWEEN MAJOR CYCLES
Hettangian
239
Sinemurian Pliensbachian .Toarcian
Ast art e obsoletu
Cardinia listeri
Chlamys? calvu
Chlamys textaria
Entolium lunare
Geruillella hugenowi
Gryphuea af f . urcuuta
Grypliaeu cymbinm
IIippopodiunz ponderosum
Inoccramus ventricosus
Lima gigantea
Lima succincta
Mactronzya cardioides
Meleugviliella substria f a
Modiolus scalp~iim
Myoplzorella literata
Niiczrlu hamnzeri
Nucula nauis
Nuculana ovum
Oxytomu inaequiualue
Pulueoneilo gahtea
Pamllelodon buckniani
Pholnd~mya umbi pa
Piniia hartmaniii
Pmtocardia truncata
Pseudolimea acuticosta
Pseudotimea pectinoides
Pseudopecten aequiualuis
Terquemia arietis
Variamussum gumilum
Velata veluta
,
Fig.91. Stratigraphical ranges of some common bivalve species in the British Lias. (Based on data in
HALLAM, 1961 .) Domerian is equivalent to Upper Pliensbachian.
Toarcian, northwest Europe was colonised by new forms which often range into the
Middle Jurassic.
These points are brought out by Fig.91, which gives a list of some of the
commonest Liassic bivalve species. It will be seen that the species are divisible into
four groups. One group ranged through most or all of the Lower and Middle Lias
(Hettangian-Domerian) and even into the basal Upper Lias (Toarcian) before be-
coming extinct. The second entered the succession in the Lower Pliensbachian before
suffering a similar fate and a third entered in the Toarcian, above the bituminous
240 SEDIMENTARY CYCLES AND FAUNAL CHANGE
shale horizon. Only a small minority of species, composing a fourth group, were able
to survive the episode of widespread bottom stagnation.
The question naturally arises, do changes of this type reflect world-wide events?
Evidence is beginning to accumulate to suggest that they do at least in some instances
(HALLAM, 1963b). The later stages of a major cycle in the J urassic, at times of relatively
shallow water and contracting seas, seem to be bound up with the extinction of old
groups of organisms and the early stages with the evolutionary radiation and migration
of new groups. This is very well shown in the Middle J urassic. In Bathonian times the
seas reached an extreme condition of contraction and the ammonites have unusual
features, with the development of extreme oxycones, sphaerocones and cadicones, and
exhibiting various eccentricities of growth. I t seems to mark in fact a time of evo-
lutionary stagnation, to use ARKELLS (1956) term. The succeeding transgression in
the Callovian, marking the start of a new cycle, was associated with the evolution and
migration of new groups, Tethyan macrocephalitids being followed by boreal kosmo-
ceratids. Very rarely indeed does an individual ammonite genus cross a major cyclic
boundary and striking changes are often apparent even at family level.
These phenomena seem to represent instances of a major sort of evolutionary
process associated with the eustatic rise and fall of sea level (R. C. MOORE, 1954;
NEWELL, 1962, 1963). Periods of low sea level when shelf seas were reduced to a
minimum often correlate with phases of widespread extinction Qf invertebrates. As the
sea level rose subsequently the transgressing seas created once more a large variety
of ecological niches which led to rapid multiplication and radiation of the survivors.
Outstanding examples include the Permian-Trias and Cretaceous-Paleocene tran-
sitions. I t is no coincidence that the boundaries of these systems correspond with
those of the major eras of Phanerozoic time.
Here is a much-neglected field for research, since surprisingly little intensive
and systematic work has been done seeking relationships between major changes in the
sedimentary and faunal successions. The bearing of this type of research on problems
of both cyclic sedimentation and faunal evolution is not inconsiderable.
Chapter I1
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
I t is still arguable that the attempt to discern a pattern of repetitive sedimentation in
successions has led to more misrepresentation and difficulties than it has enlightenment.
Nevertheless such a search is probably inevitable at some stage in sedimentary studies
and efforts will no doubt continue. It is a chastening observation that methods of
investigation and data assessment did not change essentially from the early recognition
of possible rhythmic sedimentation in the earlier part of the last century to the middle
of this. There is hope now that at least the more undesirable subjective elements will be
eliminated from future analyses. This does not mean a Iess important role for the
assessment of data on geological grounds. Indeed, as indicated in Chapter 1, statistical
analysis of complex successions can usually only begin after decisions have been made
regarding, for example, the most significant lithology in a mixture of lithologies making
up the succession. But once geological decisions of this sort have been made it is
incumbent on workers at this stage to carry out as objective and quantitative analyses
as possible. A number of different methods is available. The methods of D m and
WALTON (1962) and PEARN (1964) represent one type where there is an attempt to
pick out what may be the most common of cycles and to compare this (modal)
cycle with ideal (model) cycles. This type of analysis may be essential in complicated
successions, although VISTELIUS (1961) has shown how it may be possible to allocate
figures to different lithologies and apply rather more rigorous mathematical techniques.
Of these techniques the method of power-spectrum analysis, which picks out the pre-
dominant periodicities, in a complex series of measurements through time, is of great
potential. I t is also possible, as SCHWARZACHER (1964) has done, to pick out the
variation in particular parameters through a succession and compare this variation
with mathematical models represented by, for example, simple sine curves or more
complex expressions. Although it should be always borne in mind that statistical
methods are not always the most appropriate and that geological significance should
not be lost in the search for more and more elegant mathematical techniques, the
use of these methods should provide a sounder basis for genetic considerations than is
currently available. From the way in which much evidence has generally been present-
ed it is often difficult to be sure of field sequences (see especially Chapters 4 and 5).
There is no doubt too that there has been a strong tendency to overemphasise the
regularity of rhythmic successions. This has certainly been the case in studies of
Carboniferous rocks. Very many workers have assumed that cyclicity is present in a
certain form, and that variants from this form are unimportant so far as the overall
theory of origin is concerned. But it is difficult to know where the process of making
242 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
allowances for variations from an expected development should stop in this subjective
approach. Carried to absurdity it would be possible to see complex cycles in a thick
perfectly homogeneous succession of one lithological type-facies variations throughout
the basin of deposition having led to the absence of expected units in the area under
consideration.
Furthermore, once it was realised that Carboniferous sediments displayed
somewhat similar cycles in different parts of the world, many workers began a mis-
guided search for a worldwide mechanism and, often, for one single cause of cyclo-
thems. VELLA (1965), returning to ideas of H. Stille and E. Suess on worldwide
synchronous eustatic or diastrophic events, has even recommended the adoption of
cyclothems as time-stratigraphic units. When it is realised that it is often not possible
in America to correlate Carboniferous cycles between say Kansas and Illinois or even
within each state and that in the British Coal Measures there are often correlation
problems between Sheffield and Nottingham, a distance of about 30 miles, wefind
it difficult to take Vellas suggestion with any seriousness. We have considered cyclic
successions from a variety of environments and it seems probable that only in a few
regimes can worldwide controlling mechanisms be recognised. Thus, certain of the
major cycles of the J urassic can be ascribed to eustasy but this is possible only because
of the remarkably fine zonal scheme available and after painstaking comparisons on
an intercontinental scale. To begin by asserting a world-wide synchroneity is clearly to
pre-judge the question before the trial has begun.
Lithologies in cyclic successions are obviously controlled by the environment of
deposition. Our survey has shown that cycle types, irregularities and lateral changes in
types are themselves largely a function of the environment. It is therefore manifestly
ludicrous to attempt to find a single control for cyclic sedimentation. An argument
over the origin of cyclothems is absurd; the argument must always deal with a particu-
lar cyclothem or a carefully defined class of cyclothems (BEERBOWER, 1964, p.41).
When considering possible controls we follow ROBERTSONS view (1952, pp.515-516):
Only if these [local mechanisms] fail to convince us of their adequacy is it
permissible to go further afield into the more speculative realms of climate, regional
earth-pulsations, planetary movements or cosmic influences.
The obvious local effects to be considered at first are those which are inherent
in the sedimentary processes responsible for the accumulation of the succession. It
will of course be remembered that in all cases it is necessary to suppose an overall
subsidence and in the first instance this can be taken as effectively uniform in rate.
SEDIMENTARY CONTROL
Awareness of the importance of this type of control has had to await detailed evidence
from sedimentological studies, many of which have been forthcoming only in the last
two decades. This is especially evident in facies which are recognised as marginal in
development and probably deltaic in origin.
SEDIMENTARY CONTROL 243
The work of H.N. Fisk and many others has led to an understanding of delta
growth which throws an entirely new light on the origin of many cycles. The sequence
of lithologies encountered in many Carboniferous cycles bears precise comparison
with that sequence summarised by SCRUTON (1960) from the Mississippi. And the
periodic changes in sub-delta active growth must have played a large part in cyclothem
development. I t is evident that these changes are inevitable in any delta. As outward
growth takes place the gradient of the main channel is reduced. Areas around the
active sub-delta continue to subside to lower levels and crevassing upstream from the
main channel may succeed in diverting much of the drainage to the new low spots. Such
a diversion is likely to be maintained, until again, sub-delta growth is successful in
extending the river, gradients are decreased and crevassing again becomes likely. The
system is largely self-regulating and incorporates an in-built feed-back mechanism
which like many processes in engineering inevitably sets up a rhythmic succession of
events. A further feed-back mechanism is found in the growth of peat which in its
accumulation contains the mechanism of its own decline. Combined in the sedimentary-
edaphic control theory the two systems perhaps provide a comprehensive explanation
of cyclicity for the majority of coal-bearing cyclothems.
Some anomalies arise when comparison is made between ancient and modern
sequences. One of these is the apparent development of a sand layer over the previous
delta sequence (SCRUTON, 1960). The sand layer is formed by reworking of the under-
lying deltaic sediments as the sea transgresses across the subsiding area. This situation
is very rare in older rocks. I t is uncommon because many of the local cycles, say in
the Coal Measures, are probably the result of local subsidence in on-delta areas and
the region never became truly marine; the area was never exposed sufficiently to allow
strong stirring and reworking of previous deposits. But it is also true that in those cases
where true marine conditions penetrated at the beginning of the cycle, sandstones are
still almost unheard of. Only in the exceptional cyclothems of the Wealden area (see
pp.72-78) is there any sign of reworking of previous deposits as the transgression goes
on. Does the absence of this sandstone mean that the delta model with sedimentation
control must be abandoned? One would think not. 1s it possible that thelocal geog-
raphy of the Mississippi area does not cover all conditions? I t would be surprising
if it did. An alternative geographical model and one which seems to be very likely in the
context of northern Europe or America in Carboniferous times is of deltas being built
out very rapidly on to a shallow, widespread platform rather than into a deep region
like the Gulf of Mexico. Such conditions in Carboniferous times might cut down the
generation of waves and inhibit reworking of previous deposits. Another factor might
have been the very extensive deposits of peat which in themselves would resist rework-
ing, and in any case could not provide material for a sand.
Sedimentation may have exerted an indirect effect on cyclic development by way
of compaction. It is possible that the variable accumulation of sand, shale and peat
would lead to differential subsidence on compaction. If compaction were spasmodic,
perhaps after a critical load of overburden were reached, this mechanism may have
caused the development of some cycles.
244 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
Flood-plain, fining-upwards sequences as recognised in the Alpine Molasse, the
British Old Red Sandstone and deposits of other regions are a similar case to deltaic
sequences in that experimental work and studies on recent rivers have led to an im-
mense improvement in the interpretation of older sediments and the recognition of
cycles (J. R. L. ALLEN, 1965a,b; VISHER, 1965). These cycles are also the result of the
inherent instability of channel development in the flood plain, and a succession built
up in this environment inevitably has a repetitive nature. In BEERBOWERS (1964)
nomenclature the cycles are due to an autocyclic mechanism inherent in the sedimen-
tation regime. Deltaic and flood-plain cycles represent what ROBERTSON (1 948)
called distributive sequences, in which differentiation of materials took place during
transportation. Supply of debris could be continuous or nearly so. Robertson also
distinguished a group of sequences which involved successive deliveries of material.
He supposed that differentiation of the debris took place during settling and graded
beds resulted. Varved clays were given as one example of these settlement-grading
sequences. If varved clays involve underflows as suggested in Chapter 3 then the
name settlement-grading is not really appropriate. A more general term such as
distributive sequence, supply spasmodic would cover deposits resulting from settle-
ment as well as varved clays and turbidite sequences where material in discontinuous
supply is transported by underflows.
The sequence of structures within the sandstone units of flysch sediments
appears to be entirely controlled by a sedimentary process. Apart from a number of
workers who appeal to climatic and other factors, most would favour an origin
involving turbidity currents with a varying influence from bottom currents (Chapter
9). A feed-back mechanism to give rise to repeated sandstones in this case is not so
clear as in the delta model and there are a number of ways in which turbidity currents
might be triggered OR. Supposing a fairly constant accumulation of material inshore
then a certain periodicity is possible in the turbidity currents because they are most
likely to be generated after the accumulation of a considerable amount of debris. Earth-
quakes may be the most likely cause of the currents but they will obviously be much
more successful in originating turbidity currents from an unstable mass of sediment.
Where submarine canyons are situated off river mouths there is also the possibility of
currents originating from flood debris. I n this instance the ultimate control is one of
climate, just as in glacial varves when the coarse layers are derived from summer
meltwaters, some of them probably also from underflowing turbidity currents.
TECTONIC CONTROL
Even when sedimentary factors have been considered, some workers still think they
are inadequate. The complicated nature of certain cyclothems, the widespread nature
of certain horizons (mainly limestone, sometimes coals, occasionally marine shales)
and the apparent sudden incoming of a marine phase into, for example, the Yoredale
rhythm of the north of England are appealed to in an attempt to show the inadequacy
EUSTATIC CONTROL 245
of sedimentary controls. We have shown in the case of many Carboniferous cycles that
there is doubt concerning the nature and constancy of many cyclothems and that for
most occurrences cutting off of the supply of debris allied with continuous subsidence
would be enough to cause a transgression. Rising base-level means aggradation in
upstream portions of rivers and inevitably the transgressive portion of the cycle
reverts suddenly to marine facies. Suggestions of variability of supply due to successive
movements in the basin coupled very often with uplift in the source (WELLER, 1956;
HUDSON, 1924; etc., see Chapters 4 and 5) would appear to be due to inadequate
appreciation of sedimentary distributive mechanisms. Sudden downdropping of the
floor would provide an effective cause of cycle development and it is maintained with
justification by proponents of diastrophic controls that faulting tends to be intermittent.
BOTT (1964) contended that erosion in source areas would lead to isostatic adjustments,
made possible by flow of material in the mantle. Most of this flow, taking place locally,
would cause subsidence in the basins around the source-land. Subsidence, according
to Bott, would be controlled by pre-existing lines of weakness along which fault-
movements would be spasmodic.
Some of the arguments concerning diastrophic control of cycles arose before
detailed sedimentological evidence was accumulated. But it would be foolish to deny
that diastrophic movements were not important in sedimentation. They almost
certainly control the overall environment of sedimentation and determine the general
character of the sediment but it is difficult in the present state of knowledge to point to
any cyclothem and say in this case there must have been diastrophic control. If it is a
cycle of small extent then sedimentary controls may have been sufficient to cause its
development. If it is very widespread, say, continent-wide, then questions of correlation
arise and it may be suggested that further efforts at correlation could prove the event
to be world wide and more likely to be due to a climatic or a eustatic mechanism.
EUSTATIC CONTROL
Eustatic changes can be induced either by alternating glaciations and deglaciations,
during which sea water is locked up on land as ice and subsequently remelted, or by
changes in the cubic capacity of the ocean basins as a result of vertical (epeirogenic)
movements of sectors of the ocean floor. The former phenomenon has been termed
glacio-eustasy, the latter tectono-eustasy (FAIRBRIDGE, 1961). Many years ago Suess
proposed that positive movements of sea level could result from the displacement of
sea water by sedimentation from the continents but it is now known that the rate of
sedimentation over the ocean floor is inadequate to produce a significant displacement.
The world-wide changes of sea level most familiar to geologists are glacio-
eustatic, and took place during the Pleistocene. I t is generally believed, however, that
the present world climate is abnormal, and that during most of well-recorded geological
history polar ice caps did not exist or were negligible in size, since reliable evidence of
extensive glaciation is confined to the Pleistocene, the Late Palaeozoic and, more
246 GENBRAL CONCLUSIONS
doubtfully, the late Precambrian. It follows that any important world-wide changes
of sea level deducible from the stratigraphical record at other times must almost
certainly owe their origin to oceanic epeirogeny (HALLAM, 1963a; DOTT, 1964).
Moreover, the role of glaciation and deglaciation in sea-level changes in, for instance,
the Late Palaeozoic has not been evaluated and it cannot be assumed without question
that such changes necessarily resulted from the operation of this factor alone.
Though pioneered by such eminent geologists as E. Suess in Europe and T. C.
Chamberlain in North America, GRABAU (1936) was perhaps the first to give a clear
formulation of the relationship of epeirogeny and eustasy and its influence on the
stratigraphical record in his so-called Pulsation Theory. He maintained that a series
of major transgressions and regressions of the sea over extensive parts of the continents
was the result of changes of sea level rather than orogenic or epeirogenic movements
on the continents, as others had suggested. The thesis was illustrated by examples
from the Palaeozoic, with one or two transgressions and regressions within each period.
With regard to the nature of the epeirogenic movements responsible for changes
of sea level, modern oceanographic research has indicated some possibilities. Much
attention has been directed recently to the huge ridges or rises on the sea floor, such
as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise and the Darwin Rise. The latter, in the
West Pacific, is studded with flat-topped seamounts or guyots, and atolls, and it can
be proved from shallow-water fossils dredged from the tops of guyots or collected from
borehole cores from the atolls that the Darwin Rise has been subsiding since about the
mid Cretaceous (MENARD, 1964). Menard estimated that sinking of the rise must have
resulted in a lowering of sea level of some 100 m in the last 100 million years, a rate of
change of 0.1 cm/lO3 years. On the other hand Tertiary elevation of the East Pacific
and other youthful oceanic rises must have raised sea level some 300 m, a rate of
change of 0.3 cm/lO3 years. This rate of change is much slower than that due to the
formation and melting of Pleistocene glaciers, which ranges between 102 and 103
cm/103 years.
If there had been no other major epeirogenic movements affecting the ocean
floor since the Cretaceous there would have been a net rise instead of a net lowering
of sea level. There are a number of indications, however, that substantial areas along
the continental margins have subsided during this time (HALLAM, 1963a). The well-
known deep sea trenches of the Pacific borders and Caribbean are Tertiary or Quatern-
ary features, while extensive areas now occupied by the Mediterranean and Black
Seas and the seas of Indonesia and Melanesia, to name just some, appear to have
undergone some subsidence within the last 25 million years or so.
Extrapolating backwards in time according to uniformitarian principles we
can appreciate that at a given time a summation of the epeirogenic movements is far
more likely to have resulted in a net positive or negative eustatic change than in a
condition of exact balance. Hence a condition of stable sea level would be exceptional
even if polar ice caps and substantial glaciers were missing from the earths surface.
Turning to cyclic sedimentation, we cannot agree with the contention of
WELLS (1960) that eustatic changes of sea level are the most important controlling
EUSTATIC CONTROL 247
mechanism, since we are satisfied that the great majority of so-called cycles are the
result of processes intrinsic to sediment transport and deposition. Nevertheless eustatic
control seems a plausible explanation for a minority of Late Palaeozoic cycles in tran-
sitional niarine-continental environments, characterised by laterally extensive marine
limestones or shales. Whether the ultimate control in a given instance was climatic or
tectonic appears impossible to determine. While glacio-eustatic transgressions and
regressions are evidently far more rapid than tectono-eustatic ones, there is still more
than enough time available for the deposition of major sedimentary cycles with signifi-
cant clastic components.
Reasons are given in Chapters 6 and 7 for believing that sea-level changes were
responsible for the deposition of major epicontinental marine cycles in the Mesozoic
and Tertiary of Europe and North America. Eustasy provides one of the most plausible
mechanisms to account for major evaporite cycles and might even have had an
influence on certain non-marine clastic cycles. In none of the instances quoted need the
sea level have altered by more than a few metres, possibly, in extreme cases, a few
tens of metres.
One can only speculate about the actual amount of change in given instances.
Let us take 15 m as a reasonable figure for the rise of sea level in the Early Toarcian
(see Chapter 6). Taking 20 million years as a round figure for the duration of the Lias
gives 1 million years as the average duration of an ammonite zone. A 15 m eustatic
rise during the three Lower Toarcian zones is equivalent to a rate of change of 0.5
cm/lO3 years. Making due allowance for the assumptions involved in this calculation,
itisgratifyingto find that this figure is of the same order of magnitude as those calculat-
ed by Menard.
The types of sedimentary cycle that are being discussed are presumably the
consequence of comparatively minor eustatic oscillations superimposed on the more
familiar rises and falls of sea level which caused the major transgressions and re-
gressions known from the stratigraphical record. As a result it will only rarely be
possible to seek the best kind of independent supporting evidence for eustatic control,
namely intercontinental correlation by means of fossils. Nevertheless there are a
number of distinguishing characteristics which can be used to establish a fair degree of
probability:
( I ) Widespread lithological horizons developed more or less constantly over an
area measurable in thousands of square miles (correlation being based either on
distinctive fossil content or on continuity of exposures).
(2) Facies indicative of deposition in a shallow-water stable tectonic regime, e.g.,
limestones, shales, subordinate well-sorted and relatively pure sandstones.
(3) Lithological changes up the stratal succession suggestive of deepening sea
correlating with marine transgressions elsewhere and vice versa.
( 4) Independence of such changes from local epeirogenic movements (producing
sedimentary basins and intervening swells) as indicated by regional variations in rock
thickness and facies.
An attractive feature of the eustatic control hypothesis is that it provides a
248 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
satisfying explanation of the so-called asymmetry of many cycles of different types
without having to invoke intermittent subsidence. This asymmetry has the common
characteristic that the transition to the presumed deeper water or more off-shore marine
facies is relatively sharp, and such evidently transgressive deposits frequently bear
evidence of relatively slow deposition. As discussed in Chapter 6, positive and negative
movements of sea level of similar speeds must act in such a way that the transgressive
parts of eustatically-controlled sedimentary cycles will normally be more condensed
than the regressive parts.
I t should of course be borne in mind that regional epeirogenic movements on
the continents may complicate matters. Thus an epeirogenic rise of a continental
sector will act in opposition to a rise of sea level and may even induce a regression
locally. The deposits resulting from a rise of sea level are indeed bound to be dia-
chronous to some degree unless the land being transgressed is completely flat! There
is the additional complication that geodetic changes involving migration of the poles
may induce movements of sea level over fairly extensive sectors of the earths surface
(FAIRBRIDGE, 1961). For such reasons as these some uncertainty is likely to remain
even when data are abundant.
CLIMATIC CONTROL
In a recent presidential address to the Geological Society of London, HOLLINGWORTH
(1962) suggested that climatic variations were the primary cause of many widely
differering types of sedimentary cycle. He included among the causal factors the oscil-
lations of sea level due to the advance and retreat of ice caps during alternating glacial
and interglacial periods. This process, in which climatic fluctuations only indirectly
affect sedimentation, is more appropriately dealt with in the section on eustatic control.
We shall confine our attention here to the direct influence that variations in temperature
and precipitation may have on sedimentation.
Climatic variations are most evident in the different seasons of the year, and
most obviously revealed in lacustrine and marine varve deposits, consisting of alter-
nating layers of different grain size, of organic and mineral matter and of different
types of evaporite. There can be little dispute about such annual cycles, even though
complications of interpretation exist, as discussed in Chapters 3, 7 and 8.
Longer-period astronomical cycles have also been invoked, however, and about
these there is considerable uncertainty, both about the response of sedimentation to
climate and the response of climate to astronomical cycles. The difficulties and
disagreements that currently inhibit understanding are well brought out in a recent
symposium on climatic change, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of
Sciences in 1961.
In the present context, the most familiar astronomical cycle after the annual
is the so-called 1 1-year sunspot cycle. Meteorologists cannot agree even about this.
Thus BRYSON and DUTTON (1961) undertook a power-spectrum analysis of yearly
CLIMATIC CONTROL 249
sunspot numbers from 1760 to the present day, which clearly revealed to them an
ll-year cycle. On the other nand WILLIAMS (1961) has pointed out that the so-called
1 1-year cycle may vary in length from 8 to 16 years, so that the 1 1-year period may be
a mathematical abstraction. One analysis revealed a 22, not an ll-year cycle. I t
appears that the same data may give different results according to the technique used!
Sunspot cycles of longer period have also been claimed. WILLETT (1961) has
suggested that an 89-year cycle is probably related to significant world-wide climatic
changes.
Owing to the variable gravitational effects of themoon, sunandplanets, ( I ) the
position of the equinoxes and solstices with respect to the perihelion, (2) the obliquity
of the earths ecliptic, and (3) the eccentricity of the earths orbit, vary with average
periodicities of approximately 21,000,41,000 and 97,000 years respectively. The earths
climate has supposedly been influenced by these major cycles, which have frequently
been invoked by students of cyclic sedimentation (see for instance GILBERT, 1895;
WZNKLER, 1926; BRADLEY, 1929; SANDER, 1936; VAN HOUTEN, 1962).
It is still not clear just how fluctuations in solar energy affect the earths climate.
Variations in ultraviolet radiation intensity appear to affect ozone concentration in
the stratosphere and this in turn affects temperature at the earths surface (PLASS,
1961). Whereas increase in the ozone mixing ratio probably results in increased surface
temperatures combined with reduced precipitation, increase in the solar constant or
in the atmospheric carbon dioxide mixing ratio probably leads to increased tempera-
tures combined with increased precipitation (KRAUS, 1961). Climate need not vary,
furthermore, in a uniform manner over the whole earth. Any factor which causes
increased surface temperature probably also causes increased evaporation over the
oceans and hence increased cloudiness. In low latitudes and warmer seasons this
increased cloudiness would tend to offset the original temperature increase. In high
latitudes and colder seasons increased cloudiness would, in contrast, tend to amplify
the temperature increase. Precipitation might also be expected to vary regionally. It
appears that it is not yet possible to relate sunspot cycles in a simple way to climatic
changes expressible in terms of temperature and precipitation.
The difficulties are compounded when the influence of climate on sedimentation
is considered. A few examples will illustrate some of the complexities involved.
LANGBEIN and SCHUMM (1958) made a study of sediment yield in a drainage basin in
relation to mean annual precipitation. They found no simple relationship, with sedi-
ment yield increasing steadily in proportion to precipitation. The yield reached a
maximum at 10-14 inches precipitation/year and decreased sharply both in more arid
conditions (because of decreased runom and more humid conditions (because of the
increased density of vegetation cover). GARNER (1959) studied the influence of climate
on alluviation in a part of the Andes. Changes in precipitation evidently played an
important but not readily predictable role. In arid conditions weathering is predomi-
nantly mechanical and results in the production of coarse residuals which are not
readily transported effectively to base level. The sediments deposited during such
climatic phases are characteristically aeolian silts and sands. In humid conditions
250 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
chemical weathering is of major importance. Residuals are gradually removed, to-
gether with soluble mineral matter, and clay and sand transported by rivers, to be
deposited at base level. Garner proposed a principle of sedimentary lag, that is,
sedimentary products of the arid phase are only removed to base level during the
succeeding humid phase.
The relationship of rainfall precipitation to sedimentation may sometimes,
however, be relatively straightforward, as revealed for instance in Searles Lake,
California, by FLINT and GALE (1958). These workers were able to demonstrate that
evaporites were deposited during an arid phase, and clays during a pluvial phase of the
Pleistocene.
A major objection to invoking astronomically-controlled climatic cycles (other
than the annual) to account for cyclic sedimentation in the past is that it involves
extrapolating from a limited and not well understood body of data extending back
no more than a few centuries. I t should surprise no one that BRYSON and DUTTON
(1961), using the same power spectrum technique which so clearly revealed an 11-year
sunspot cycle, had no comparable success with a glacial varve sequence from Sweden.
The results from this sequence resembled those obtainable from a series of random
numbers! We are provoked to comment that even if they had recognised significant
periodicities their interpretation would remain equivocal.
For the reasons discussed above, attempts to relate sedimentary cycles to long-
term climatic or astronomical cycles are bound to remain highly speculative. Without
ruling out completely the operation of such long-term cycles we wish to stress our
belief that there are adequate mechanisms to account for most types of cyclic sedi-
mentation, which have nothing to do with the direct influence of climate. Those types
of cycle, such as minor alternations of clay and fine-grained limestone, that seem less
readily explicable by these mechanisms, discussed elsewhere in this chapter, may well
have a diagenetic origin (see Chapter 6).
CYCLES AND TIME
Various figures have been given for the time involved in the formation of cycles (apart
from varves). VAN LECKWIJ CK (1949), for example, took 50,000 years as a likely length
for the formation of one cycle in the Belgian Carboniferous; JESSEN (1961) suggested
20,000-30,000 years for a cyclothem in the Carboniferous in Germany, WESTOLL
(1962) 200,000 years for a model Yoredale cycle and MERRIAM (1963) 350,000 years
for a Kansan cyclothem. In another facies, KUENEN (1953) suggested intervals varying
between 1,000 years and 100,000 years between successive turbidites in Lower Palaeozoic
rocks in Britain. These estimates provoke the reflection that such exercises may be
unprofitable. Besides the very real difficulties involved in absolute dating and correla-
tion there remains the fundamental objection that regular periodicity of the con-
trolling mechanism is assumed. Even when this is the case there is no guarantee that
such regularity will be expressed in the sedimentation.
CONCLUDING REMARKS 25 1
CONCLUDING REMARKS
We have felt obliged in these concluding remarks to strike a cautionary note with
regard to certain aspects of cyclic sedimentation. But it is our belief that the search
for and the discussion of cyclic sedimentation has an important role to play in
understanding geological successions. There has been recently an enormous interest
and effort directed to the detailed analysis and interpretation of individual lithologies.
Whatever ones ultimate conclusions about the regularity or even the reality of sedi-
mentary cycles, their study, perforce, directs attention to the relatively neglected
subject of stratigraphic relationships, that is, the distribution of facies through space
and time. This, in effect the study of changing environments, is the very essence of
geology.
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REFERENCES INDEX
ADAMS, J . E., 207, 210, 211
ALDERMAN, A. R., 65
ALDINGER, H., 174
ALLEN, A. D., 40
ALLEN, J . R. L., 2, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28,
ALLEN, P., 2, 77, 73, 75, 77, 78, 79
ANDERSON, J. A. R., 155, 156
ANDERSON, R. Y., 19, 60, 61, 63, 66, 67, 195,
ANDERSON, T. B., 229
ANDRESEN, M. L., 108
ANDRICHUK, J. M., 201,202
ANTEVS, E., 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58,
ANTROBUS, E. S. A., 47
ARCHANGELSKY, A. D., 194
ARKELL, W. J ., 117, 183, 184,240
ARKHANGEL'SKAYA, N. A., 199, 207
ARKLE, T., 102
ARRHENIUS, G., 170
ASHLEY, G. H., 100
BAILLIE, A. D., 201
BAINS, G. W., 44
BALLANCE, P. F., 218
BARKELL, C. A., 204,205
BARRETT, P. J., 40, 41
BARROIS, C., 142
BASSETT, D. A., 219
BEERBOWER, .I. R., 2, 7, 8, 101, 102, 107, 109,
11 3, 1 15,242, 244
BERSIER, A., 33, 34, 142, 150
BISSAT, W. S., 150
BLUCK, B. J., 141, 149
BOGER, H., 234
BOND, G., 39, 40
BOOKER, F. W., 42
BORCHERS, R., 44
BORCHERT, H., 199, 205, 207,209, 211,212
BORNHAUSER, M., 186
BOTT, M. H. P., 150, 152,245
BRANSON, C. C., 87, 92,94, 97, 100, 101, 102
BRIGGS, G., 221
BOUMA. A. H.. 216.217. 219.220
29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 41, 126, 224, 244
196, 197,209, 213,214
59, 60
BRADLEY, W. H., 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68,
192.249
B ~S C H , O., 199,211,213
BRAMLETTE, N., 194
BRINKMANN, R., 169, 170,234,235
BROUGH, J., 117, 119, 120, 150
BRUCKNER, W. D., 178, 180, 181
BRYSON, R. A., 61,248,250
CALDENIUS, C. D., 49
CALVER, M. A., 236,237
CALVERT, S. E., 194
CAROZZI, A., 178, 180
CASEY, 0. P., 38
CLARKE, A. M., 134, 149
CLINE, L. M., 221
COLBERT, E. H., 102, 11 1
COLLINS, W. H., 49
CONOLLY, J. R., 31
COPELAND, M. J., 104
CRAIG, G. Y., 226
CRAMPTON, C. B., 61, 69, 70, 71
CROSS, A. T., 102
CROUZEL, F., 34
CUMMINS, W. A., 35
DAWSON, J. W., 4
DEAN, J. M. A., 131, 151
DEEVEY, E. S., 192
DEFFEYES, K. S., 163
DE GEER, G., 49, 50, 54, 55, 57, 60
DE LA BECHE, H. T., 4, 150
DELEAU, P., 150
DELLWIG, L. F., 209,212
DELMER, A., 142, 150
DE RAAF, J. F. M., 33, 138, 139, 140, 141, 222
DE SWARDT, A. M. J., 38
DEWEY, J . F., 221, 226
DINELEY, D. L., 35
DIXON, E. E. L., 158, 159,237
DOEGLAS, D. J., 30
DOTT JR., R. H., 159, 160,246
DOTY, R. W., 105, 108
DUFF, P. McL. D., 7, 8, 9, 11,43, 134, 135, 139,
144, 149, 150, 151, 156,241 _ _ I
Bomoz, A., 142
DUNHAM, K. C., 7, 117, 120, 121, 122, 150, 154
272
REFERENCE INDEX
DLITTON, R. A., 61,248, 250
DZENS-LITOVSKIY, A. I., 200
DZULYNSKI, S., 35, 59, 215, 217, 218, 219, 221,
222, 223,225,226
EDEN, R. A., 7, 53, 132, 144
EDEN, W. J., 55
EDWARDS, W., 7, 133,233
ELIAS, M. K., 97, 98, 111, 235, 236
ELLIOTT, R. E., 149
EMERY, K. O., 194
EVANS, W. B., 135, 136, 137, 138, 150, 154
EYLES, V. A., 126
FAHNESTOCK, R. K., 21
FAIRBRIDGE, R. W., 245, 248
FEARNSIDES, W. G., 2
FERM, J . C., 81
FICHTER, H. J., 178, 179, 181, 238
FIEGE, K., 2, 3, 142, 143, 144, 145, 150, 162
FISCHER, A. G., 162, 188
FISHER, W. L., 186
FISH, H. N., 108, 141, 243
FLINT, R. F., 209, 250
FORSYTH, I., 129, 130
Fox, W. T., 16
FRANCIS, E. H., 83, 118, 126, 127, 130, 151
FRANCIS, W., 150
FRASER, H. J., 55
FREBOLD, H., 172,238
FRIEDMAN, S. A., 108
FRIEND, P. F., 33
FUCHTBAUER, H., 170
FULLER, J . G. C. M., 202
GALE, W. A., 209, 250
GARNER, H. J., 249
GEIJ ER, P., 187
GEIKIE, A., 150
GEORGE, T. N., 117
GIBSON, W., 133
GILBERT, G. K., 165, 249
GLASS, H. D., 81, 107, 108
GOLDSCHMIDT, H., 170
GOODCHILD, J . G., 150
GOODLET, G. A., 7, 114, 128, 130, 150, 152, 154
GRABAU, A. W., 246
GRAY, H. H., 87, 100, 111
GREENSMITH, J . T., 128, 131, 132, 149, 150
GRIBNITZ, K. H., 142
GRINDLEY, G. W., 40, 41, 113
GRIGORYEV, V. N., 199, 207
HAITES, T. B., 144, 154
HALLAM, A., 2,20, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 172,
173, 174, 176, 177, 180, 184, 187, 191, 194,
FEOFILOVA, h. P., 147, 148, 150
207, 235, 238, 239, 240, 246
HAM, W. E., 202, 203
HAMILTON, D., 185
HANSEN, S., 50, 51, 52, 53, 54
HARBAUGH, J . W., 16, 17
HARGRAVES, R. B., 44
HARMS, J . C., 21
HATTIN, D. E., 97
HAVLENA, U., 142, 150
HEIDORN, F., 172
HEMINGWAY, J . E., 149, 177, 189, 190
HENDERSON, J . H., 16
HERMAN, G., 204, 205
HIND, W., 4, 117, 150
HOLLINGWORTH, S. E., 150, 248
HOLLMAN, R., 173
HOLMES, A., 54
HOPKINS, M. E., 108
HORNER, N. G., 50, 51, 53 55, 59
HOW, W. B., 92
Hsu, K. J., 226
HUBERT, 3. F., 105, 108,220, 221,227
HUDSON, R. G. S., 117, 120, 121, 150, 245
HULSEMAN, J., 194
HULT DE. GEER, E., 53
ILLINC, L. V., 163
IMBRIE, J., 18, 96, 111, 235, 236
JAANUSSON, V., 173
J ABLOKOV, V. S., 3, 146, 148, 150
J ACKSON, T. h., 61
J ACOB, K. , 38
J AMES, H. L., 187, 189
J ERZMANSKA, A., 222
J ESSEN, W., 5, 145, 146, 150, 154, 233, 234, 250
JEWETT, J . M., 97
J OHNSON, G. A. L., 117, 119, 120, 122, 123, 124,
JOHNSTON, W. A., 53
JONES, 0. A., 187
HARRINGTON, H. J ., 40
149, 150
KAY, M., 102, 11 1
KELLAWAY, G. A., 177
KELLING, G., 141, 149, 224, 226, 227, 229
KENDALL, M. G., 2, 13
KING, P. B., 207
KINGMA, J . T., 222
KIRKLAND, D. W., 61, 63, 195, 209, 214
KLEIN, G. DE V., 221, 227
KLUPFEL, W., 171, 172, 173, 176, 178, 181, 238
KOOPMANS, L. H., 19, 60, 61, 67, 196, 197, 213
KOPERINA, V. V., 146, 147, 149, 150, 154
KOPSTEIN, F. P. H. W., 153, 154
KOREJ WO, K., 142, 150
KORN, H., 194, 196
REFERENCE INDEX
273
KOSANKE, R. M., 85, 87, 97, 105, 108, 109
KRAUS, E. B., 249
KREJCI-GRAF, K., 189
KRISHNAN, M. S., 38
KROENLEIN, G. A., 207
KRUMBEIN, W. C., 18, 148,225
KSIAZKIEWICZ, M., 216, 221, 223, 228, 229
KUENEN, P. H., 35, 55, 57, 58, 59, 171, 221, 222,
KUHN, R., 211
223,224, 225,250
LAGAAY, R., 153, 154
LANDSBERG, H. E., 61
LANG, W. B., 209
LANGBEIN, W. B., 115, 249
LAPORTE, L. F., 18, 96,235,236
LIEBENBERG, W. R., 44
LOMBARD, A., 142, 168
L~TZE, F., 199,205, 207,211,212,213
LOWMAN, S. W., 186
MACGREGOR, M., 126,
MACLAREN, C., 4, 150
MAKOWSKI, A., 150
MANGIN, J. P., 35,222
MARSCHALKO, R., 226
MARTIN, H., 194, 197
MAUBEUGE, P. L., 191
MCBRIDE, E. F., 221
MCCRONE, A. W.. 111.
128, 129
236
MCG~GOR, v. R., 33, 40
MCKEE, E. D., 204
MCKENZIE, P. J ., 42
MEHTA, D. R. S., 38
MENARD, H. W., 223, 246,247
MERRIAM, D. F., 3, 12, 92,94,97, 152, 250
MIGLIORINI, C. I., 59, 222, 223
MILLER, H., 117, 150
MILNE, D., 4. 150
MOORE, d., 114, 117, 121, 122, 124, 125, 149,
150, 152
MOORE, H. R., 192
MOORE, R. C., 3, 1 1 , 12, 82, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92,
Moss, A. J ., 224
MUDJ E, M. R., 108
MUIR, R. O., 63, 199, 205, 207, 209, 211, 212
MURPHY, M. A,, 227
MURRAY, TI. H., 113, 130
93, 94, 95, 97, 107, 109
NATLAND, N. L., 221
NEDERLOF, H. M., 13,229
NEEF, G., 229,230, 231
NEWELL, N. D., 240
NIPKOW, H. F., 65, 66, 194
NIYOGI, D., 38
NOWAK, J., 228
OULIANOFF, N., 222
PANIN, N., 35, 38
PAW, T. G., 216
PATTERSON, J., 159, 171
PEACH, B. N., 2, 4, 5, 6
PEARN, W. C., 11, 12,241
PERFILIEV, B. V., 65
PEPPER, J. F., 114
PETTIJOHN, F. J., 49
PHILLIPS, J ., 4, 117, 150
PIRLET, H., 158, 159
PLASS, G. N., 249
POTTER, P. E., 20, 81, 82, 87, 107, 108
PRENTICE, J. E., 139, 226
PRESTON, F. W., 16, 17
PRWOST, P., 142, 150, 154
RADOMSKI, A,, 221
RAMSBOTTOM, W. H. C., 152,233
RAO, P. V., 38
RATTIGAN, J. H., 36, 37, 38
RAYNER, D. H., 61, 62, 65
READ, W. A., 129, 130, 131, 151, 152
REGER, D. B., 99
REID, I. W., 150, 191
REINECKE, L., 44,47
RICHARDS, H. G., 204
RICHEY, J. E., 35, 128
RICHTER-BERNBURG, G., 210, 211, 212, 213
ROBERTSON, T., 2, 7, 126, 129, 130, 133, 149,
150, 154,242,244
ROGERS, M. J., 104
RUBEY, W. W., 195
RUSNAK, G. A., 108
RUTTEN, M. G., 142, 150
SABINS, F. F. J., 103
SACKIN, M. J., 12
SAKAMOTO, T., 3, 189
SANDER, B., 2, 161, 249
SARIN, D. D., 162, 163
SAURAMO, M., 50, 51, 55, 60
SCHAUB, H., 216
SCHEMEL, M. P., 102
SCHLANGER, S. O., 227
SCHLEIGER, N. W., 228,229
SCHUMM, S. A., 115,249
SCHWARZACHER, W., 2, 14, 15, 150, 160, 161,
SCOTT, K. M., 221,227
SCRUTON, P. C., 199,208,243
SEARS, J . D., 103
SEIBOLD, E., 167, 168, 169, 192, 196
SCHMIDT, c., 142, 150
168,241
274
REFERENCE INDEX
SEIBOLD, I., 167
SEILACHER, A., 221
SHARPE, J . W. N., 44, 45, 46, 47
SHCHERBMA, V. N., 209
SHEARMAN, 0. J ., 204
SHELDON, R. P., 191, 192, 193
SHIELLS, K. A. G., 122, 152
SHINN, E. A., 163
SHOSTAKOVICH, V. B., 196
SHROCK, R. R., 84
SIEVER, R., 107, 108, 109
SIGNORINI, R., 2, 16
SIMOENS, G., 150
SIMPSON, G. C., 113
SLACZKA, A., 218, 226
SMITH, A. H. V., 155
SMITH, A. J ., 59, 215, 218, 229
SNEATH, P. H. A., 12
SOLL, H., 172
SPRENG, A. C., 168
STAMP, L. D., 185, 186
STEARNS, R. G., 107
STEWART, F. H., 199, 205, 208, 209, 210, 211
STILLE, H., 242
STRAHAN, A., 132
STUBBLEFIELD, C. J., 7, 133, 233
STURGEON, M. T., 100, 101, 102, 109
SUGDEN, W., 200
SWANN, D. H., 81, 87, 107, 109, 113, 114, 115
TAVENER-SMITH, P., 39
TEICHM~LLER, M., 154
TEICHM~LLER, R., 154
THEOBALD, N., 190
THIADENS, A. A., 144, 150, 154
TONKS, L. H., 133, 150
TROTTER, F. M., 150
TRUEMAN, A. E., 5, 81, 133, 136, 150, 154
TRWR A. A.,44
TULLOCH, W., 128
TWENHOFEL, W. H., 1
UDDEN, J. A., 4, 82, 83, 84, 111
SHEPARD, F. P., 6, 7, 87, 112
SKINNER, H. C. W., 65
SLOSS, L. L., 1
STOUT, w. E., 97, 99, 111
SUESS, E., 242, 246
SUJKOWSKI, 2. L., 165,229
UNRUG, R., 218,219,226
VAN DER HEIDE, S., 144, 150, 154
VAN HOUTEN, F. B., 61, 67, 69, 79, 80, 249
VAN LECKWIJCK, W., 6, 142, 143, 150, 233, 250
VASILYEV, G. V., 200
VASSOEVIC, N. B., 216
VAUGHAN, A., 158,237
VEEVERS, J. J ., 42, 43
VELLA, P., 185, 235, 237, 242
VISHER, G. S., 31, 244
VISSER, D. J. L., 44
VISTELIUS, A. D., 13, 241
VON BUBNOFF, s., 1 , 2
WALKER, R. G., 217,223, 224
WALTON, E. K., 7, 8, 9, 11, 35, 43, 59, 63, 134,
135, 144, 149, 150, 151, 156, 208, 217, 219,
221,222,223,224,226,241
WALTON, H. S., 128
WANLESS, H. R., 2, 6, 7, 18, 82, 83, 84, 87, 94,
95, 96, 37, 105, 106, 107, 108, 110, 111, 112,
113, 159, 170
WATERSTON, C. D., 70
WELCH, F. B. A., 177
WELLER, J . M., 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86,
87, 88,95,96, 105, 107, 109, 111, 112, 145, 245
WELLS, A. J ., 7, 8, 150, 154, 246
WELSH, W., 178,229
WESTOLL, T. S., 117, 126, 149, 150
WHEELER, H. E., 113, 130
WIEBOLS, J. H., 441
WIEGERT, R., 196
WILLETT, H. C., 249
WILLIAMS, D., 249
WILLS, L. J ., 117
WILSON, C. W., 107
WINKLER, A., 249
WOOD, A., 218,229
WOODLAND, A. W., 83, 135, 136, 137, 138, 150,
WRIGHT, W. B., 1, 132
WYLIE J R., C. R., 17
154
YOUNG, R. G., 3, 102, 103
ZELLER, E. J., 8
ZEMAN, J., 142, 150
ZLEGLER, B., 165, 168
ZHEMCHUZHNIKOV, Yu, A., 18, 147, 148, 150
SUBJECT INDEX
Abergavenny, 26
Aberystwyth Grits, 218, 229
Achanarras Limestone, 62, 63, 70
Adriatic Sea, 194
Africa, 38
Alabama, 186
Alberta, 168, 196
Albian, 217, 228
Alfredton, 230, 231
Algae, 88, 90, 91, 93, 97, 120, 121, 161, 162,
235,236
Allegheny Group, 98,99, 100, 102
Allerrad, 54
Alpes Maritimes, 219
Alps, 215, 222
Alsace, 212
Alum Bay, 186
Ammonites, 164, 170, 171, 172, 173, 178, 238
Ammonitico Rosso Superiore, 173
Amplitude spectrum, 19
Andes, 249
Anglo-Franco-Belgian Basin, 185
Antarctica, 33, 38, 40
Appalachians, 32, 215,221
Appalachian Basin, 81, 82, 97, 100, 101, 102
Aptian, 217
Aquitanian, 31, 32, 34
Arabia, 212
Archaean, 187
Arizona, 31, 82, 204
Arkansas, 221
Ashdown Pebble Bed, 74
Ashdown Sandstone, 74
Atlantic Ocean, 170
Australia, 38, 42, 65, 191
Austria, 161
Bahamas, 159, 161, 163, 181
Bajocian, 178
Balickera, 36
Ballagan Beds, 126
Barakar Series, 38
Barry, 175
Bashkirian, 83, 146
Basin and Range province, 47
Bathonian, 280
Bavaria, 35
Beacon System, 40, 41
Beardmore, 33
Beattie Limestone, 235, 236
Beaufort Series, 39
Belgium, 6, 142, 143, 158, 233, 250
Benbulbin Shale, 14, 16
Berea Sandstone, 114
Bessvatn, 56
Big Blue cycle, 97, 98
Bivalves, 93, 97, 98, 128, 132, 133, 134, 161, 164,
Black Hills, 194
Black Metals, 131
Black Sea, 190, 194,246
Blaine Formation, 202
Blue Lias, 163, 165, 166, 167, 168, 172, 180, 194
Bogota-type cycles, 86, 95
Borneo, 155, 156
Brachiopods, 98, 118, 121, 128, 129, 172, 233,
234,236
Brazil, 227
Breconian, 23, 27
Brereton cyclothem, 106
Brownstones, 32
Brunswick Formation, 79, 80
Burindi facies, 36
Caithness Flagstones, 69
California, 192, 194, 209, 216, 250
Callovian, 169, 240
Cambrian, 199, 219
Campanian, 219
Canada, 53, 57, 60, 61, 104
Cape Hatteras, 181
Cape Surprise Coal Measures, 41
Carboniferous, 2, 3,4, 15, 36, 38, 39,41,42,60,
63, 158, 160, 168, 215, 229, 234,237, 241, 242,
243,250
165,169,170, 171,172,233,234,236,237
- cycles, 81-102, 104-156, 158-161
- Limestone, 237
- stratigraphic classification, Europe, 83, 118
, U.S.A., 83, 89
Cardiff, 175
Caribbean Sea, 163,246
Carmel Formation, 204
_ _ -
276 SUBJECT INDEX
Carpathians, 35, 215, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221,
222,226, 229
Caspian Sea, 200
Castile Formation, 207, 209, 21 1
Catskill, 30, 32
Caucasus, 216
Cementstone Group, 126
Cenomanian, 178
Cerro Torro Formation, 221
Chase Group, 97
Cherokee Group, 92
Chert banding, 187, 189
Chesterian Series, 87, 113
Chile, 221
Cieszen Limestones, 220, 228
Clay Cross Marine Band, 236, 237
Clee Hills, 32
Cleveland Ironstone, 189
Climatic control, 67, 68, 69, 79, 80, 112, 113,
150, 161, 168, 180, 187, 192, 194, 195, 196,
209,211, 212,248
Clyde, 192
Coal Measures, 5, 9, 11, 33, 127, 129, 133-138,
Colorado, 72, 103
Compaction, 150, 154, 155
Composite sequence, 8, 134,220
Conemaugh Group, 98, 99, 100, 102
Corals, 118, 121, 172
Correlogram, 14, 15, 16
Cotham Beds, 185
Cottonwood Limestone, 235, 236
Cretaceous, 38, 72, 103, 170, 178, 179, 194, 216,
Crimea, 65
Cross association, 12
Croweburg-Verdigris cyclothem, 94
Cumberland Group, 104
Cycles, duration, 250
-, ideal (model), 8, 217, 221, 241
--,modal, 7, 134, 216, 220, 224, 225
-, nomenclature, 3
Cyclothems, 2
-, splitting, 11 1, 113
Dachstein Limestone, 161
Dakota Sandstone, 72
Dalwood Group, 42
Damuda System, 38
Dartry Limestone, 14, 16
Darwin Rise, 246
Deep River Basin, 30
Delaware Basin, 199, 207, 209
Denmark, 50, 54
Derbyshire, 233
Devon, 166,226
Devonian, 30, 31, 32, 192, 196, 197, 201, 202,
141, 142, 146, 147, 149, 150, 154, 155
220,221,238,240, 246
209, 215, 228, 229
Deutenhauser Schichten, 35
Diagenetic segregation, 165, 189
Diastrophic-control theory, 107, 11 1
Dittonian, 24, 25, 26, 32
Dogger, 172, 178
Domerian, 176, 177, 189, 191, 238, 239
Donetz Basin, 146
Dorset, 166, 175
Downtonian, 22, 32
Dryas, 54
Dunkard Group, 101, 102, 107, 109, 114, 115
Dwyka Series, 39, 40
Eastern Interior Basin, 81, 82
East Indies, 216
East Pacific Rise, 246
East Pennine Coalfield, 9, 11, 133, 134, 135
Ecca Series, 39
Echinoderms, 178
Edaphic factors, 155, 156
England,4,9, ll,21, 72, 132, 166, 174, 178, 185,
234, 244
Eocene, 65, 67, 185, 186, 187
Esteriids, 69
Europe, 5, 20, 49, 83, 176, 177, 187, 215, 243
Eurypterids, 64
Eustatic control, 20, 115, 131, 139, 156, 162,
167, 171, 176, 177, 178, 181, 185, 187, 202,
204,208,245-247
Extra terrestrial control, 145, 146
Fairlight Clay, 74
Falla Formation, 33
Field Beds, 70, 71
Fife, 151
Fining-upwards units, 30, 244
Finland, 50, 54
Finscvatn, 56
Fish, 69, 72, 128, 129, 133, 164, 234
Flakevatn, 56
Flood-plain sequences, 244
Florida, 161, 181
Flysch, 35, 216,222
Foraminifera, 88, 90, 91, 93, 98, 167, 170, 180,
Fordon, 205, 209,210
Forest Sandstone, 40
Fourier Series, 16, 17
France, 171, 174
Gastropods, 72, 233
Genesee Shale. 192
221, 235
Germany, 5, 142, 154, 162, 167, 168, 172, 174,
213. 250
Gilmore Volcanic Group, 36
Gjende, 56
SUBJECT INDEX 277
Glacial-control theory, 112, 113
Glamorgan, 166, 175, 237
Glencar Limestone, 16
Gloucestershire, 24, 27, 32
Gondwana beds, 38,40
Gondwanaland, 38, 41, 112
Goniatites, 118, 132, 133, 233, 234
Gower Peninsula, 158, 237
Grahamstown Lake Formation, 36
Great Britain, 5, 54, 174
Great Scar Limestone, 160, 161
Green River Formation, 61,63,64,65, 67,69,70
Greta Coal Measures, 42
Guadeloupian, 199
Gulf Coast, 65, 186, 188
Gulf of Mexico, 243
Gwembe Coal Formation, 39
Hampshire, 186
Hannibal Shale, 192
Harmonic analysis-see Time-series analysis
Hartshorn Sandstone, 192
Hawick Rocks, 219
Hells Mouth Grits, 219
Helman Head Beds, 70, 71
Helvetic Zone, 178, 179, 180
Hemicyclothem, 11 1 , 145, 146
Hettangian, 239
Holdgate Sandstones, 32
Horsetails, 73, 74
Huronian, 187
Hypercyclothems, 3
Illinois, 4, 20, 82, 83, 87, 192, 242
-basin, 81, 82, 95, 96, 109
- cyclothem, 85
Illawarra Coal Measures, 43
India, 38
Indonesia, 246
Inferior Oolite, 177
Inoceramian Beds, 228
Ireland, 15, 168, 221, 226, 229
Lreton Shale, 196, 197
Isostatic control, 122, 126, 152
lstebna Beds, 219
Italia Road Formation, 36, 37
J ackfork Group, 221
J apan, 216
J aslo Shale, 221
J eppestown, 44
J et Rock, 173, 189
J haria Coalfield, 38
J oggings, Bank, 81, 104
J ohn 0 Groats Sandstone, 70
J urassic, 31, 39, 163, 167, 168, 170, 171, 173,
179, 183,204,209,214,234,240,242
J utenheini, 56
Kagerod Formation, 31
Kansas, 3,8, 11,12,82,89,94,109,152,235,242
- City Group, 92
Karabogaz Gulf, 199,200, 208
Karaganda Basin, 148
Karroo System, 39
Kimberley, 44, 47
- Shale, 43
Kimmeridge Clay, 184
Kings Hill Group, 36
Krosno Beds, 218,226
Kuttung facies, 36
Lake Baldegg, 65
- Louise, 53, 57
- Superior, 18, 19, 187, 189
- Windermere, 59
- Zurich, 65
La Salle-type cycles, 86, 95
Lausanne, 34
Lavernock, 175
Lgota Beds, 217, 218, 219, 228
Lias, 20, 172, 175, 176, 177, 178, 189, 190, 239
Limestone Coal Group, 126,127,129,130,131,
Liverpool cyclothem, 87
Lockatong Formation, 61, 64, 67, 69, 79
Lofer facies, 161
London Clay, 185, 186
Lorraine, 171
Louisiana, 188
Lower Limestone Group, 126, 127, 129, 130
Ludlow, 22
Lydney, 24
Macoupin-type cycles, 86, 95
Macrocycles, 3
Madison Group, 202
Madumabisa Shales, 39, 40
Magnacycles, 3
Maitland Group, 42
Mancos Shale, 103
Manitoba, 200
Manitoba Group, 201
Mansfield Marine Band, 236, 237
Marmaton Group, 92
Marquette, 187, 189
Martinsburg Formation, 221
Mediterranean Sea, 246
Megacycles, 3
Megacyclothems, 72,89,95,96,97, 103, 152,153
Megarhythms, 228
Melanesia, 246
Mesozoic, 31, 38, 187, 238, 247
Michigan, 212
151
278 SUBJECT INDEX
Michigan (continued)
- Basin, 82
-River, 113, 114
Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 246
Mid-Continent Basin, 81, 82, 88, 92
Midlands, English, 174, 178
Midlothian Coaliield, 128, 129, 130
Millstone Grit, 132, 233
Miocene, 154,217
Mississippi Delta, 125
Mississippi River, 181, 199, 222, 243
Mississippi State, 188
Mississippian,82,109,113,114,115,168,192,202
Mitcheldean, 27, 32
Modelo Formation, 192
Moenkopi Formation, 204
Molasse, 31, 32, 33, 35, 244
Monrnouthshire, 27
Monongahela Group, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
Monterey Formation, 194
Morrison Formation, 32
Moscovian, 146
Moscow Basin, 148
Muschelkalk, 162
Nama Limestone, 194, 196
Namurian, 6, 117, 132, 142, 143, 144, 146, 233
Nebraska, 236
Neocomian, 78,228
Netherlands, The, 143, 144
Nevada, 159
Newcastle Coal Measures, 42, 43
New Jersey, 61, 64
New Mexico, 61,82,103, 195, 199,207,209,214
New South Wales, 36, 37, 42, 60
New York State, 192
New Zealand, 185, 216, 217, 222, 229,230,231
Nigeria, 38
North America, 49, 81, 82, 83
North Atlantic, 227
North Carolina, 31
North Dakota, 200
North Devon, 138-141
Northern Pennines, 119, 121
Northumberland, 119, 120
- Trough, 119, 122, 123, 124
Norway, 54, 56
Noss Beds, 72
Nottingham, 242
Nova Scotia, 81, 104
Ochoa Series, 207
Off-shore Barrier, 77, 78, 154
Ohio, 97-99, 100, 101, 102
Oil-shales, 63, 64, 67, 68
-- Group, 126, 127, 128, 131, 132
Oklahoma, 92, 94, 192, 202, 203, 221, 236
Old Red Sandstone, 21, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34. 38,
Oligocene, 209,212,218
Ontario River, 114
Ordovician, 219,220,221,229
Ostracods, 64, 69, 131, 233, 234
Ouachita Mountains, 215, 221
Oxford Clay, 169, 184, 234
Pacific Ocean, 170
Palaeocene, 219
Palaeozoic, 3, 38, 173, 183, 187, 200, 208, 215,
Paradox Basin, 204, 205
Paris Basin, 79
Pechora Basin, 147
Pefra Cava Sandstones, 219
Pennant Measures, 136-139
Pennines, 236
Pennsylvania, 61, 64
Pennsylvanian, 2, 3, 4, 11, 20, 82, 107, 108, 109,
159, 160, 170, 192, 204, 205, 235
Permian, 3, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 82, 97, 98, 101,
102, 107, 114, 115, 147, 202, 203, 204, 207,
208,209,210,213,216,235,240
41, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 69, 70, 244
229, 236, 245, 246, 247, 250
Persian Gulf, 163, 200, 204
Peterborough, 169
Phosphoria Formation, 191, 193
Phyllocarids, 69
Peoria, 4, 84
Plant control, 130
Plateau Hill Ice Lakes, 50
Pleistocene, 19, 49, 53, 60, 185, 209, 235, 237,
Pliensbachian, 238,239
Pliocene, 185, 229, 230, 231
Poland, 220, 221
Posidonienschiefer, 173
Post-glacial, 200
Pottsville Group, 98, 99, 100
Power spectrum, 17, 61, 196, 241, 248
Precambrian, 43, 61, 187, 191, 194, 246
Pripyat Salt Basin, 209
Purbeck Beds, 204
Pyrenees, 222
Queen Alexandra Range, 41
Radiocarbon dating, 53, 54
Radiolaria, 178
Recent, 60
RecBncavo Basin, 227
Rejang River, 155
Khaetian, 185
Rhine Valley, 209
Rhinns of Galloway, 229
RhBne Delta, 153, 154
245,246, 250
SUBJECT INDEX
279
Rocky Mountains, 102
Rosedale, 189
Ruhr, 142, 145,233,234
Russia, 83, 146, 147, 197
Rustler Formation, 207
Sabhka, 204
Sakski Lake, 65
Salado Formation, 207
Sandstones Channel, 108
San J uan Basin, 194
Santa Barbara Basin, 194
Sarawak, 155, 156
Saskatchewan, 200, 202
Saxony Lower, 174,205
Scanian moraine, 54
Scotland,4, 61,62,63, 64, 69, 118, 126-131,219,
Searles Lake, 209, 250
Sedimentary control, 20, 150, 155,242-243
- edaphic control, 155, 156, 243
Senonian, 228
Shackleton, 33
Shawnee Group, 88, 89,91
Sheffield, 132,242
Shropshire, 22,23,25, 32
Siberian Platform, 199
Sicily, 212
Silurian, 209, 212,218, 219, 228, 229
Sinemurian, 238, 239
Skye, 176
Somerset, 166
South Africa, 39, 43
South America, 38, 112
- Atlantic, 65
Southerndown, 175
- Rhodesia, 39
Spain, 229
Spitsbergen, 30. 31, 32
Sponges, 178
Stanley Group, 221
St. David cyclothem, 106
Steep Rock Lake, 53, 60
Stirlingshire Coalfield, 129-131
Stormberg Series, 39
Summu cyclothem, 106
Sunspot cycles, 49,66,67, 196,212,213,248,249
Swabia, 176
Sweden, 31, 50, 54, 173,250
Switzerland, 31, 33, 65, 178, 179
Tasman geosyncline, 42
Tectonic control, 111, 122, 149, 150, 154, 158,
163, 167, 168, 170, 172, 176, 184, 189, 190,
192, 202, 207, 208, 229, 230, 244, 245
- Sheet, 108
229
- Uplands, 219,220,221
Temeside Shale, 32
Tennessee, 107
Tertiary, 186, 187, 212, 216, 222, 235, 240, 246,
Teschen Limestones, 220
Texas, 199, 207, 209
Thermocline, 57
Tidal laminae, 1
Time-series analysis, 13, 60
Toarcian, 176, 177, 189, 191, 238, 239, 247
Todilto Formation, 61, 63, 195, 214
Tomago Coal Measures, 42, 43
Top Marine Band, 236, 237
Tournaisian, 117-132, 146
Triassic, 30, 31, 33, 39, 161, 162,204, 240
Trucial Coast, 204
Tugford, 25, 32
United States, 1, 6, 47, 61, 81, 83, 170, 181, 186,
-- , classification of Pennsylvanian, 83
Upper Limestone Group, 126-1 31
Uppsala, 59
Urals, 147
U.S.S.R., 83, 146, 147, 196, 209
Utah, 103, 204
Varves, 1, 8, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 36, 41, 51, 53,
-, evaporitic, 211, 212
-, glacial, 4941
-, marine, 187, 192-196
-, non-glacial, lacustrine, 62-66
Verovice Shales, 228
Victoria, 228, 229
- Glacier, 53
Visean, 117-132, 146, 147, 158
Wabaunsee Group, 88, 89,91,92,94, 95
Wadden Sea, 108
Wadhurst Clay, 74
Wairarapa, 185
Waitemata Group, 217
Wales, 21, 136, 158, 166, 175, 218, 219, 229
Wallaringa Formation, 36, 38
Wankie Sandstone, 39,40
Wealden, 170,243
Weald Lake, 72
Welsh Borders, 32
Wenlock Rocks, 219
Wensleydale, 11 7
Western Interior Basin, 81, 82
Westphalian, 132, 136, 236
West Virginia, 82, 99, 102
Wetterstein Limestone, 161
Whitecliff Bay, 186
Whitehouse Formation 220,221,224
247
205,242,243
55,248
280 SUBJECT INDEX
Williston Basin, 200, 201
Witwatersrand System, 43, 45, 46, 47
Wolfcampian, 97, 235
Wood Bay Series, 31, 33
Wreford Limestone, 97
Wyoming, 191, 193
Yampi Sound, 191
Yoredale Beds, 4, 117-126, 152, 161, 183,244,
Yorkshire, 117, 118, 166, 175, 176, 189, 190,205,
250
209,210
Zechstein Basin, 208, 209
- evaporites, 205, 206, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213
- Sea, 199, 204