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Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia, River & delta reconstruction 

Past Environments: Reconstruction of a River and a Delta from Sedimentary
Logs – Tarea 3

Today we will reconstruct the path of a meandering river system and its interaction with the
sea based on the interpretation of sedimentary logs. Rivers are extremely common terrestrial
landforms, and both erosional and depositional environments. Rivers typically terminate where
they meet a lake, or more commonly the sea, and most frequently produce a delta which can
be of various forms (think back to Geociencias).

Your task:
Based on the information provided, you need to reconstruct the meandering river system and
its delta where it meets the sea. Note, however, that rather like the real world, there is no one
single correct answer – this is an interpretation based on the data provided. The key element is
that your interpretation is consistent with the sedimentary logs provided, and with the
processes which are known to occur in river and delta environments.

You are provided with a blank map, showing the location of 17 boreholes. Each borehole has
its top at a common horizon, and has been numbered 1 to 17. Each of the sedimentary facies
has been logged, and you are provided with the 17 sedimentary logs, together with the key to
the symbols used. You are also provided with some general information on meandering rivers,
siliciclastic shorelines and delta environments that you met in the lectures.


Draw a cross-section approximately along the line of logs 1-2-3-4 to show the changing environments in space (along the most recent land surface) and time (depth within the sedimentary record). On the terrestrial side of the map. what you have learned in the lecture. such as grain size and grain size variation. and what is the energy level in that environment. Annotate the logs with relevant information. 8. 5. and how they have migrated. 4. marine-dominated. Are any of the parts of the delta likely to be influenced by more than one of these processes? 6. do you think the scale is likely to be the same for all the logs. Draw a cross-section approximately along the line of logs 1-5-9-14. Starting at the top of the logs (and remembering the top of each log represents a time horizon). Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia. Now begin to work with the logs at depth. 7. or tidally influenced. 7. No vertical scale is given on the logs. i. Look for common. with the likely palaeo-topography. This depth information will also help to inform your interpretation of the most recent land. thereby building up your map into a coherent whole. delta and seafloor surfaces.e. Work out. freshwater or marine setting. where river channels were previously located. as well as information from your background reading. presence of plant roots. do they represent a terrestrial. use the former flow directions to try to work out where the most recent river channel is. Once you have completed your map. and try to classify the delta in terms of which parts are river-dominated. 6. Look at the various sedimentary logs and the associated key. covering as much of the area as you can. 3. elements within the logs. for instance. ripples. 2    . Using all the information provided. 2. or are some scales different to others? Tarea 3: Hand in your completed map. give a name to each environment or sub-environment. marine shells. cross-sections and answer to question 8 before the deadline given by your laboratory professor. remembering the top of each log represents an ancient depositional or erosional surface. etc. and any transition zones which seem to be influenced by both marine and fresh water. repeated. Consider. Do the same for the delta and marine systems. Remember to include the likely palaeo-topography. River & delta reconstruction  Procedure: 1. for instance. and try to identify the environmental significance the features you have identified. try to work out where the different parts of the meandering river are located. Based on your cross-section. the environmental significance of mud compared to sand or gravel. work out the approximate boundary between the sea and the land. to show the changing environments in space and time.

shoreline and delta environments. River & delta reconstruction  Generalized information on river. with idealized sedimentary logs A generalized drawing of a meandering river system showing some features and terminology. Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia. and an idealized sedimentary log 3    .

 River & delta reconstruction  Generalized drawings of a clastic shoreline showing some of the features and terminology. and an idealized sedimentary log 4    . Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia.

Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia. River & delta reconstruction  A generalized drawing of a delta system showing some of the features and terminology. and an idealized sedimentary log 5    .

an arrow pointing to the right would indicate a palaeoflow direction to the east (090 degrees) 6    . Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia.e. relative to the north arrow provided on the map. i. River & delta reconstruction  The arrows adjacent to some of the sedimentary logs give the palaeoflow direction determined from the sediments.

Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia. River & delta reconstruction  7    .

 River & delta reconstruction  8    . Universidad de los Andes Geosciences Sedimentologia y Estratigrafia.