Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Sedimentary Geology 190:1-4 (August 1, 2006), pp. 227–240; doi: 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2006.05.009 Copyright © 2006 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


Fluvial strata dominated internally by sedimentary structures of interpreted upper flow regime origin are moderately common in the rock record, yet their abundance is not appreciated and many examples may go unnoticed. A spectrum of sedimentary structures is recognised, all of which occur over a wide range of scale: 1. cross-bedding with humpback, sigmoidal and ultimately low-angle cross-sectional foreset geometries (interpreted as recording the transition from dune to upper plane bed bedform stability field), 2. planar/flat lamination with parting lineation, characteristic of the upper plane bed phase, 3. flat and low-angle lamination with minor convex-upward elements, characteristic of the transition from upper plane bed to antidune stability fields, 4. convex-upward bedforms, down- and up-palaeocurrent-dipping, low-angle cross-bedding and symmetrical drapes, interpreted as the product of antidunes, and 5. backsets terminating updip against an upstream- dipping erosion surface, interpreted as recording chute and pool conditions. In some fluvial successions, the entirety or substantial portions of channel sandstone bodies may be made up of such structures. These Upper Flow Regime Sheets, Lenses and Scour Fills (UFR) are defined herein as an extension of Miall’s [Miall, A.D., 1985. Architectural-element analysis: a new method of facies analysis applied to fluvial deposits. Earth Sci. Rev. 22: 261–308.] Laminated Sand Sheets architectural element. Given the conditions that favour preservation of upper flow regime structures (rapid changes in flow strength), it is suggested that the presence of UFR elements in ancient fluvial successions may indicate sediment accumulation under the influence of a strongly seasonal palaeoclimate that involves a pronounced seasonal peak in precipitation and runoff.