STEPPED FORCED REGRESSIVE VALLEYS AND SEQUENCE DIACHRONEITY (Invited Presentation)
Cretaceous outcrop examples of compound incised valleys, including the Ferron Notom delta in Utah, show evidence of stepped, punctuated forced regressions. Cross-cutting valley fills indicate multiple valley scour events during regression. The Ferron also has older fluvial terraces that show greater tidal influence than younger valleys fills, which are more fluvial-dominated. Tidal influence in the valleys suggests that they are primarily controlled by downstream "buttress"shifts (i.e. sea-level). The vertical succession also suggests that valley fills record a change in the plan-view position of the valley system that is preserved in any given section. The succession records a progressive transition from estuarine-dominated outer- segments to fluvial-dominated inner- segments through time. This also suggests that valleys were formed by progressive sea-level drops causing more distal valley segments to be replaced by proximal segments as the valley system evolves.
As valleys extend over co-eval forced regressive shorelines, the resulting erosional discontinuity may have older earlier-formed fluvial terrace deposits above the surface in more proximal regions and the same erosional surface may overlie younger, more recently formed deltaic and shoreface deposits in more distal regions.
Such stepped forced regressions are indicative of gradual, stepped base-level fall, such as is commonly recorded in glacio-eustatic cycles, where glacial build up is slow. These outcrop also match observations seen in flume and Quaternary studies, and suggest that sequence boundaries may have far greater diachroneity than has been previously assumed.