Sedimentology of Basal Potsdam Sandstone in Adirondack Border Region, New York, Southeastern Ontario, and Southwestern Quebec
L. E. McRae, G. D. Johnson
Field evidence supports the relatively widespread presence of nonmarine facies within the basal Potsdam formation of the Adirondack border areas of northern New York, southeastern Ontario, and southwestern Quebec. Detailed observations of areal extent, analysis of sedimentary structures and paleocurrent directions, and petrographic studies have been combined with the paleomagnetic determination of the temporal relationships of these strata to establish depositional patterns and facies trends within basal Potsdam units. Four distinct nonmarine lithofacies have been identified: massive matrix-supported conglomerate, stratified framework-supported conglomerate, conglomerate-arkose, and pebble conglomerate-arkose fining-upward sequences, interpreted to represent debris flows, proximal gravelly braided-stream deposits, intermediate to distal gravelly braided-stream deposits, and proximal sandy braided-stream deposits, respect vely. Facies of eolian or possibly tidal, and shallow marine origin have also been identified at the base of the Potsdam sequence. Most basal Potsdam sediments are compositionally and texturally immature, derived directly from the crystalline detritus of the extensively weathered Precambrian surface and regoliths that may have locally developed on the craton. The desertlike environment of the Precambrian surface allowed for rapid transport and deposition of relatively unweathered sediments and the subsequent construction of a braided alluvial plain system. Field relations and evidence derived from consideration of the paleomagnetic properties in five localities of fine-grained alluvium suggest that terrestrial Potsdam deposition in the Early and Middle Cambrian largely preceded the marin transgression that deposited the thick, shallow marine units typifying most of the Potsdam sequence.
The general characteristics of these basal fluvial Potsdam sediments are similar to basal sequences from other Cambrian sandstones on the North American craton. The nonmarine facies at the base of Cambrian sequences are evidence that the North American craton contained a rather extensive fluvial record prior to the transgression of the Sauk sea.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.