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Carboniferous Clastic-Wedge Stratigraphy, Sedimentology, and Foreland Basin Evolution: Black Warrior Basin, Alabama and Mississippi

Robert A. Hines

Carboniferous clastic-wedge stratigraphy and sedimentology in the Black Warrior basin of Alabama and Mississippi indicate deposition in an evolving foreland basin flanking the Appalachian-Ouachita fold-thrust belt. The strata reflect specific responses to foreland basin subsidence, orogenic activity, sediment supply, and dispersal systems. Definition of the regional stratigraphy of the clastic wedge provides for interpretation of the foreland basin subsidence history by enabling quantitative reconstruction of regional compaction and subsidence profiles. Comparison of the interpreted subsidence history with model profiles of foreland basin subsidence (predicted from loading and flexure of continental lithosphere) allows evaluation of mechanical models in terms of observed lastic-wedge sedimentology and stratigraphy.

Mechanical modeling of foreland basin subsidence predicts formation of a flexural bulge that migrates cratonward ahead of the subsiding foreland basin during loading. In the Black Warrior basin, local stratigraphic thins, pinch-outs, and areas of marine-reworked sediments suggest migration of the flexural bulge. Comparison of flexural bulge migration with thermal maturation history allows evaluation of timing of stratigraphic trapping mechanisms with respect to onset of hydrocarbon generation.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.