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ABSTRACT: Comparison of Depositional Elements of an Ancient and a "Modern" Submarine Fan Complex: Early Pennsylvanian Jackfork and Late Pleistocene Mississippi Fans

James L. Coleman, Jr.

Normark urged that all future, meaningful deep-sea fan comparisons be confined to key depositional elements common to most turbidite systems. These elements should include basin size, tectonic and eustatic setting, and depositional process indicators. A test case for elemental comparisons between two widely studied fan complexes is presented and evaluated.

The lower Pennsylvanian (Morrowan) Jackfork submarine fan complex extends from central Arkansas to northeast Texas. Sequence analysis suggests that the Jackfork is composed of four to seven depositional episodes and occupies the floor of a deep basin bordered to the north and east by a passive carbonate-siliciclastic shelf margin and to the south and east by a northward-advancing orogenic belt. The Jackfork apparently unrestricted to the west and southwest.

The Mississippi submarine fan complex extends from the submerged continental shelf of southern Louisiana to the abyssal depths between Yucatan and Florida. The fan complex is primarily Pleistocene in age, with the present morphologic fan being late Wisconsinian. The Mississippi Fan is composed of 17 depositional episodes. It occupies the floor of a deep basin bordered on the north and west by quiescent(?) halokinetic-siliciclastic shelf margins and to the east and south by passive carbonate margins.

Elemental comparisons between the Mississippi fan and a palynspastically restored Jackfork fan complex suggest that both are quite similar, even though the Mississippi fan is up to three times larger in some categories. Comparative study of key depositional elements facilitates a more complete understanding of both modern and ancient submarine fans.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990