AAPG Foundation 2019 Grants-in-Aid Projects

Datapages, Inc.Print this page

Unlocking the secrets of the Wasatch Formation using lithostratigraphy, XRF chemostratigraphy, and UAV-based hyperspectral imaging


The Eocene Green River and Wasatch formations of southwest Wyoming represent interfingering lacustrine and alluvial deposits, respectively. We aim to improve our understanding of paleoenvironmental, paleotectonic, and landscape evolution in this region during the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum by investigating the less-studied Wasatch Formation. The study area is located near the northern margin of paleolake Gosiute. Interbedded lacustrine and alluvial intervals allow for direct correlation to the well-resolved stratigraphy of the Green River Formation. Continuous 4-5 km long depositional strike transects provide an opportunity to investigate lateral variability in paleosol horizons, fluvial architecture, deltaic sheets, and lacustrine layers. Three-dimensional photomosaics and digital elevation models, constructed from UAV imagery, will be used to tie together detailed stratigraphic sections and trace depositional packages. XRF-based elemental concentration data collected through each section will help identify changes in lithology, sediment provenance, and degree of weathering in paleosol horizons. The UAV will be equipped with a hyperspectral camera providing insight into lithologic change not visible with full spectrum data. Hyperspectral data will be integrated with XRF and visual descriptions to better constrain this novel dataset in the context of Wasatch Formation stratigraphy. Once calibrated, hyperspectral datasets may provide a rapid technique to scan outcrops around the basin to produce extensive stratigraphic cross sections, thereby reducing the number of detailed stratigraphic sections needed. This will be particularly useful in remote areas.