AAPG Foundation 2019 Grants-in-Aid Projects

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Sediment provenance for Carboniferous Ouachita – Arkoma and Black Warrior Basins using detrital geochronology and sediment compositional analysis


The Appalachian-Ouachita foreland is a vast and multifaceted foreland basin system that has been influenced by multiple tectonic events and mountain building episodes. The Ouachita-Arkoma and Black Warrior Basins of the Appalachian-Ouachita foreland preserve a thick accumulation of Paleozoic strata deposited throughout much of the Late Mississippian and Early Pennsylvanian. Complex Carboniferous drainage systems controlled by varying global eustasy and regional tectonic activity influenced sediment transport and deposition into the Ouachita-Arkoma and Black Warrior Basins. Detrital studies from the Appalachian-Ouachita foreland have predominantly been centered around the Mississippian – Pennsylvanian boundary and the extensive sediment packages that were accumulated in the lower Pennsylvanian (Morrowan). The Mississippian-Pennsylvanian boundary represents a transition from a stage of relatively slow sedimentation to a period of rapid deposition in the Early Pennsylvanian linked with the onset of continental glaciation. Initial 40Ar/39Ar detrital ages from the Ouachita-Arkoma Basins show distinct characteristics that are represented throughout the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian strata in the Ouachita-Arkoma region. The detrital muscovite age signature displays various modes of Ordovician and Devonian aged detritus associated with multiple Appalachian tectonic events. The Black Warrior Basin age spectrum shows a younging-upward progression that includes modes consistent with all three major Appalachian events. Both the Ouachita-Arkoma and Black Warrior Basin signatures suggest a strong Appalachian source of detritus. Significant similarities are observed between the two regions, such as the Ordovician and Devonian aged modes and the dominant Laurentian crustal signature. Noticeable differences are detected between the two regions, as well as differences in the transition from Mississippian to Pennsylvanian aged strata. This study will further investigate the complex drainage patterns of the Early Pennsylvanian and the suggested sources of sediment that are input to the Appalachian-Ouachita foreland.