AAPG Foundation 2019 Grants-in-Aid Projects

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Characterizing the Evolution of Paralic Tidal Deposits


Tidal systems appear to have significantly evolved through time. Although we have a detailed understanding of tidal environments in the late Mesozoic to modern, we have a poor understanding of how tidal environments have evolved throughout the remainder of Earth’s history. Precambrian and early Paleozoic tidal deposits are often sandy, with wide and poorly defined tidal channels characterized by sheet flooding. Conversely, late Mesozoic–modern tidal channel environments are muddy with deep sandy channel systems characterized by lateral point bar accretion and inclined heterolithic strata (IHS). The goal of this research is to understand when modern-like tidal channels evolved. Pinpointing this transition and its link to terrestrial environments ––including plant evolution––requires detailed sedimentology and significant fieldwork in tidal systems through geological time. A more detailed understanding of large-scale trends in the evolution of tidal systems through time will advance paleoenvironmental reconstructions relevant for predicting subsurface hydrocarbon resources.