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GEOL2018HORNE32182 GEOL

Interaction Between the Upland and Lowland Lithosomes of Late Cretaceous and Paleogene Strata of the Raton Basin

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Sean Horne Geological Sciences Ross Harrison Geological Sciences John Holbrook Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

The Raton Basin of Colorado and New Mexico is a Laramide foreland basin that has been important to coal geology since its first identification as a coal resource in 1821, and as a major Coal Bed Methane resource in the modern era. Raton Basin contains Cretaceous to Paleogene strata representative of the major transgression and subsequent regression of the Western Interior Seaway. The interaction between the distal and proximal lithosomes of strata within the Raton Basin is not fully understood. The coaly, fine-grained rocks of the lower and upper coal zones of the Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene Raton Formation are indicative of deposition in wet, distal lowlands, whereas the coarser grains of the barren series of the Raton Formation indicate that this unit was deposited in a highland setting proximal to the source. While the basin has been explored and produced for petroleum and coal in the past (specifically the Cretaceous Vermejo Formation and Raton Formation), vertical and lateral interaction, geometries, and potential communication between the coal deposits and surrounding fluvial deposits is not well-understood. It has been proposed that the Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene strata of the Raton Basin were deposited within a Distributive Fluvial System (DFS), and that the coal-rich zone is the down-dip expression of this system. This hypothesis was tested by integrating results from well log correlations, measured sections, architecture analysis of outcrops from drone photogrammetry, core descriptions, and coal palynology and microscopy. Initial results reveal the presence of three distinct, repeating lithosomes (valley-fill sandstones, mixed terminal splays, and very extensive and laterally continuous coals) that are identifiable and correlatable in well logs, are cyclically represented, and suggest basin-scale swings in depositional environment consistent with shifting components within a basin-wide DFS system, consistent with the DFS hypothesis.

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GEOL2018LEHMAN53009 GEOL

Insights into the Sources and Tectonic Setting of Magmatism in a Complex Arc Setting: Major and Trace Element Variations in the ~1.2 Ga Barby Formation in SW Namibia

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Katelyn Lehman Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Richard Hanson Geological Sciences

The ~1.2 billion-year-old-Barby Formation is located in SW Namibia and has been argued to represent a continental volcanic arc. Previous studies on these rocks primarily relied on mobile-element data, which can be altered by secondary processes and therefore is unreliable for constraining petrologic processes. In an effort to establish the Barby Formation's petrotectonic history, 20 samples were analyzed using XRF and ICP-MS to determine whole-rock major and trace element concentrations. These data were used to answer two questions: (1) Do the samples represent one unique magma series that came from a single source? (2) If the Barby Formation is indeed a volcanic arc, did it form from normal, flat-slab, or oblique subduction? These questions were answered using a combination of geostatisical analyses (distribution, cluster, and outlier analyses), trace-element tectonic discrimination diagrams, and geospatial analyses (see other poster by Lehman et al.). This study supports previous interpretations that the Barby Formation formed in a continental arc setting, with rock samples displaying steeply dipping, light-rare-earth-element enriched patterns, negative Nb/Ta anomalies, and calc-alkaline andesitic to shoshonitic compositions. Major and trace element data indicate at least two magma series from two distinct mantle sources. These two groups are controlled by enrichment differences and variations in the high-field-strength element ratios. The presence of shoshonitic rocks is consistent with flat-slab or oblique subduction.

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GEOL2018LEHMAN9136 GEOL

Attempting to Reconstruct an Ancient Convergent Margin: Geospatial Analysis of the Mezoproterozic Barby Formation in the Konkiep Group in SW Namibia

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Katelyn Lehman Geological Sciences Richard Hanson Geological Sciences Tamie Moran Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Richard Hanson Geological Sciences Tamie Morgan Geological Sciences

The ~1.2 billion-year-old-Barby Formation located in SW Namibia has been argued to represent a continental volcanic arc. Recent research by our group (see other poster by Lehman et al.) has supported these arguments with data exhibiting steeply dipping, light-rare-earth-element enriched patterns, negative Nb/Ta anomalies, and calc-alkaline andesitic to shoshonitic compositions. The shoshonitic rocks are particularly interesting as these compositions often form in unusual arc settings (i.e., flat-slab subduction, oblique subduction, ridge subduction). Pearce et al. (2005) showed that the relative plate depth, and in turn, subduction angle and orientation can be interpreted by mapping diagnostic trace element ratios. The spatial distribution of the geochemical ratios could potentially also differentiate between shoshonitic volcanic rocks formed as a result of unusual plate geometries as opposed to a slab tear. If the map displays a tight cluster of shoshonitic composition rocks, the samples more likely formed above a slab tear, while a dispersed arrangement would be more suggestive of either a flat-slab or oblique subduction origin. ArcGis Pro was used to map and analyze XRF and ICP-MS data from 20 samples of the Barby Formation. The samples are from lava flows or sills and range from calc-alkaline to shoshonitic in composition. Both spatial tools and statistical analysis tools were used in an effort to explore potential geospatial relationships of key trace element ratios and previously established geochemical clusters. These results were then employed to attempt to recreate the subduction conditions that formed this volcanic arc.

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GEOL2018MYERS42553 GEOL

Prediction of Paleo-Catchment Area Through Fluvial Morphology and Application of the Fulcrum Method: Festningen Member Svalbard, Norway

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Cody Myers Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

The depositional model of the Festningen Member of the Barremian Helvetiafjellet Formation is that fluvial to inner deltaic-plain conditions were established as deltas that built southeastward into the Barents Sea basin from an unknown source northwest of present-day Svalbard. Currently, models of Artic drainage provinces are nascent to non-existent. Here, evidence for a large artic drainage basin into the Cretaceous Barents Sea is suggested by using established scaling relationships and the fulcrum method in the Festningen Sandstone.
Data from several locations in Svalbard: Konusdalen, Revneset, Criocerasaksla, and Hanaskogdalen. The Festningen Member sandstone sections were all initially photographed by drone in order to determine channel body dimensions and architecture in the sandstone as well as to record data for 3D photogrammetric construction of virtual outcrop models. Paleohydraulic estimates based on the fulcrum method use bankfull channel dimensions, specifically the height and width, and the D16, D50, D84, and D90 grainsizes to develop basin-process models and infer past catchment constraints. Festningen Member sandstone sections were logged and found to represent braided fluvial systems with mid-channel bars up to 3 m thick and channel-fills up to 4 m thick. Representative bedload samples were taken from approximately 10 cm above the base of channel scours for analysis and model input. The coarse grainsize and large clasts, frequently 3-4 cm and up to 15 cm in diameter, in the Festningen Member sandstone samples show that this was a large river capable of moving a coarse bedload. Scaling relationships equivalent to 4 m channels and coarse grained D-values is on the order of the modern braided Missouri River, on the South Dakota/Nebraska border.
The Bjarmeland Platform and Fingerdjupet Subbasin in the western Barents Sea have a potential petroleum play in the Lower Cretaceous strata, which are, in part, considered to have been fed by the same Festningen fluvial system that is represented in cliff sections on Svalbard. Seismic profiles show clinoforms that may suggest deltaic facies, but remains unknown due to lack of well data.
Seismic data shows that the Cretaceous Festningen fluvial system was able to deliver enough sediments onto the Bjarmeland Platform area to build clinoforms. The size of the source area sufficient to produce a trunk river on this scale remains unconstrained, but an area of at least 100,000 km2 is necessary to produce the river found in the rock record, if the Fulcrum method is applied. Existing Arctic tectonic reconstructions do not consistently show a land area of sufficient size to accommodate this magnitude of drainage area, but results from this study may provide further input to the discussion on timing and land-mass configuration in the present day arctic during the Early Cretaceous.

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GEOL2018OHRMUNDT26503 GEOL

Andesitic pyroclastic intrusions injected laterally into weak lacustrine sediments within a Mesoproterozoic volcanic arc succession, Barby Formation, SW Namibia

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Sierra Ohrmundt Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Richard Hanson Geological Sciences

The 1.2 Ga volcanic arc rocks in the Barby Formation are well exposed in desert terrain in SW Namibia - this formation records the establishment of a major continental margin arc following earlier accretionary events. Recent field work has shown that large portions of the formation consist of pyroclastic fall deposits erupted from small volcanoes (fissures and scoria or spatter cones) in a region with poor drainage and abundant lakes.

Detailed mapping of a well-exposed section of the Barby Formation provides a cross-sectional view of a succession of pyroclastic fall units intercalated with planar bedded lacustrine sediments. Massively bedded units up to ~80 m thick show abundant bombs up to 60 cm across in a matrix of fluidal to angular lapilli, indicating deposition close to source vents undergoing primarily Strombolian-type eruptions. Hypabyssal dikes and sills are common, often cutting through the massively bedded pyroclastic units.

Also present are pyroclastic deposits that intrude lacustrine sedimentary packages at 12 locations spread out over a horizontal distance of ~600 m and a vertical stratigraphic sequence of ~300 m. These deposits contain similar bombs and lapilli as the pyroclastic fall deposits, but show clear fluidal intrusive relations with adjacent sedimentary units. In most cases, zones of peperite are formed in between the pyroclastic intrusions and the lacustrine sediments, consisting of fluidal bodies of vesicular basaltic andesite mingled with fine-grained sediment with preserved lamination. We infer that jets of intrusive pyroclastic material were blasted laterally into weak, unlithified lake sediments from one or more vent conduits feeding explosive eruptions at the surface; these jets are likely to have been forced out by collapse of the conduit inward. Fluidization of the sediment would have occurred as pore water was converted to steam, which would have facilitated lateral motion of the pyroclastic jets.

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GEOL2018OHRMUNDT44993 GEOL

Mapping geology of SW Namibia using Landsat-8 band ratios

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Sierra Ohrmundt Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Tamie Morgan Geological Sciences

Landsat-8 data was used to test the effectiveness of using spectral analysis and remote sensing in the differentiation of lithological units and mapping geology in Namibia. The study area is located in SW Namibia, in an arid region with little vegetation, making it an ideal place for remote sensing analysis. Different color composites and band ratios were compared to find the image providing the most geologic information and highest contrast between units. A false color composite (6,3,2 in red-green-blue) was first created to to show differences in bare earth, and from there, various band ratio combinations were created. Geologic maps were used to verify the results and select the best band combination. The best color composite image was created using band ratios from (7/6, 6/5, 4/2), and allowed identification of lithological units and vegetation. The results show that it is possible to draw valid lithological conclusions from spectral patterns, and that high quality imagery can be used to update existing geologic maps or used for exploration.

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GEOL2018PATE42788 GEOL

Drainage Area Climate Classification

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Jacob Pate Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Tamie Morgan Geological Sciences

SRS Abstract Drainage Area Climate Classification

For my SRS project I will be determining the climate(s) within a given polygon. The Polygon size and shape will be determined from a specified drainage area for a given stream. I will be using over 400 stream data points with a series of drainage area shape files given to me by Nicole Wilson. I will base the climate on the gauge site location within the drainage area. The koppen climate classification scheme will then be used to specify each drainage area.

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GEOL2018PATTERSON54551 GEOL

Maness Shale: A comparison of the Geomechanical and Geochemical Properties within the Lower Eagle Ford

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Samantha Patterson Geological Sciences Richard Denne Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Richard Denne Geological Sciences

Unconventional shale plays have been a significant source of natural gas, gas condensates, and crude oil through much of North America. The Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas has been a prolific unconventional play since the mid-2000’s. It was deposited in the Gulf Coast basin along the southern rim of Texas. This play covers a vast area that stretches approximately 7 million acres (2.8 hectares) and extends from the College Station to the USA-Mexico Border near Del Rio. The majority of the Eagle Ford has been thoroughly studied and analyzed, however, there is much to learn about the basal member, the Maness Shale.
The Maness Shale was deposited 97 million years ago; it is the basal member of the Eagle Ford Group and lies directly above the Buda Limestone. The formation does not occur continuously throughout the entire Eagle Ford deposition and varies in thickness. Whereas the lateral extent still remains unknown, it has previously been mapped across the San Marcos Arch. The geophysical and geochemical properties of this member create drilling stability issues if encountered while drilling horizontal Eagle Ford wells. To further understand its geomechanical properties, two hand-held devices will be used on cores taken near the San Marcos Arch that contain the Maness Shale to determine rock strength variations of the Eagle Ford section. The Equotip Bambino is a micro-rebound hammer that provides hardness data values that can be used to estimate unconfined compressive strength. The dimpler is a micro-indentation device that infers rock strength by generating a “dimple” created by the tool and then measuring the depth and diameter of the dimple. These measurements are then correlated on graphs against the unconfined compressive strength for the regional Eagle Ford. The Maness has a neutron density range of 20-30%, indicating a high clay content. The x-ray diffraction (XRD) will be used to determine the content of the clay minerals. Geophysical well logs have been collected and correlated across the San Marcos Arch region; the initial maps identified the thickest Maness interval within the Karnes trough.

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GEOL2018PECHACEK25987 GEOL

A Twist on the Sequence Stratigraphic Model: Climate Induced Incision with a Sea Level Assist

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Amanda Pechacek Geological Sciences John Holbrook Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

The sequence stratigraphy of Middle to Upper Pennsylvanian strata in the Appalachian Basin is complex, partly owing to the icehouse co-response to climate and sea level change during the late Paleozoic. The Breathitt Group resembles a traditional marine-to-terrestrial sequence stratigraphic model. The overlying Conemaugh Group also exhibits sequences, but they are more fluvial-dominated. Sequence stratigraphy largely presumes sea-level drive for sequences and accommodation. We present a model that is driven by both sea level and climate. We hypothesize that once the land surface is built up high enough above the water table, it is not required that sea level drop to induce valley incision, and in fact there is no evidence for a shelf slope break that would promote incision. Instead, we offer that climate change may be the main driver of valley incision.
This model is tested using strata in the Breathitt and Conemaugh Groups in the Northern and Central Appalachian Basin. Measured sections along a basin cross section in outcrop and 3D models built from UAV photographs help reveal this past environment to address the potential of climate change as a sequence driver.
The Breathitt to Conemaugh Group shift records a composite of sequences that are a progradational basin-fill and define a switch from a mixed marine and fluvial to fluvial fill. The Conemaugh sequences record upward shifts from a low-accommodation, valley-incised tributive to a high-accommodation, un-incised distributive systems tract. As a marine transgression tops the low-accommodation valleys below, it lays a basal peat which floods the tributive system. Next, the rivers in the distributive fluvial system prograde and push out the shore, as well as build a slope above sea level. This aggradation creates an elevated coastal prism. Continued progradation creates the elevation needed for valley incision, but this progradation need not cause incision, even if sea level falls. A climate change will eventually spur water table reduction owing to a locally drier climate, or an upstream water-sediment ratio change. Valley incision begins at that time, and possibly with no change in sea level. In this model, regression with or without sea level drop sets up the conditions needed for valley incision, but does not cause incision itself. Incision waits for adequate climate change to generate buffer valleys. The valleys record regression but are climate driven and do not have to define sea-level change.

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GEOL2018WALKER38503 GEOL

Cobalt Cache: Finding a Solution for Runaway Cobalt Demand

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): John David Walker IV Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Tamie Morgan Geological Sciences

Public awareness of human rights violations in cobalt-rich mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo have American cobalt consumers scrambling for reliable suppliers to meet rising demand, with uncertainties about futures in cobalt's supply chain. Global cobalt production supply forecast falls short of global demand forecast for the next ten years, even with the completions of major planned mined projects. The exponential increase in demand for cobalt results from its utility in personal electronics batteries, electric vehicle batteries, and jet engine construction. Chemical extracting operations whose sole purposes are to extract cobalt are not profitable in the status quo, leaving a window of opportunity for reclaimed cobalt to take hold in the market. This project studies consumer patterns to determine "urban mine" qualities in Texas. The resulting analysis exists to be cross-applied to other states to determine target regions best suited for cobalt reclamation strategies in hopes of securing America's geopolitical mineral stability.

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GEOL2018WARWICK23873 GEOL

Architectural and Chronostratigraphic Analysis of a Modern Point Bar: Powder River, Montana

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Blake Warwick Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

Due to the logistical challenges and the dynamic nature of fluvial systems, studying modern point bar deposits over formative time periods is difficult. Seasonal and annual changes in precipitation can greatly influence the rate at which deposition is recorded. The lack of accurate sediment-package dating makes it difficult to compare sedimentation rates to actual chronostratigraphic events such as floods. This study combines photogrammetry, mapped surface migration, a survey of sediment elevation change, a trench, and water discharge rates to develop a more complete understanding of how a point bar forms on an annual scale. The Powder River, Montana, USA, which has little influence from engineering, offers a unique opportunity to study a seasonally exposed point bar and how its internal architecture and surface features form through time.
The study area is along the Powder River between Moorhead, Montana, USA, and Broadus, Montana, USA. The Powder River is a northward flowing, meandering river that is sourced from the Bighorn Mountains in northeast Wyoming, USA and is a tributary to the Yellowstone River. Point bar PR141A, the focus of this study, is the result of the neck cut-off of point bar PR141 during a 50 year flood in 1978. The sediment elevation survey is conducted annually, with a few exceptions, at centimeter scale to determine sediment elevation change and the building and erosion of the point bar. The survey is applied to the architectural-element analysis of the sediment packages within the point bar to compare time with sediment deposition.
This study reconstructs the growth of point bar PR141A, its discrete accretionary architecture at the scale of years, and determines the inter-relationship between annual flooding events and bar accretion. The sediment survey timeline shows that on average the river builds one accretionary body per yearly flood cycle. On occasion, the river builds multiple bodies during the year or can take several years to build one accretion set. The change in the accretion set building period is attributed to changes in river flow. The continual change of deposit direction, grain size distribution, erosion, and reshaping of the bar surface between accretion events leads to fragmentation of the point bar body, vastly different from the textbook model of a point bar. The detailed study of how a modern point bar forms lends insight into the fragmentation of fluvial hydrocarbon reservoir bodies.

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GEOL2018WHITE41470 GEOL

Stratigraphy of the Ernst Member of the Upper Cretaceous Boquillas Formation, Heath Canyon, Brewster County, Texas

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Rob White Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Helge Alsleben Geological Sciences

The Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) was deposited on the South Texas Shelf in the Late Cretaceous, during a time of widespread marine transgression. With industry interest in the EFS, an understanding of the geology and depositional environment of these rocks is imperative to maximize well results. For the study, a section of the EFS was measured and described in detail in Heath Canyon, Brewster County, Texas. Lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, and mechanical stratigraphy were determined via outcrop and elemental composition was determined from sample collection and lab analysis. Data suggests the EFS was deposited in a potentially anoxic environment below storm-wave base on the South Texas Shelf.

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GEOL2018WILSON60058 GEOL

Improving Paleohydrologic Source-to-Sink Estimates by Merging Big Data and the Fulcrum Approach

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Nicole Wilson Geological Sciences John Holbrook Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

Quantifying source-to-sink sediment flux for stratigraphic systems is critical for accurate basin models, but all available methods are hampered by low precision and most require data not readily attained by common subsurface studies. The Fulcrum approach uses the variables of channel bankfull thickness and grain size to calculate sediment bankfull discharge and converts this to an annual sediment volume. The Fulcrum approach uses commonly collected data but similarly yields only approximate flux estimates. In order to calculate a more precise source-to-sink estimate for long basin durations, the amount of time the fluvial systems runs at bankfull flow and the annual proportion of sediment discharged during this bankfull flow must also be determined. By categorizing fluvial systems by attributes such as drainage area and paleoclimate at the time of discharge, a more specified and accurate bankfull flow duration and total bankfull sediment discharge is estimated. We constructed a database that stores and categorizes these data and a user interface (RAFTER: River Analogue and Fulcrum Transport Estimates Repository) to query and display this data. Daily stream gauge data spanning decades is used in conjunction with measured bankfull values from literature to populate the datasets for the database and derive stream specific data attributes. This bankfull flux searchable database evaluates stream gauge data for modern fluvial systems according to classes such as climate setting and is also a useful tool for identifying analog stream data scaled to drainage basin and channel size. It evaluates designated parameters of days within a year that the river runs at bankfull flow, as well as the yearly proportion of sediment discharged over bankfull duration. The database can thus yield a more accurate value for duration at bankfull flow and sediment discharge at bankfull from modern rivers that can be used as an analog for stratigraphic rivers with interpreted climate and size parameters. Results show a key breakdown in bankfull duration, with arid and tropical rivers on the order of a fraction of a day per year, boreal climates tending to be an order of magnitude longer, and temperate climates still longer. Categorizing stratigraphic rivers by known climate and other parameters can lower the total error in sediment flux from paleohydrology by a geometric factor.

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GEOL2017ANDREWS23076 GEOL

Intermixed Hawaiian, Strombolian and phreatomagmatic pyroclastic deposits in a Mesoproterozoic volcanic arc sequence (Barby Formation), southwest Namibia

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Virginia Andrews Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Richard Hanson Geological Sciences

The Barby Formation makes up part of the Konkiep Terrane, which is a major Mesoproterozoic arc complex along the Kalahari craton margin in southwest Namibia. Previous mapping indicates that the Barby Formation contains a laterally and vertically complex series of basaltic to rhyolitic lavas, rhyolitic ignimbrites, and associated hypabyssal intrusions. Our new work shows that significant basaltic to andesitic pyroclastic successions are also present within the unit and record a wide variation in eruption styles.

Detailed mapping reveals the presence of Hawaiian, Strombolian and phreatomagmatic pyroclastic deposits forming successions up to X m thick emplaced close to source vents and intercalated with fine-grained lacustrine strata in an area ~20 km2. The most abundant deposits consist of basaltic to andesitic spatter accumulations formed from vigorous lava fountains during Hawaiian-style eruptions. These sequences show random vertical transitions on the scale of a few meters from moderately agglutinated to densely welded spatter, which reflect variations in pyroclast accumulation rates. Individual spatter pieces are up to x cm long. The densely welded spatter forms lava-like units, but we see no evidence of clastogenic lava flows. Sequences of basaltic lapillistone with dispersed ribbon and fusiform bombs up to 50 cm across record Strombolian eruptions during episodes of lower magma flux without involvement of external water. The spatter accumulations typically grade upward into phreatomagmatic deposits containing minor amounts of spatter and cauliflower bombs mixed with poorly vesicular lapilli tuff, in which particle shapes are controlled mostly by fracture surfaces rather than broken bubble walls; up to 30% lacustrine sediment is intermixed with juvenile lapilli and ash in these deposits. We infer that changes in eruptive style in this part of the arc sequence were controlled at least partly by variations in magma ascent rates at shallow depths, as documented in numerous other volcanic provinces. Transitions from Hawaiian to phreatomagmatic eruptions may at least partly reflect a decrease in magma flux in the presence of external water, lowering the magma-to-water mass ratio so that hydrovolcanic explosions became possible.

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GEOL2017GOMEZ40480 GEOL

PROVENANCE OF CENOZOIC CLASTIC SEDIMENTS IN THE TACHIRA SADDLE, WESTERN VENEZUELA, AND IMPLICATIONS OF SEDIMENT DISPERSAL PATTERNS IN THE NORTHERN ANDES

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Ali Ricardo Gomez Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Xiangyang Xie Geological Sciences

Northwestern South America is highly deformed due to the transpressive boundary with complex interactions among the Caribbean plate, the South American plate, the Nazca plate and the Panama arc. Previous studies suggest that the Cenozoic uplifting of the Mérida Andes and Eastern Cordillera of Colombia affected sediment dispersal patterns in the region, shifting from a Paleocene foreland basin configuration with an axial major fluvial system, to the modern configuration of isolated basins with distinctive sediment dispersal patterns. Well-exposed Cretaceous to Pliocene strata in the Táchira saddle between the Easter Cordillera and Merida Andes provide a unique opportunity to test proposed sediment dispersal patterns in the region. U-Pb detrital zircon geochronology and supplementary XRD heavy mineral identification were used together to document provenance of Cretaceous to Pliocene clastic rocks collected from the area of La Alquitrana. Results from the U-Pb detrital zircon geochronology show that there are six age groups recorded in this samples. Two groups related with Precambrian Guyana shield Terranes and Putumayo basement in the Eastern Cordillera, and four groups related to different magmatic episodes during the Andean Orogenic process. Three major paleogeography changes were also recorded in these detrital signatures, including a transition between the Cretaceous passive margin and the Paleocene foreland basin, the initial uplifting of the Eastern Cordillera with the isolation the Llanos Basin and Táchira Saddle from the Central Cordillera and the Magdalena Valley in the Early Oligocene, and the uplifting of the Mérida Andes by the Early Miocene. The outcomes of this study emphasize the importance of the Mérida Andes and Eastern Cordillera Uplift in controlling the evolution of the sediment dispersal patterns in northern South America and represent a contribution in the understanding of the paleogeographic evolution in the region.

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GEOL2017HOWE26318 GEOL

The Architecture and Connective Potential of Blowout Wings in Fluvio-Deltaic Environments

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Tyler Howe Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

Fluvio-lacustrine systems are prone to experiencing significant flood events separated by longer low energy periods. During low flow, sediment is stored upstream of the lake as mid-channel and side-attached bars. During high-discharge events, water level rises above the topographically low delta front levees, the turbulent jet of the river is positioned upstream of the levee terminus where levees are less confining, and the previously stored sediment is flushed from the channel into the lake basin laterally as sheets. This process forms a laterally extensive, well sorted wedge shaped deposit of fine grained sand called a blowout wing (after Tomanka, 2013). These wings are documented in the ancient within the Kayenta Formation, UT, where the sand wings demonstrated a significant increase in connectivity between statistically clustered fluvio-lacustrine channel belts. In this research, we document two examples of blowout wings forming in the modern. The first example is a lake sourced by a mud dominated river (Denton Creek, Lake Grapevine, TX), and the second is a lake sourced by a sandy, bedload dominated river (Red River, Lake Texoma, TX). Wings are composed of fine to medium grained, well sorted, and clean sand. The deposits are thin and laterally continuous, with measured thicknesses of 5-10 cm that thin away from channel axis. Wings have an aerial extent up several hundred meters, scaling to 4-6 times the channel width. The Red River at Lake Texoma has a channel width of 125m and deposits wings with an aerial extent of 250-350m long along the levee of the delta channel and 300-500m laterally. As the Red River has prograded into the basin, 5-6 individual blowout wings form a wing complex 1500m long and 500-600m laterally from the channel. Denton Creek at Lake Grapevine has a channel width of 25m and deposits wings on the order of 50-125m along the levee of the delta channel and 60-150m laterally. Three wings at Lake Grapevine form a wing complex 300m long and 100-150m laterally. The amalgamation and statistical clustering of fluvio-deltaic channel belts is increased by the presence of blowout wings, resulting in higher total reservoir size and connectivity. Blowout wings should be, and are, found in modern systems and subsequently the rock record recording fluvio-lacustrine environments of deposition.

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GEOL2017MCGREGOR60725 GEOL

Humid terminal splays as sand-sheet reservoirs: A first look at the modern, Andean foreland, and a new look at the ancient, Raton Basin

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Graham McGregor Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): John Holbrook Geological Sciences

Thin sand sheets presumed to be terminal splay bodies have potential to serve as hydrocarbon reservoirs. The few studies of terminal splays managed from arid systems has provided insight, but ground study of the humid equivalent is lacking. Deposited in the distal zone of a distributary fluvial system (DFS), the splay bodies are formed as rivers terminate from loss of slope into unconfined dispersive flow and deposit bed load as splays and advect mud to more distal floodplains. The splay sheets and floodplain together provide potential for both reservoir and seal. We examined terminal splay deposits in a modern humid terminal splay system, Andean foreland of northern Argentina, and in ancient foreland deposits, Paleocene Raton Formation of the Colorado Raton Basin. I am going to compare the two locations in terms of grain-size, sedimentary structures, geometry, and scale and see how they relate. I hypothesize that the two are going to have similar grain sizes, and that the sedimentary structures and geometries will also be analogous but expect them to be scaled down in the Raton Basin.
The modern splay in Argentina is nearly 1.3 km wide and 1.9 km long and was deposited during a single large flood in 2012. Cross sections generated by hand augers show a maximum thickness of 0.8 m, an average of 0.5 m, and a consistently very fine-grained to lower medium-grained sand texture throughout. Total sand deposited in the flood event is ~ 1.2 million cubic meters (~2.0 million cubic meter maximum), and accumulates over earlier splay deposits separated by weakly developed soils that are locally removed by splay incision. Subsequent dissection of the splay permits examination of sedimentary structures, which are dominantly climbing ripples, planar laminations, and cross sets, but climbing antidunes are locally found near the splay apex. Ancient terminal splays of the Raton Formation are made of thinner sand sheets (~0.25 m) and tend to have thicker muddy floodplain deposits between. Grain-size distribution, sheet geometry, and sedimentary structures however are consistent between the modern and ancient examples. Both the Argentina and Raton examples reflect the distal end of a humid Distributive Fluvial System, however, the Raton system appears to have been of smaller scale. This is consistent with the comparatively smaller scale of the Raton vs. Andean tectonic system.

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GEOL2017MCGUIRE35162 GEOL

U-Pb Detrital Zircon Signature of the Ouachita Orogenic Belt

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Preston McGuire Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Xaingyang Xie Geological Sciences

The Late Paleozoic Ouachita fold-and-thrust belt extends from the southern terminus of the Appalachian thrust belt in eastern Mississippi up through central Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, and Texas terminating in northeastern Mexico. A series of Carboniferous foreland basins were formed sequentially to the thrust front. The interaction between the Laurentian craton and the Appalachian-Ouachita orogenic belts controlled sedimentation in the southern midcontinent region throughout the Paleozoic. In contrast to the Appalachian orogenic belt to the east, the Ouachita orogenic belt and associated sediments remain poorly documented and less constrained.
In this study, seven Ordovician to Mississippian aged clastic units from the Ouachita Mountain in central Arkansas were sampled and tested using U-Pb detrital zircon geochronology. Three major age peaks are prominent, including the Grenville Province (~0.95-1.2 Ga), the Granite-Rhyolite Province (~1.3-1.5 Ga), and the Superior Province (>~2.5 Ga) in Ordovician to Silurian aged rocks. A change in this signature becomes clear at the beginning of the Carboniferous from Early Mississippian Stanley Group samples showing the additional Paleozoic age peak (~490-520 Ma) potentially derived from the Appalachian orogenic belt to the east, and/or from peri-Gondwanan terranes accreted to Laurentia just before the collision with Gondwana. This stratigraphic variation of detrital zircon age signature suggests that the transition from a passive to an active margin in the Ouachita trough started, at the latest, in early Mississippian times. Results of this study is the first systematic study of the U-Pb detrital zircon signature of the Ouachita orogenic belt and have important implications in sediment dispersal, provenance interpretations, and paleogeography reconstructions in North America, especially in the southern mid-continent and surrounding areas.

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GEOL2017WALKER20025 GEOL

Geochemistry of the Albian Kiamichi Formation of East Texas

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Jessica Walker Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Richard Denne Geological Sciences

This study involved the examination of core samples from the Lower Cretaceous aged Kiamichi Formation of the East Texas Basin in order to interpret its organic and elemental geochemistry using various techniques. The Kiamichi Formation may have the potential to be a source rock for hydrocarbons, and may be a plausible target for oil and gas companies to produce using unconventional techniques. Since this formation has yet to be thoroughly analyzed, this project has lead to further understanding of its potential by using techniques such as handheld x-ray fluorescence tool to estimate for the abundance of rare earth elements and trace metals, as well as a CHNS analyzer to determine the amount of organic carbon of the formation. Upon completion of the sample analysis, this geochemical information about the Kiamichi Formation provides beneficial information for further research on the overall Kiamichi Seaway.

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GEOL2017WILLIAMS23742 GEOL

FRACTURE ANALYSIS AND MAPPING OF THE CRETACEOUS BOQUILLAS FORMATION, BLACK GAP WILDLIFE MANANGEMENT AREA, BREWSTER COUNTY, TX

Type: Graduate
Author(s): John Williams Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Helge Alsleben Geological Sciences

The Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas is one of the most prolific unconventional hydrocarbon plays in the world (Breyer, 2016). In 2015, natural gas and oil from this field hit peak production numbers at 5,539 MMcf (million cubic feet) and 1,118,648 Bbl (barrels) per day, respectively (Texas RRC, 2016).  In order for this low-permeability formation to produce, companies are using hydraulic fracturing, a stimulation treatment used in low-permeability rock whereby fluids are pumped at high pressures into reservoirs, causing new fractures to form and possibly reactivating existing fractures (Schlumberger, 2016).  The aim of this study is to identify any geomechanical and geochemical properties that optimize fracture connectivity within the Boquillas Formation, the West Texas Eagle Ford equivalent.  Energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence (ED-XRF) and strength/hardness data from this study suggests that fracture frequency and length are affected by the clay and calcium carbonate content, and, by inference, the strength of the rock.

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