Anatomy, geometry and sequence stratigraphy of basin floor to slope turbidite systems, Tanqua Karoo, South Africa

Stephen David Johnson, Stephen Flint, David Hinds, H. De Ville Wickens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The Tanqua area of the Karoo basin, South Africa, contains five Permian deep-water turbidite fan systems, almost completely exposed over some 640 km2. Reconstruction of the basin-fill and fan distributions indicates a progradational trend in the 450 m+ thick succession, from distal basin floor (fan 1) through basin-floor subenvironments (fans 2, 3 and 4) to a slope setting (fan 5). Fans are up to 65 m thick with gradational to sharp bases and tops. Facies associations include basin plain claystone and distal turbidite siltstone/claystone and a range of fine-grained sandstone associations, including low- and high-density turbidite current deposits and proportionally minor debris/slurry flows. Architectural elements include sheets of amalgamated and layered styles and channels of five types. Each fan is interpreted as a low-frequency lowstand systems tract with the shaly interfan intervals representing transgressive and highstand systems tracts. All fans show complex internal facies distributions but exhibit a high-frequency internal stratigraphy based on fan-wide zones of relative sediment starvation. These zones are interpreted as transgressive and highstand systems tracts of higher order sequences. Sandy packages between these fine-grained intervals are interpreted as high-frequency lowstand systems tracts and exhibit dominantly progradational stacking patterns, resulting in subtle downdip clinoform geometries. Bases of fans and intrafan packages are interpreted as low- and high-frequency sequence boundaries respectively. Facies juxtapositions across these sequence boundaries are variable and may be gradational, sharp or erosive. In all cases, criteria for a basinward shift of facies are met, but there is no standard 'motif' for sequence boundaries in this system. High-frequency sequences represent the dominant mechanism of active fan growth in the Tanqua deep-water system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)987-1023
    Number of pages36
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • Architectural elements
    • Correlation
    • Karoo Basin
    • Sequence stratigraphy
    • Turbidites


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