Numerous well-preserved, exhumed paleochannels in the Morrison, Cedar Mountain and Dakota Sandstone formations are exposed east of Castle Dale, Utah. These channels consist primarily of point bar complexes and scattered, low sinuosity channels. To determine the vertical and lateral relationships of these channels within the Cedar Mountain and Dakota Sandstone formations, a 1:24,000 scale geologic map covering ~140 km2 was created showing the fluvial sandstones. In the study area the Cedar Mountain Formation consists, from bottom to top, of 2.5-10 m of Buckhorn Conglomerate Member equivalent units, ~80 m of the Ruby Ranch Member, and ~30 m of the Mussentuchit Member. The Dakota Sandstone consists of conglomeratic to sandy, meandering channel fills within the Mussentuchit Member. The Ruby Ranch-Mussentuchit member contact is diagnosed as the top of a laterally extensive, ~10 meter thick, maroon paleosol with calcrete horizons and root traces. When deeply weathered the contact is discernable as a shift from maroon mudstone to a pale green-white, silty mudstone. Like the balance of the Mussentuchit Member overbank deposits, the white-green mudstone is rich in smectitic clays. In the southern one-third of the mapped area, Ruby Ranch Member sandstones are thin, discontinuous channel segments surrounded by floodplain deposits. In the middle to northern area, point bar complexes dominate, some of which are laterally amalgamated. Flow direction data from four meander complexes and a low sinuosity channel indicate an average northeast flow. Dakota Sandstone channels all of which are within the Mussentuchit Member also flowed to the northeast but point bar complexes are both more numerous and more laterally continuous than in the Ruby Ranch Member, indicating deposition in an area with less accommodation space than during Ruby Ranch Member time. The data indicate the Dakota Sandstone consists exclusively of fluvial sandstones encased within the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation. Therefore, these units are coeval and simply different facies of the same depositional system. Consequently the Mussentuchit Member is considered a member facies of the Dakota Formation.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



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exhumed paleochannel, point bar complex, Cedar Mountain Formation, Dakota Sandstone, Mussentuchit Member, Ruby Ranch Member



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