Ice-margin fluctuation sequences and grounding zone wedges: The record of the Late Palaeozoic Ice Age in the eastern Karoo Basin (Dwyka Group, South Africa)

Pierre Dietrich, Axel Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the eastern part of the Karoo Basin of South Africa, the sedimentary record of the Late Palaeozoic Ice Age, the Dwyka Group, consists of an up to 200 m thick accumulation of massive to crudely stratified diamictite occasionally interstratified with siltstone, sandstone and conglomerate horizons. Three distinct sedimentary units, separated by intervening glacial erosion surfaces, are viewed as ice-margin fluctuation sequences. The lowermost one, resting on highly uneven, glacially abraded Archaean basement, has been interpreted as a grounding zone wedge deposited after the retreat and stabilization of the ice margin after the inundation of the Karoo Basin. The grounding zone wedge interpretation is based on its thickness (up to 100 m), the dominance of diamictite, and its facies assemblage and inferred depositional processes (rain-out of debris, dropstone dumping, mass and debris flow, till). Overlying the grounding zone wedge, deposits are sedimentary units interpreted as glaciofluvial or ice-contact delta and grounding zone wedges, respectively. By analogy with Quaternary sedimentary sequences, deposition of the Dwyka Group in the study area might have been very rapid (tens to hundreds of thousand years) and may hence correlate with the ultimate deglacial sequence of the Western Karoo Basin, as both successions are covered by the postglacial Ecca Group. Although commonly observed and imaged on modern, high-latitude continental shelves, grounding zone wedges have never been interpreted in the ancient geological record. This paper therefore outlines a model defining criteria necessary for their identification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-271
Number of pages25
JournalDepositional Record
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Dwyka
  • Karoo
  • Late Palaeozoic Ice Age
  • South Africa
  • exhumed glacial landscape
  • grounding zone wedge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Paleontology

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