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Paleocurrents of the Middle–Upper Jurassic strata in the Paradox Basin, Colorado, inferred from anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS)
  • John Ejembi,
  • Eric Ferre,
  • Sally Potter-McIntyre
John Ejembi

Corresponding Author:jejembi@siu.edu

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Eric Ferre
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Sally Potter-McIntyre
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The Middle–Upper Jurassic sedimentary strata in the southwestern Colorado Plateau recorded pervasive eolian to fluvio-lacustrine deposition in the Paradox Basin. While paleocurrents preserved in the Entrada Sandstone, an eolian deposition in the Middle Jurassic, has been well constrained and show a northwesterly to northeasterly migration of ergs from the south onto the Colorado Plateau, there is yet no clear resolution of the paleocurrents preserved in the Wanakah Formation and Tidwell Member of the Morrison Formation, both of which are important sedimentary sequences in the paleogeographic framework of the Colorado Plateau. New U–Pb detrital zircon geochronology of sandstones from these sequences suggests that an abrupt change in provenance occurred in the early Late Jurassic, with sediments largely sourced from eroding highlands in central Colorado. We measured the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) of sediments in oriented sandstone samples from these three successive sequences; first, to determine the paleocurrents from the orientations of the AMS fabrics in order to delineate the source area and sediments dispersal pattern and second, to determine the depositional mechanisms of the sediments. Preliminary AMS data from two study sites show consistency and clustering of the AMS axes in all the sedimentary sequences. The orientations of the Kmin – Kint planes in the Entrada Sandstone sample point to a NNE–NNW paleocurrent directions, which is in agreement with earlier studies. The orientations of the Kmin – Kint planes in the Wanakah Formation and Tidwell Member samples show W–SW trending paleocurrent directions, corroborating our hypothesis of a shift in provenance to the eroding Ancestral Front Range Mountain, located northeast of the Paradox Basin, during the Late Jurassic. Isothermal remanence magnetization (IRM) of the samples indicate that the primary AMS carriers are detrital, syndepositional ferromagnetic minerals. Thus, we contend that AMS can be successfully deployed in constraining paleocurrents in lacustrine sedimentary strata, which lacks traditional sedimentary structures for paleocurrent analyses.