Shoreline trajectory and its impact on coastal depositional environments: an example from the Upper Cretaceous Mesaverde Group, northwestern Colorado, U.S.A.

Scott A. Bullimore, William Helland-Hansen, Sverre Henriksen, Ronald John Steel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Marginal marine Trout Creek Sandstone and related Mount Harris Fork Member coastal-plain deposits (Campanian Mesaverde Group) are the regressive portion of a third-order clastic wedge that prograded from west to east into the Western Interior Seaway, Colorado, U.S.A. Progradation of this wedge was punctuated by seven higher-frequency (fourth-order) transgressions that formed as the wedge aggraded. Relationships between changes in shoreface and adjacent coastal-plain environments and stacking patterns of the Trout Creek Sandstone were analyzed using the shoreline trajectory concept.
Fourth-order shoreface tongues prograded up to 50 kilometers into the basin and are characterized by descending and flat shoreline trajectory trends that are symptomatic of falling or stable relative-sea-level conditions. Normal regression is interpreted to occur only in the most basinward portions of these tongues, prior to transgression. Time-equivalent coastal-plain facies associations either record periods of sediment bypass, consist of amalgamated channel complexes, or form a thin succession of lower-delta-plain sediments accumulated behind aggrading shoreface deposits during the terminal sea-level lowstand. Fourth-order transgressive events possess shoreline trajectory trends that become progressively more accretionary as the transgression proceeded. In a landward direction, offshore shale grades into aggrading barrier complexes that are laterally equivalent to thick coastal-plain successions (consisting of stacked lagoon/bay-fill and floodplain facies associations). Tidal-channel sandstones and isolated, fluvial sandstones are also recognized in transgressive settings.
Regression and transgression of the coastline is respectively associated with increases in the storage of sediment within shoreface and coastal-plain environments. Differing styles of shoreface and coastal-plain stacking patterns reflect varying shoreline-trajectory trends. Observed relationships between shoreline trajectories and the character of paralic depositional environments have important implications for predicting shoreface thickness and the presence of extensive fluvial channel-belt reservoirs in adjacent areas.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecent Advances in Models of Siliciclastic Shallow-Marine Stratigraphy
EditorsGary J. Hampson
Place of PublicationTulsa, OK, USA
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)1565761316, 978-1565761315
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2008
EventResearch Conference of the Society for Sedimentary Geology - Grand Junction, Colorado, United States
Duration: 24 Aug 200428 Aug 2004

Publication series

NameSEPM Special Publications
PublisherSEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology)


ConferenceResearch Conference of the Society for Sedimentary Geology
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityGrand Junction, Colorado

Bibliographical note

This volume arose from an SEPM research conference on shoreline-shelf stratigraphy that was held in Grand ]unction, Colorado, on August 24-28, 2004. The aim of the resulting volume is to high¬light the development over the last 15 years of the stratigraphic concepts and models that are used to interpret siliciclastic mar-ginal-marine, shallow-marine, and shelf deposits.


  • Trout Creek
  • regressive-transgressive shoreline trajectory
  • hummocky cross-stratification
  • trace fossils
  • paleoenvironmental significance
  • sequence stratigraphy
  • sea-level
  • facies
  • origin
  • basin
  • storm
  • ophiomorpha


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