Vertical changes in shoreline morphology at intra-parasequence scale


  • Manuel F. Isla Centro de Investigaciones Geológicas (Universidad Nacional de La Plata-CONICET). Diagonal 113 #275 B1904DPK, La Plata, Argentina.
  • Mariano N. Remirez Centro de Investigaciones Geológicas (Universidad Nacional de La Plata-CONICET). Diagonal 113 #275 B1904DPK, La Plata, Argentina.
  • Ernesto Schwarz Centro de Investigaciones Geológicas (Universidad Nacional de La Plata-CONICET). Diagonal 113 #275 B1904DPK, La Plata, Argentina.
  • Gonzalo D. Veiga Centro de Investigaciones Geológicas (Universidad Nacional de La Plata-CONICET). Diagonal 113 #275 B1904DPK, La Plata, Argentina.

Palabras clave:

intra-parasequence stratigraphy, barred shorelines, non-barred shorelines, Pilmatué Member, Neuquén Basin


It is commonly assumed in the high-resolution sequence stratigraphic analysis of shallow-marine deposits (e.g., deltaic and shoreface settings) that the depositional conditions of the system remain relatively constant during the transit of a shoreline that would eventually produce a single parasequence. However, based on the detailed sedimentary and architectural analysis of upper-shoreface and foreshore strata of two Early Cretaceous shoreface-shelf parasequences (Neuquén Basin, Argentina), it was possible to document a vertical change through the stratigraphy from deposits representing wave-dominated barred shorelines to deposits interpreted as representing a non-barred morphology. The presence of a well-defined limit between trough cross-bedded sandstones in the upper shoreface and planar laminated sandstones in the foreshore (and the presence of a surf diastem) characterize the development of barred shoreline conditions. Instead, planar lamination is ubiquitous within non-barred deposits, where trough cross-bedding is restricted to the bottomsets of the large-scale inclined beds that characterize this architectural style. Thickness, sediment composition and reconstructed shoreline trajectory also seemingly change vertically within the investigated parasequences. Collectively, these pieces of evidence suggest that the vertical transition from barred to non-barred deposits at this intra-parasequence scale could be related to wave-climate variations and the sequence-stratigraphic context. Specifically, changes in the prevailing wave behavior from dissipative to reflective conditions could be a feasible explanation for the morphological transformation of coastal systems through tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands years.


Aagaard, T., M. Hughes, R. Møller-Sørensen and S. Andersen, 2006. Hydrodynamics and sediment fluxes across an onshore migrating intertidal bar. Journal of Coastal Research 22: 247-259.

Aagaard, T., B. Greenwood and M., Hughes, 2013. Sediment transport on dissipative, intermediate and reflective beaches. Earth-Science Reviews 124: 32-50.

Ainsworth, R., S. Flint and J. Howell, 2008. Predicting coastal depositional style: influence of basin morphology and accommodation to sediment supply ratio within a sequence stratigraphic framework. In Hampson, G.J., Steel, R.J., Burgess, P.M., and Dalrymple, R.W., (Eds.) Recent Advances in Models of Siliciclastic Shallow-Marine Stratigraphy. SEPM, Special Publication 90: 237-263.

Amorosi, A., L. Bruno, B. Campo, A. Morelli, V. Rossi, D. Scarponi, W. Hong, K.M. Bohacs and T.M. Drexler, 2017. Global sea-level control on local parasequence architecture from the Holocene record of the Po Plain, Italy. Marine and Petroleum Geology 87: 99-111.

Anthony, E.J., 2008. Shore processes and their palaeoenvironmental applications (Vol. 4). Elsevier, 518 pp.

Berton, F., C.C.F. Guedes, F.F. Vesely, M.C. Souza, R.J. Angulo, M.L.C.C. Rosa and E.G. Barboza, 2019. Quaternary coastal plains as reservoir analogs: Wave-dominated sand-body heterogeneity from outcrop and ground-penetrating radar, central Santos Basin, southeast Brazil. Sedimentary Geology 379: 97-113.

Bruno, L., K.M. Bohacs, B. Campo, T.M. Drexler, V. Rossi, I. Sammartino, D. Scarponi, W. Hong and A. Amorosi, 2017. Early Holocene transgressive palaeogeography in the Po coastal plain (northern Italy). Sedimentology 64: 1792-1816.

Burgess, P.M., H. Lammers, C. Van Oosterhout and D. Granjeon, 2006. Multivariate sequence stratigraphy: Tackling complexity and uncertainty with stratigraphic forward modeling, multiple scenarios, and conditional frequency maps. AAPG Bulletin 90: 1883-1901.

Burgess, P.M., P.A. Allen and R.J. Steel, 2016. Introduction to the future of sequence stratigraphy: evolution or revolution?. Journal of Geological Society 173: 801-802.

Catuneanu, O., 2019. Model-independent sequence stratigraphy. Earth-Science Reviews 188: 312-388.

Charvin, K., G.J. Hampson, K.L. Gallagher and R. Labourdette, 2010. Intra-parasequence architecture of an interpreted asymmetrical wave-dominated delta. Sedimentology 57: 760-785.

Clifton, H.E., 2006. A re-examination of facies models for clastic shorelines. In H.W., Posamentier and R.G., Walker (Eds.) Facies Models Revisited. SEPM Special Publication 84, p. 293-337.

Colombera, L. and N.P. Mountney, 2020. On the geological significance of clastic parasequences. Earth-Science Reviews, in press.

Cowell, P.J., P.S. Roy and R.A. Jones, 1995. Simulation of large-scale coastal change using a morphological behavior model. Marine Geology 126: 45-61.

Cummings, D.I., S. Dumas and R.W. Dalrymple, 2009. Fine-grained versus coarse-grained wave ripples generated experimentally under large-scale oscillatory flow. Journal of Sedimentary Research 79: 83-93.

Davidson-Arnott R.G.D., 2010. Introduction to coastal processes and geomorphology. Cambridge university press, 442 pp.

Davidson-Arnott, R.G.D. and B. Greenwood, 1976. Facies relation­ships on a barred coast, Kouchibouguac Bay, New Brunswick, Canada, in Davis R.A.Jr., and Ethington, R.L., eds., Beach and Nearshore Sedimentation. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication 24: 149-168.

Forzoni, A., G.J. Hampson and J.E.A. Storms, 2015. Along-strike variations in stratigraphic architecture of shallow-marine reservoir analogues: Upper Cretaceous Panther Tongue delta and coeval shoreface, Star Point Sandstone, Wasatch platea, Central Utah, U.S.A. Journal of Sedimentary Research 85: 968-989.

Gani, M.R. and J.P. Bhattacharya, 2007. Basic Building Blocks and Process Variability of a Cretaceous Delta: Internal Facies Architecture Reveals a More Dynamic Interaction of River, Wave, and Tidal Processes Than Is Indicated by External Shape. Journal of Sedimentary Research 77: 284-302.

Gingras, M.K., M.E. Ra?sa?nen, S.G. Pemberton and L.P. Romero, 2002. Ichnology and sedimentology reveal depositional characteristics of bay-margin parasequences in the Miocene Amazonian foreland basin. Journal of Sedimentary Research 72: 871-883.

Graham, G.H., Jackson, M. D. and Hampson, G. J., 2015. Three-dimensional modeling of clinoforms in shallow-marine reservoirs: Part 1. Concepts and application. AAPG Bulletin 99: 1013-1047.

Greenwood, B. and Davidson-Arnott, R.G., 1979. Sedimentation and equilibrium in wave-formed bars: a review and case study. Canadian Journal of Earth Science 16: 312-332.

Greenwood, B. and P.R. Mittler, 1985. Vertical sequence and lateral transitions in the facies of a barred nearshore environment. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 55: 366-375.

Hampson, G.J., 2016. Towards a sequence stratigraphic solution set for autogenic processes and allogenic controls: Upper Cretaceous strata, Book Cliffs, Utah, USA. Journal of Geological Society 173: 817-836.

Hampson, G.J., 2000. Discontinuity surfaces, clinoforms, and facies architecture in a wave-dominated, shoreface-shelf parasequence. Journal of Sedimentary Research 70: 325-340.

Hampson, G.J. and J.A. Howell, 2005. Sedimentologic and geomorphic characterization of ancient wave-dominated shorelines: examples from the Late Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, Book Cliffs, Utah. In Bhattacharya, J.P., and Giosan, L., (eds.) Deltas Old and New. SEPM, Special Publication 83: 133-154.

Hampson, G.J., A.B. Rodriguez, J.E.A. Storms, H.D. Johnson and G.T. Meyer, 2008. Geomorphology and high?resolution stratigraphy of progradational wave?dominated shoreline deposits: impact on reservoir?scale facies architecture. In Hampson, G.J., Steel, R.J., Burgess, P.M., and Dalrymple, R.W., (eds.) Recent Advances in Models of Siliciclastic Shallow?Marine Stratigraphy. SEPM, Special Publication 90: 117-142.

Hampson, G.J., Gani, M.R., Sahoo, H., Rittersbacher, A., Irfan, N., Ranson, A., Jewell, T.O., Gani, N.D.S., Howell, J.A., Buckley, S.J. and B. Bracken, 2012. Controls on large?scale patterns of fluvial sandbody distribution in alluvial to coastal plain strata: Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation, Wasatch Plateau, Central Utah, USA. Sedimentology 59: 2226-2258.

Helland-Hansen, W. and O.J. Martinsen, 1996. Shoreline trajectories and sequences; description of variable depositional-dip scenarios. Journal of Sedimentary Research 66: 670-688.

Heller, P.L., B.A. Burns and M. Marzo, 1993. Stratigraphic solution sets for determining the roles of sediment supply, subsidence, and sea level on transgressions and regressions. Geology 21: 747-750.

Howell, J.A., E. Schwarz, L.A. Spalletti and G.D. Veiga, 2005. The Neuquén basin: an overview. In Veiga, G.D., Spalletti, L.A., Howell, J.A., and Schwarz, E., (eds.) The Neuquén Basin, Argentina: A Case Study in Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Dynamics. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 252: 1-14.

Hughes, M.G., T. Aagaard, T.E. Baldock and H.E. Power, 2014. Spectral signatures for swash on reflective, intermediate and dissipative beaches. Marine Geology 355: 88-97.

Hunter, R.E., H.E. Clifton and R.L. Phillips, 1979. Depositional processes, sedimentary structures, and predicted vertical sequences in barred nearshore systems, southern Oregon coast. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 49: 711-726.

Isla, M.F., 2019. Estratigrafía secuencial de alta resolución de las unidades marino someras del Miembro Pilmatué (Formación Agrio) en la Cuenca Neuquina central: procesos, implicancias paleogeográficas y caracterización de reservorios. Tesis Doctoral, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 317 pp. (inédito).

Isla, M.F., E. Schwarz and G.D. Veiga, 2018. Bedset characterization within a wave-dominated shallow-marine succession: an evolutionary model related to sediment imbalances. Sedimentary Geology 374: 36-52.

Isla, M.F., E. Schwarz and G.D. Veiga, 2020. The record of a non-barred clastic shoreline. Geology, in press.

Lazo D., M. Cichowolski, D. Rodríguez and M.B. Aguirre-Urreta, 2005. Lithofacies, palaeoecology and palaeoenvironments of the Agrio Formation, Lower Cretaceous of the Neuquén Basin, Argentina. In Veiga, G.D., Spalletti, L.A., Howell, J.A., and Schwarz, E., (eds.) The Neuquén Basin, Argentina: A Case Study in Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Dynamics. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 252: 295-315.

Legarreta, L. and M.A. Uliana, 1991. Jurassic-Cretaceous marine oscillations and geometry of a back-arc basin fill, central Argentine Andes. In MacDonald, D.I.M., (ed.) Sedimentation, tectonics and eustacy. Sea level changes at active margins. IAS, Special Publication 12: 429-450.

Li, L., Walstra, D.J.R. and J.E.A. Storms, 2015. The impact of wave-induced longshore transport on a delta-shoreface system. Journal of Sedimentary Research 85: 6-20.

Longhitano, S.G. and R.J. Steel, 2017. Deflection of the progradational axis and asymmetry in tidal seaway and strait deltas: insights from two outcrop case studies. In G.J., Hampson, A.D., Reynolds, B., Kostic and M.R., Well (Eds.) Sedimentology of paralic reservoirs: recent advances. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 444: 141-172.

Maceachern, J.A. and S.G. Pemberton, 1992. Ichnological aspects of Cretaceous shoreface succession and shoreface variability in the Western Interior Seaway of North America. In Pemberton, S.G., (ed.) Applications of Ichnology to Petroleum Exploration. SEPM, Core Workshop 17: 57-84.

Masselink, G. and J.A. Puleo, 2006. Swash-zone morphodynamics. Continental Shelf Research 26: 661-680.

Miall, A.D., 1985. Architectural-element analysis: a new method of facies analysis applied to fluvial deposits. Earth-Science Reviews 22: 261-308.

Miall, A.D., 1988. Architectural elements and bounding surfaces in fluvial deposits: anatomy of the Kayenta Formation (Lower Jurassic), southwest Colorado. Sedimentary Geology 55: 233-262.

Muto, T., R.J. Steel and P.M. Burgess, 2016. Contributions to sequence stratigraphy from analogue and numerical experiments. Journal of Geological Society 173: 837-844.

Niedoroda, A.W., D.J. Swift, A.G.Jr. Figueiredo and G.L. Freeland, 1985. Barrier island evolution, middle Atlantic shelf, USA Part II: Evidence from the shelf floor. Marine Geology 63: 363-396.

Ortiz, A.C. and A.D. Ashton, 2016. Exploring shoreface dynamics and a mechanistic explanation for a morphodynamic depth of closure: Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface 121: 442-464.

Otvos, E.G., 2000. Beach ridges—definitions and significance. Geomorphology 32: 83-108.

Pattison, S.A., 1995. Sequence stratigraphic significance of sharp-based lowstand shoreface deposits, Kenilworth Member, Book Cliffs, Utah. AAPG bulletin 79: 444-462.

Pellegrini, C., V. Maselli, F. Gamberi, A. Asioli, K.M. Bohacs, T.M. Drexler and F. Trincardi, 2017. How to make a 350-m-thick lowstand systems tract in 17,000 years: The Late Pleistocene Po River (Italy) lowstand wedge. Geology 45: 327-330.

Plint, A.G., 2010. Facies models 4. GEOtext 6: 167-199.

Posamentier, H.W. and G.P. Allen, 1999. Siliciclastic sequence stratigraphy: concepts and applications. SEPM, Concepts in Sedimentology and Palaeontology 7, 216 pp.

Reading, H.G. and J.D. Collinson, 1996. Clastic Coasts, in Reading, H.G., ed., Sedimentary Environments: Processes, Facies and Stratigraphy. Blackwell Science, Oxford, p. 154-231.

Ridente, D., 2016. Releasing the sequence stratigraphy paradigm. Overview and perspectives. Journal of the Geological Society 173: 845-853.

Rodriguez, A.B., J.B. Anderson and A.R. Simms, 2005. Terrace inundation as an autocyclic mechanism for parasequence formation: Galveston Estuary, Texas, USA. Journal of Sedimentary Research 75: 608-620.

Sagasti, G., 2005. Hemipelagic record of orbitally-induced dilution cycles in Lower Cretaceous sediments of the Neuquén Basin. In Veiga, G.D., Spalletti, L.A., Howell, J.A., and Schwarz, E., (eds.) The Neuquén Basin, Argentina: A Case Study in Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Dynamics. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 252: 231-250.

Schwartz, R.K. and W.A. Birkemeier, 2004. Sedimentology and morphodynamics of a barrier island shoreface related to engineering concerns, Outer Banks, NC, USA. Marine Geology 211: 215-255.

Schwarz E. and J.A. Howell, 2005. Sedimentary evolution and depositional architecture of a Lowstand Sequence Set: The Lower Cretaceous Mulichinco Formation, Neuquén Basin, Argentina. In Veiga, G.D., Spalletti, L.A., Howell, J.A., and Schwarz, E., (eds.) The Neuquén Basin, Argentina: A Case Study in Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Dynamics. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 252: 109-138.

Schwarz, E., G.D. Veiga, G. Álvarez Trentini, M.F. Isla and L.A. Spalletti, 2018. Expanding the spectrum of shallow-marine, mixed carbonate-siliciclastic systems: processes, facies distribution, and depositional controls of a siliciclastic-dominated example. Sedimentology 65: 1558-1589.

Scotese, C.R., 2000. The Paleomap Project: World Wide Web address:

Sech, R.P., M.D. Jackson and G.J. Hampson, 2009. Three-dimensional modeling of a shoreface-shelf parasequence reservoir analog: Part 1. Surface-based modeling to capture high-resolution facies architecture. AAPG Bulletin 93: 1155-1181.

Sømme, T.O., J.A. Howell, G.J. Hampson, J.E.A. Storms, R.J. Steel, P.M. Burgess and R.W. Dalrymple, 2008. Genesis, architecture, and numerical modeling of intra-parasequence discontinuity surfaces in wave-dominated deltaic deposits: Upper Cretaceous Sunnyside Member, Blackhawk Formation, Book Cliffs, Utah, USA. In Hampson, G.J., Steel, R.J., Burgess, P.M., and Dalrymple, R.W., eds., Recent Advances in Models of Siliciclastic Shallow?Marine Stratigraphy. SEPM, Special Publication 90: 421-441.

Spalletti L., G.D. Veiga and E. Schwarz, 2011. La Formación Agrio (Cretácico temprano) en la Cuenca Neuquina. Relatorio del XVIII Congreso Geológico Argentino, p. 145-157.

Storms, J.E.A. and G.J. Hampson, 2005. Mechanisms for forming discontinuity surfaces within shoreface–shelf parasequences: sea level, sediment supply, or wave regime?. Journal of Sedimentary Research 75: 67-81.

Swift, D.J., 1975. Barrier-island genesis: evidence from the central Atlantic shelf, eastern USA. Sedimentary Geology 14: 1-43.

Swift, D.J., B.S. Parsons, A. Foyle and G.F. Oertel, 2003. Between beds and sequences: stratigraphic organization at intermediate scales in the Quaternary of the Virginia coast, USA. Sedimentology 50: 81-111.

Tamura, T., 2012. Beach ridges and prograded beach deposits as palaeoenvironment records. Earth-Science Reviews 114: 279-297.

Van Wagoner, J.C., R.M.J. Mitchum, K.M. Campion and V.D. Rahmanian, 1990. Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores, and Outcrop: Concepts for High?Resolution Correlation of Time and Facies. AAPG Methods in Exploration 7: 55 pp.

Van Wagoner, J.C., H.W. Posamentier, R.M.J. Mitchum, P.R. Vail, J.F. Sarg, T.S. Loutit and J. Hardenbol, 1988. An overview of the fundamentals of sequence stratigraphy and key definitions. In Wilgus, C.K., Hastings, B.S., Kendall, C.G.S.C., Posamentier, H.W., Ross, C.A., and Van Wagoner, J.C., eds., Sea?Level Changes: an Integrated Approach. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists 42: 39-45.

Veiga, G.D., L.A. Spalletti and S.S. Flint, 2007. Anatomy of fluvial lowstand wedge: the Avilé member of the Agrio Formation (Hauterivian) in central Neuquén Basin (northwest Neuquén Province), Argentina. In Nichols, G., Williams, E., and Paola, C., eds., Sedimentary Processes, Environments and Basins, A tribute to Peter Friend. IAS, Special Publication 38: 341-365.

Vergani, G.D., Tankard, A.J., Belotti, H.J. and H.J. Welsink, 1995. Tectonic evolution and paleogeography of the Neuqu6n Basin, Argentina. In: Tankard, A.J., Suarez Soruco, R., and Welsink, H.J., eds., Petroleum Basins of South America. AAPG Memoirs 62: 383-402.

Wijnberg, K.N. and A. Kroon, 2002. Barred beaches. Geomorphology 48: 103-120.

Wright, L.D. and A.D. Short, 1984. Morphodynamic variability of surf zones and beaches: A synthesis. Marine Geology 56: 93-118.

Wright, L.D., J.D. Boon, S.C. Kim and J.H. List, 1991. Modes of cross-shore sediment transport on the shoreface of the Middle Atlantic Bight. Marine Geology 96: 19-51.

Zecchin, M., M. Caffau, O. Catuneanu and D. Lenaz, 2017. Discrimination between wave-ravinment surfaces and bedset boundaries in Pliocene shallow-marine deposits, Crotone Basin, southern Italy: An integrated sedimentological, micropalaeontological and mineralogical approach. Sedimen­tology 64: 1755-1791.

Zecchin, M. and O. Catuneanu, 2013. High-resolution sequence stratigraphy of clastic shelves I: Units and bounding surfaces. Marine and Petroleum Geology 39: 1-25.

Zhang, Y., D.J.P. Swift, A.W. Niedoroda, C.W. Reid and J.A. Thorne, 1997. Simulation of sedimentary facies on the northern California shelf: implications for an analytical theory of facies differentiation. Geology 27: 635-638.




Cómo citar

Isla, M. F., Remirez, M. N., Schwarz, E., & Veiga, G. D. (2020). Vertical changes in shoreline morphology at intra-parasequence scale. Latin American Journal of Sedimentology and Basin Analysis, 27(2), 85-106. Recuperado a partir de



Trabajos de investigación