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ALLUVIAL FANS

ALLUVIAL FANS
Morphology
Depositional Processes
Reservoir Potential
Alluvial Fans
Alluvial Fan Plan and Cross Section
Alluvial Fans, Death Valley, California
Alluvial Fans, Death Valley, California
Alluvial Fans, Arizona
Alluvial Fans, Arizona
Alluvial Fans: Devonian, UK
Alluvial Fans: Devonian, UK
ALLUVIAL FAN
ALLUVIAL FAN
DEVELOPMENT
DEVELOPMENT
Process and Product
Process and Product
Growth Mechanisms
Growth Mechanisms
Process of Fan Formation
Process of Fan Formation
Principal growth mechanisms include:
Avalanches and Rock Falls
Air Fall (volcanic basins only)
Debris flows
Sheet Floods and Stream Floods
Depositional products can be modified significantly
by eolian processes in desert environments
Alluvial Fan Development
Alluvial Fan Development
in a
in a
Humid, Volcanic Environment
Humid, Volcanic Environment
Emphasis: Sedimentary Processes from the
Canyon Head to the Distal Fan including --
Avalanches (Pyroclastic Flows)
Debris Flows (Lahars)
Streamfloods
Airfall
Growth of Recent Alluvial Fans in a
Growth of Recent Alluvial Fans in a
Humid Volcanic Basin, Guatemala
Humid Volcanic Basin, Guatemala
Location, Volcano
Location, Volcano
Fuego
Fuego
Volcano
Volcano
Fuego
Fuego
, 1973 Eruption
, 1973 Eruption
Canyon
Head of Alluvial Fan
Fuego
Fuego
Volcano: Ash Pillar and
Volcano: Ash Pillar and
Glowing Avalanches (
Glowing Avalanches (
Nuees Ardentes
Nuees Ardentes
)
)
Origin of airfall ash and
avalanche deposits
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: A
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: A
1
2
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: B
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: B
3
4
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: C
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: C
5 6
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: D
Glowing Avalanche Sequence: D
7
Night View of Eruption Showing
Night View of Eruption Showing
Glowing Avalanches
Glowing Avalanches
(These are NOT Lava Flows) (These are NOT Lava Flows)
Glowing Avalanche Deposits
Glowing Avalanche Deposits
1973 Eruption
1973 Eruption
Canyon Head and
Canyon Head and
Avalanche Surface
Avalanche Surface
Surface of a Single
Surface of a Single
Glowing Avalanche Deposit
Glowing Avalanche Deposit
Glowing Avalanche Deposits
Glowing Avalanche Deposits
Vertical section within a weathered
glowing avalanche deposit
Superimposed 1973 deposits:
terminus of new deposit
on rain-washed, older surface
Summary: Avalanches/Rock Falls
Summary: Avalanches/Rock Falls
Most common deposit of the proximal fan environment
The actual transport distance out onto the fan surface is a function of
Size of the individual episode -- large flows extend further than small
flows
Geometry
Form long, narrow, thin bodies that are oriented down- depositional
slope. Individual flows are difficult to identify
Autocyclic shifting of flow depocenters results in gradual shifting of
loci of deposition
Sediment characteristics
Wide range of grain sizes, from boulders to silt and clay-size grains:
very poorly sorted
Amount of clay size material is a function of source lithology and
degree of chemical weathering
Composition of grains/clasts a function of provenance
No internal sedimentary structures and no consistent change in
vertical or lateral distribution of textures (grain size, sorting)
Fuego
Fuego
: Ash Fall
: Ash Fall
Weathered ash fall (1966 eruption)
overlain by new ash fall (1973 eruption)
Distribution of Ash and Avalanche
Distribution of Ash and Avalanche
Deposits, 1973 Eruption, V.
Deposits, 1973 Eruption, V.
Fuego
Fuego
Airfall
Airfall
Characteristic of volcanic basins
Produces a widespread sheet of volcanic ash
May cover huge areas
The sheet is thickest in the down-wind direction of the
prevailing wind
Grain size coarsest near the source (the volcano crater)
The sheet thickens toward the source
An eruption normally produces numerous, separate,
often identifiable, airfall deposits
Airfall ash deposits form distinct layers that are well
sorted, parallel laminated and may be graded
Ash layers drape over and preserve topographic
features
Fan Head Avalanche Deposits
Fan Head Avalanche Deposits
Stream Erosion of
Stream Erosion of
Fan Head Avalanche Deposits
Fan Head Avalanche Deposits
Debris Flows (Lahars) and Stream
Debris Flows (Lahars) and Stream
Flows on Medial to Distal Alluvial Fans
Flows on Medial to Distal Alluvial Fans
Remobilization and Deposition of Ash and
Remobilization and Deposition of Ash and
Avalanche Sediments
Avalanche Sediments
Debris Flows
Debris Flows
Gravity-driven, downslope movement of a
concentrated mixture of sediment and water
Rapid (50km/hr)
Tend to move as " plugs" (Bingham substance --
characteristic of plastic, not fluid flow)
Dominant mechanism of sediment deposition on
proximal and medial fan. Large debris flows
extend out to distal fan extremities
Debris flows generally follow pre-existing stream
courses or topographic depressions on the fan
surface
Grains are separated by water (frictionless) and
absolute deceleration rates are low
Fan Head Debris Flows
Fan Head Debris Flows
Eroded by Later Stream Flow
Eroded by Later Stream Flow
Debris Flow Surface, Medial Fan
Debris Flow Surface, Medial Fan
(The flow has filled a pre
(The flow has filled a pre
-
-
existing river course)
existing river course)
Debris Flow Deposits,
Debris Flow Deposits,
Medial Alluvial Fan
Medial Alluvial Fan
Debris Flow Characteristics
Debris Flow Characteristics
Most common in proximal and medial portions of fan
Characteristic of humid environments
Geometry
Form long, narrow, thin bodies that are oriented down-
depositional slope. Individual flows are difficult to identify.
Commonly occupy stream courses
Autocyclic shifting of flow depocenters results in gradual
shifting of loci of deposition
Sediment characteristics
Wide range of grain sizes, from boulders to silt and clay-size
grains: very poorly sorted
Amount of clay size material is a function of source lithology and
degree of chemical weathering
Composition of grains/clasts a function of provenance
No internal sedimentary structures. Grain size may coarsen
upward. Often no consistent change in vertical or lateral
distribution of textures and sedimentary structures
Running Water
Running Water
Sheet Flood
Fan surface is covered by a thin sheet of running water
plus entrained sediment
Almost entirely a depositional process
Stream Flood
Confined to stream courses.
Responsible for erosion of the fan surface
Reworks previously deposited gravity flows
(avalanches, rock falls, debris flows)
Mixed erosional and depositional process
Stream
Stream
-
-
Flow Modification of
Flow Modification of
Debris Flows, Medial Alluvial Fan
Debris Flows, Medial Alluvial Fan
Stream
Stream
-
-
Flow Modification of
Flow Modification of
Debris Flows, Medial Fan
Debris Flows, Medial Fan
Stream Deposits, Distal Fan
Stream Deposits, Distal Fan
Deposits of Running Water
Deposits of Running Water
Dominant depositional mechanism on distal fan
Sheet flood deposits
Thin, laterally extensive deposits often called " sieve" deposits.
Flow ceases as water disappears downwards into the
underlying fan sediments
Generally the result of short-lived, high volume rainfall
Finer grained than gravity flow deposits, generally
structureless
Stream flood deposits
Deposited in multi-channel, braided streams
Oriented downslope: long, narrow, straight to slightly sinuous
bodies
Commonly bedded: alternating conglomerates and sands. No
consistent vertical change in grain size and sedimentary
structures
Reservoir Characterization and Delineation
Typically sand and gravel rich: proximal portion of drainage network
Framework facies are oriented parallel with depositional dip (Note:
avalanches and debris flows on fans commonly follow stream courses, theses
are topographic lows), but complex internal relationships such as down-
cutting and lateral incision result in highly complex reservoir distribution
Internal distribution of permeability within the reservoir body is highly
varied, both laterally and vertically, thus reservoir units are internally highly
heterogeneous
Framework sand bodies may or may not be interconnected
Lack of fine grained sealing and source facies is a major problem. The nature
of adjacent systems is important for hydrocarbon sourcing
Most reservoirs are structural traps. Continuity of sands (continuity of
lateral and vertical permeability) and absence of seals makes tectonic
structure a requirement for most traps
Localization of alluvial fans near basin margin faults also makes tectonic
structure important
Alluvial Fans: Learning Points