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A facies model for internalites (internal wave deposits) on a gently sloping carbonate ramp (Upper Jurassic, Ricla, NE Spain)

Bádenas, Beatriz, Pomar, Luis, Aurell, Marc, Morsilli, Michele
Sedimentary geology 2012 v.271-272 pp. 44-57
energy, lakes, models, oceans, sand, Spain
Internal waves are waves that propagate along the pycnocline, the interface between two density-stratified fluids. Even though internal waves are ubiquitous in oceans and lakes, their impact in the sedimentary record has remained largely unrecognized. Internal waves can remobilize the sediment from the depth at which the internal waves break onto the sea floor. In shelf, or ramp settings, internal wave deposits (internalites) have to be distinguished from tempestites while in slope and deeper settings internalites require distinction from turbidites. The Upper Kimmeridgian carbonate ramp succession cropping out near Ricla (NE Spain) provides some key evidence to differentiate the depositional processes induced by breaking internal waves from those related to surface storm waves. Sandy-oolitic grainstone eventites, previously interpreted as tempestites, contain evidence of reworking by turbulent events related to breaking internal waves. Underlying rationale are: 1) they occur in distal mid-ramp position, detached from the coeval shallow-water successions; 2) they do not have the characteristic coarsening- and thickening upward trend of storm deposits; 3) they gradually thin-out to disappear both up dip and down dip, interbedded with mid-ramp lime mudstones; and 4) they show little or no erosion towards the shallower areas. A facies model for internalites produced by two sediment populations, sand and mud, on a gently sloping carbonate ramp is proposed. The individual internalites occurring at Ricla include several architectural elements, sequentially organized in dip direction, which can be related to the flows associated with breaking internal waves: erosion in the breaker zone, swash run-up and tractive backwash flow. Individual internalites stack, with down- and up-slope shingling configuration, in dm-thick packages thought to reflect the up-slope and down-slope migration of the breaker zone, in turn related to depth variations of the palaeo-pycnocline. Packages occur in dm- to m-thick clusters suggested to reflect changes in sediment supply and/or variations in water stratification affecting the energy of internal waves.