Bulge Migration and Pinnacle Reef Development, Devonian Appalachian Basin

TitleBulge Migration and Pinnacle Reef Development, Devonian Appalachian Basin
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsVer Straeten, CA, Brett, C
JournalJournal of Geology
Keywordscarbonate‐dominated strata, Early Eifelian, Late Emsian, Lower to Middle Devonian, northern Appalachian Basin, stratigraphic analyses

Detailed stratigraphic analyses of Late Emsian and Early Eifelian (Lower to Middle Devonian) carbonate‐dominated strata in the northern Appalachian Basin indicate anomalous, locally varying relative sea level changes and inversions of topography. The distribution of a major basal‐bounding unconformity, basinal pinnacle reefs, local absence of parasequences, and eastward migration of shallow marine carbonate lithofacies and related biofacies in the Onondaga Limestone and underlying strata mark the retrograde migration of an elongate, northeast‐southwest‐trending area of positive relief, bordered on its cratonward side by a similarly migrating basin of intermediate depth. These features are thought to represent the forebulge and back‐bulge basin of the Appalachian foreland basin system as it developed during a time of relative quiescence within the Acadian Orogeny. However, the relatively small size of the bulgelike feature (ca. 80–100‐km‐wide, 20–50‐m positive relief), its great distance from the probable deformation front (>400 km), and the lack of a well‐developed foredeep immediately adjacent to the bulgelike feature may indicate that it represents a smaller‐scale flexural high (“flexural welt”) superposed over the cratonward edge of the larger‐scale classical forebulge of the basin. Development of shallow‐water reefs on the crest of the bulge during sea level lowstand, followed by migration of the bulge and widespread transgression, permitted growth of economically significant pinnacle reefs in the deep basin center. Further subsurface reef exploration should concentrate along the projected position of the bulge during the basal Onondaga lowstand.