Ancient Sedimentary Environments: And Their Sub-surface Diagnosis

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According to the sedimentological study performed at the western side of the basin, the basin originated as a half graben in the early Miocene and evolved into an asymmetric graben in the Quaternary [ 27 ]. The soft-sediment deformation structures investigated in this study occur in the Kolankaya Formation exposed along the NW-SE trended Karakova horst uplift Figure 1.

At the western part of the basin from base to the top, the Kolankaya Formation is represented by shallow lake-, deep lake- and fluviolacustrine deposits [ 27 ]. The formation is represented by only deep lake- and lacustrine fan delta deposits in the present study area. Gray-beige-coloured marls are fine to medium-bedded and abundantly fossiliferous Miocene: Parapodiums sp.

Pliocene: Mimomys pliocaeinicus, Borsodia sp. The sandy layers are usually poorly bedded, unconsolidated, and medium to coarse-grained and dark yellow to brown in colour. Classification of the soft-sediment deformation structures is based on morphological features.

Ancient sedimentary environments and their sub-surface diagnosis

In the present study, classifications and terms suggested by Lowe [ 35 ], Brenchley and Newall [ 36 ], Mills [ 37 ], Owen [ 1 , 38 ], and Neuwerth et al. Soft-sediment deformation structures in the Kolankaya Formation are encountered mostly in the area of the Karakova uplift Figure 1. The most frequently deformed lithologies are restricted to fine to medium-grained sands, marl, and gravely sand.

The following structures have been observed Figures 2 b and 2 c. Classification of these structures was made based on the criteria suggested by Owen [ 38 ]; they are the most common structure in the study area. They show slight penetration into the underlying material and a typical concave profile. The origin of the load casts in the Kolankaya formation is thought to be mostly related to a reverse density gradient [ 39 ]. The gravitational readjustment leads simultaneously to a descent of the denser sediment and an ascent of the lighter sediment.

About 40 cm of material sunk into coarse-grained sand with detachment occurring in a later deformation phase The structures are formed in response to gravitational instability [ 19 ]. The resulting deformation depends upon the contrast of dynamic viscosities [ 11 , 39 ]. The force required is linked to lateral variations in the distribution of sediment load when the substrate is liquidized and loses its capacity to support overlying sediment [ 38 ].

They are rare in the study area and developed in fine to coarse-grained sands. Drop structures have a similar origin to load casts but are associated with a more advanced stage of deformation [ 11 , 38 — 41 ]. According to Alfaro et al. Flame structures are common in the study area and are generally formed in sands, muds, and marls. The structures always occur with load casts as seen in Figure 3 c. Consequently, the flame structure is developed by underlying mudstones which is injected into overlying sandstones.

Other soft-sediment deformation structures: a disturbed laminitis Flame structures owe their existence to large differences in dynamic viscosity between sediment layers [ 39 ] and are formed by fine-grained sediments behaving as diapiric intrusions [ 37 ].

Ancient Sedimentary Environments: And Their Sub-surface Diagnosis

The dikes exposed in the study area are generally developed as coarse-grained and gravelly sands intruding marls. Gravel and marl fragments are observed in the intruded sands Figures 5 a and 5 b. If there is no colour difference between sills and depositional layers this structure could be difficult to spot in the field. Clastic dikes that are seen in the study area. Clastic dikes in the study area. As a result of liquefaction, bending of the layer edges is characteristic feature of dikes.

Dikes filled with sand containing some gravel and silt are very common. While mainly sand was vented, large quantities of vented gravel also occurred commonly [ 42 ]. In both cases, deformation depends on liquefaction of the underlying sand source-beds. These structures are formed by intrusion of liquidized sands [ 12 ], interpreted as the result of liquefaction triggered by seismic shocks. The liquefaction is interpreted as resulting from water-saturated material with high pore water pressures moving upward [ 12 , 43 ].

These structures are formed by weathering of mudstone layers. Although there is no change in the thickness of layers, flexural bending observed and interpreted as forming due to resistance against ductile deformation [ 44 ]. The structures are observed in medium to coarse-grained sands but are rarely encountered in the study area.

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It is associated with load and flame structures Figure 6 b. It develops in part of a 1 meter thick unit in the succession.

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  4. The shape of the structure appears to be defining anticlinal and synclinal patterns Figure 6 b. Convolute laminations are suggested to represent complex load structure although there is controversy about the origin of such structures [ 35 , 37 , 45 ]. We relate them to hydroplastic deformation and soft-sediment intrusion as suggested by Plaziat and Ahmamou [ 46 ].

    This deformation structure occurs in fine-grained sand to gravel and is common in the study area Figure 6 c. Axes of these folds are horizontal or nearly horizontal. The structure is seen associated with load structures, convolute laminations, and synsedimentary faults Figure 6 c. The structures movement of under consolidated sediments under the influence of gravity according to Moretti and Neuwerth et al.

    The failure occurs responsible for the slump when the sediments are steepened beyond the stable angle of repose [ 37 ]. Closely spaced synsedimentary faults displace alternating coarse-grained sand beds and gray-coloured laminated marl over intervals c. According to Owen [ 1 ] and Vanneste et al. Soft-sediment deformation structures are formed by disturbances made to nonlithified, water-saturated sedimentary layers [ 37 ]. Deformation mechanisms have been investigated by many researchers [ 1 , 17 , 35 , 37 , 38 , 44 , 49 ].

    If the driving force results in reverse density then slope failure due to liquidization, slumping, or shear stresses may occur [ 41 , 49 ]. As previously mentioned [ 1 , 37 , 39 , 45 ], different driving forces can occur at the same time. Liquidization can be divided into the four types: thixotropy, sensitivity, liquefaction, and fluidization [ 1 ]. The origin of soft-sediment deformation structures occur due to these processes.

    In most cases the triggering mechanism for the deformation mechanisms is considered as an external effect such as artesian flow, groundwater fluctuations, earthquakes, storm currents, and gravity [ 1 , 2 , 7 , 35 ].

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    Deformation mechanisms and driving forces may be different for each of the different structure. There are various possible trigger mechanisms for soft-sediment deformation. The best known are 1 sediment loading [ 39 , 50 ], 2 storm currents [ 51 — 53 ], and 3 seismicity [ 5 , 7 , 12 , 14 , 16 , 35 , 54 , 55 ]. Considering 1 , the sudden excessive application of load due to irregular and rapid deposition on water-saturated sediments may constitute an affective triggering mechanism [ 2 , 55 ]. Sediment loading appears to be of minor importance in the Kolankaya Formation, since we are unable to verify such large events of sediment transportation into the basin.

    This is because the Denizli Basin is a seismically active graben [ 24 , 56 ] with the large faults that bound the Karakova horst having generated earthquakes in the past and have played important roles in strata tilting during basin development. We relate the soft-sediment deformation structures described from the Kolankaya formation to seismites, based on comparisons shapes and dimensions in the field and experimental literature [ 2 — 4 , 7 , 12 — 14 , 18 , 19 , 55 ].

    There is a close observed relationship between soft-sediment deformation structures and the earthquake magnitude [ 7 , 9 , 12 , 57 — 59 ]. It is known that the basin has been subject to large and damaging earthquakes according to historical and recent data [ 56 ]. Historical and instrumental earthquake data demonstrate that the area is seismically active Table 1. Epicenters are concentrated in the basin and these earthquakes produced by basin and boundary faults.

    Papathanassiou et al. In this study, deformation structures called seismites located along Karakova uplift which is located in middle parts of the basin and this area is close to boundary faults. It is clear that a possible earthquake in basin could produce liquefaction in the Karakova uplift.


    The Denizli Basin is a seismically active graben in the Aegean extensional province, where the Neogene Kolankaya formation is composed of clay, mud, marl, silt, sand, and gravel, deposited in a lacustrine fan delta environment. We describe for the first time soft-sediment deformation structures in coarse-grained sands, muds, marls, and pebbly sands of the formation.

    The deformation mechanisms and driving forces of these structures are compared with those known in the literature: load casts, clastic dikes and sills, disturbed laminae, convolute lamination, slump structures, and synsedimentary faults occurred due to density differences or uneven loading, injection of liquidized sands and pebbly sands, ductile deformation, gravitational instabilities associated with inverse density gradients, gravitational downslope movements, and brittle deformation, respectively.

    Regional geological data and field observations indicate that available triggering mechanism for the soft-sediment deformation structures is seismicity due to active extensional normal faulting rather than deformation related to storm activity or sediment loading. In considering prone to liquidization of sandy lithologies in the Kolankaya Formation and sizes and shapes of structures found, these structures were interpreted as a result of seismic events caused by extension of the Denizli Basin. The authors declare that there is no conflict of Interests regarding the publication of this paper.

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    Ancient Sedimentary Environments

    Received May 7; Accepted Jul 8. Topal and M. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Introduction Soft-sediment deformation structures are the result of liquefaction or fluidization in water-saturated unconsolidated sediments. Geological Setting One of the most important neotectonic areas in Turkey is the horst and graben system of the Western Anatolia.

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    Figure 1. Soft-Sediment Deformation Structures and Their Classification Classification of the soft-sediment deformation structures is based on morphological features. Figure 2. Load Casts, Drop, and Flame Structures 4.