SHORELINE DEPOSITS AND DIAGENESIS RESULTING FROM 2 LATE PLEISTOCENE HIGHSTANDS NEAR +5 AND +6 METERS, DURBAN, SOUTH-AFRICA

Andrew Cooper, RM Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In exposures of Pleistocene rocks on the east coast of South Africa, eight sedimentary facies were distinguished on the basis of petrology, grain size, internal structures and field relationships. These are interpreted as deposits of surf zone, breaker zone, swash zone, backbeach, boulder beach and dune environments. Three phases of deposition and diagenesis are recognized. As a result of the stabilising effect of pre-existing coastal facies, the deposits from successive sea level stands are stacked vertically in a narrow coast-normal strip. Early cementation prevented erosion of the deposits during subsequent transgressions. Deposition of subsequent facies took place on an existing coastal dune (Facies 1). A terrace was cut into this dune at a sea level 4.5 to 5 m above present. At this sea level, clastic shoreline sediments were deposited which make up the main sedimentary sequence exposed (Facies 2-7). The steep swash zone, coarse grain size, and comparison with modern conditions in the study area indicate clastic deposition on a high-energy, wave-dominated, microtidal coastline. Vertical stacking of progressively shallower water facies indicates progradation associated with slightly regressive conditions, prior to stranding of the succession above sea level. During a subsequent transgression to 5.5 or 6 m above present sea level, a second terrace was cut across the existing facies, which by then were partly lithified. A boulder beach (Facies 8) deposited on this terrace is indicative of high wave energy and a rocky coastline, formed by existing cemented coastal facies. Comparison with dated deposits from other parts of the South African coast suggest a Late Pleistocene age for Facies 2-8. Deposition was terminated by subsequent regression and continuing low sea levels during the remainder of the Pleistocene. Cementation of the facies took place almost entirely by carbonate precipitation. The presence of isopachous fibrous cements suggests early cementation of Facies 1, 2, 3 and 4 under marine conditions, initially as aragonite which has since inverted to calcite. Facies 5, 6 and 7 are cemented only by equant calcite spar, evidence of cementation in the meteoric phreatic and vadose zones. Lowering of the water table during regression caused the remaining pore space in Facies 1, 2, 3 and 4 to be filled with equant calcite spar. Decementation in a 130 cm wide zone is attributed to water table shifts associated with the later transgression which deposited Facies 8. The vertical stacking of the two depositional sequences may be attributed to rapid cementation of Facies 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 under humid, subtropical conditions. This lithified sequence then acted as a focus for deposition of coarse-grained shoreline facies (Facies 8) during the subsequent transgression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-343
JournalMarine Geology
Volume97
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1991

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