Initiation and early evolution of a forearc basin: Georgia Basin, Canada
B.A.P. Kent, S.E. Dashtgard, C. Huang, J.A. MacEachern, H.D. Gibson and G. Cathyl‐Huhn
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 32, No 1, February 2020 pp. 163 - 185
Info: Article, PDF ( 3.08Mb )
The lower Nanaimo Group was deposited in the (forearc) Georgia Basin, Canada and records the basin’s initiation and early depositional evolution. Nanaimo Group strata are subdivided into 11 lithostratigraphic units, which are identified based on lithology, paleontology, texture and position relative to both the basal nonconformity and to each other. Significant topography on the basal nonconformity, however, has resulted in assignment of lithostratigraphic units that are not time correlative, and hence, cannot reliably be used to accurately reconstruct basin evolution. Herein, we present a sequence stratigraphic framework for lower Nanaimo Group strata in the Comox Sub‐Basin (northern Georgia Basin) that integrates both facies analysis and maximum depositional ages (MDAs) derived from detrital zircon. This stratigraphic framework is used to define significant sub‐basin‐wide surfaces that bound depositional units and record the evolution of the basin during its early stages of development. Seven distinct depositional phases are identified in the lower 700 m of the lower Nanaimo Group. Depositional phases are separated by marine flooding surfaces, regressive surfaces, or disconformities. The overall stratigraphy reflects net transgression manifested as an upwards transition from braided fluvial conglomerates to marine mudstones. Transgression was interrupted by periods of shoreline progradation, and both facies analysis and MDAs reveal a disconformity in the lowermost part of the Nanaimo Group in the Comox Sub‐Basin. Stratigraphic reconstruction of the Comox Sub‐Basin reveals two dominant depocenters (along depositional strike) for coarse clastics (sandstones and conglomerates) during early development of the Georgia Basin. The development and position of these depocenters is attributed to subduction/tectonism driving both subsidence in the north‐northwest and uplift in the central Comox Sub‐Basin. Our work confirms that in its earliest stages of development, the Georgia Basin evolved from an underfilled, ridged forearc basin that experienced slow and stepwise drowning to a shoal‐water ridged forearc basin that experienced rapid subsidence. We also propose that the Georgia Basin is a reasonable analogue for ridged forearc basins globally, as many ridged forearcs record similar depositional histories during their early evolution.