Internal architecture of a till sheet, Tiskilwa Formation, north-central Illinois, USA: Application of architectural element analysis

Jessica M. Slomka, Carolyn H. Eyles, Riley P. M. Mulligan, E. Donald McKay III, Richard C. Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thick till sheets deposited during the Quaternary form significant aquitards in many areas of North America. However, the detailed sedimentary heterogeneity and architecture and depositional history of till units are not well understood. This study utilizes architectural element analysis to delineate the internal sedimentary architecture of the Tiskilwa Formation exposed at two outcrop sections in north-central Illinois, USA. Architectural element analysis facilitates systematic delineation of sedimentary architecture based on the nature of facies contacts and change in facies associations, delineation of unit geometries and understanding of depositional processes at different scales of resolution; making architectural element analysis suitable for the sedimentological analysis and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of subglacial deposits. Eleven facies types are identified in this study, including sand, gravel and diamict facies that record a suite of subglacial depositional processes. Detailed analysis of facies contacts (bounding surface hierarchy) and change in facies associations allows the delineation of five architectural elements, including coarse-grained lens, coarse-grained sheet, mixed zone, diamict lens and diamict sheet elements. The spatial arrangement and genetic interpretation of elements, and their spatial relationship with fifth-order bounding surfaces, allows the delineation of five larger scale architectural units (‘element associations’), which can be mapped in the local study area and record at least three stacked successions of meltwater accumulation and till deposition. The results of this study can be utilized for architectural analysis of till sheets and provide insight to groundwater flow pathways through till in the study area and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1328--1359
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015


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