The sedimentary architecture of hyperpycnites produced by transient turbulent flows in a shallow lacustrine environment

Luxing Dou, Jim Best, Zhidong Bao, Jiagen Hou, Li Zhang, Yuming Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hyperpycnal flows are river-derived extrabasinal turbidity currents transporting both sand and clay to lacustrine, coastal, shelf and deepwater sedimentary environments. Experimental research in the past twenty years has shown that the presence of clay in sediment-laden flows promotes a transitional behavior between fully turbulent flow and a quasi-laminar plug flow regime. However, to date, most work concerning the fluid dynamic interpretation of lacustrine hyperpycnal flows has been founded on concepts based on fully turbulent flows, and relatively little is known about the influence of clay on the rheological and turbulence characteristics of these flows. With the help of 3D seismic volume and wire-line logging data, the present study undertakes a description and interpretation of subsurface mixed sandstone–mudstone bedforms observed in cores from the Upper Cretaceous Heidimiao Sandstone, Nenjiang Formation, Songliao Basin, NE China. Six lithofacies and five lithofacies associations are recognized from the cores and interpreted as formed under both turbulent and transitional flows. Typical bedforms of transitional flows include large current ripples and low-amplitude bedwaves. The delta-fed shallow lacustrine hyperpycnal flow deposits are characterized by proximal sinuous channels (extending for c. 20 km) and lobe deposits (extending for >20 km), showing a fan-like geometry associated with distributary channel extension in the down-dip direction. Basal erosion in the proximal channels is produced by the initial turbulent and turbulence-enhanced transitional flows, with channel infill dominated by upper transitional plug flows or quasi-laminar plug flows. The lobe deposits possess a fan-like geometry with large aspect ratio, and were formed from turbulence-enhanced and lower transitional plug flows. The downdip transformation of sediment-laden flows in the lacustrine basin varies from an initial turbulent flow, via quasi laminar plug flows to upper and lower transitional plug flows, to turbulence enhanced transitional flows. These transitional flows are interpreted to have experienced gradual dilution and deceleration and eventually transformed to turbulent flows in their distal regions. A new model for delta-fed shallow lacustrine hyperpycnal flow deposits is presented incorporating decelerated transitional flows and flow transformations. This new model can aid understanding of the depositional processes of lacustrine transitional flows and the facies distribution of hyperpynal flows in both modern and ancient sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105804
JournalSedimentary Geology
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Hyperpycnites
  • Lacustrine
  • Nenjiang Formation
  • Songliao Basin
  • Transitional flow
  • Turbulence modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


Dive into the research topics of 'The sedimentary architecture of hyperpycnites produced by transient turbulent flows in a shallow lacustrine environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this