The sedimentology and alluvial architecture of a large Braid Bar, Rio Parana, Argentina

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  • PJ Ashworth
  • JL Best
  • IA Lunt
  • O Orfeo
  • DR Parsons

Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper presents similar to 30 km of ground penetrating radar (GPR) data from a mid-channel bar in the sixth largest river in the world, the Rio Parana, Argentina. GPR profiles, with depth of penetration up to 12 in below the bar surface, were collected from a sandy braid bar similar to 3 km long by similar to 1 km wide on a grid with a 200 to 400 in spacing. Two facies were found to dominate the sedimentary architecture. The principal facies (similar to 83%, of total facies) comprises trough and planar cross-strata related to the migration of dunes, with the thickness of the cross-strata decreasing towards the bar surface. The second significant facies (similar to 15%) is high-angle (generally 10-20 degrees) strata that typically form by accretion at the bar margins or bartail. Clay drapes (<2%) and cross-bar channels (<1 %) are shown to constitute only a minor part of the deposits. The Rio Parana GPR surveys are compared with other GPR studies of sandy braid bars of different sizes from the South Saskatchewan, Wisconsin, and Jamuna rivers. The dominance of dune deposits is ubiquitous to all rivers, with each also possessing a significant proportion of large-scale high-angle strata. However, two differences were found to exist between the deposits of these rivers: (1) the compound-bar deposits of smaller rivers contained greater proportions of the fills of cross-bar channels, which suggests a potential role for discharge as a factor in shaping the alluvial architecture through its impact on the frequency of sediment reworking over the bar tops, and, (2) the thickness of large-scale, high-angle sets decreases with the age of the bar, which suggests that the deposits of older bars may provide more useful geometrical analogues for interpreting ancient successions, than smaller transient, or recent, bar forms that have undergone only limited modification.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-642
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Sedimentary Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009