Reports

Mechanics of Wind Ripple Stratigraphy

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Science  06 Mar 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5049, pp. 1240-1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.255.5049.1240

Abstract

Stratigraphic patterns preserved under translating surface undulations or ripples in a depositional eolian environment are computed on a grain by grain basis using physically based cellular automata models. The spontaneous appearance, growth, and motion of the simulated ripples correspond in many respects to the behavior of natural ripples. The simulations show that climbing strata can be produced by impact alone; direct action of fluid shear is unnecessary. The model provides a means for evaluating the connection between mechanical processes occurring in the paleoenvironment during deposition and the resulting stratigraphy preserved in the geologic column: vertical compression of small laminae above a planar surface indicates nascent ripple growth; supercritical laminae are associated with unusually intense deposition episodes; and a plane erosion surface separating sets of well-developed laminae is consistent with continued migration of mature ripples during a hiatus in deposition.