Compound paleovalley fills in the Lower Pennsylvanian New River Formation, West Virginia, USA

Jesse T. Korus, Erik P. Kvale, Kenneth A. Eriksson, R. M. Joeckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Ancient paleovalley fills are typically interpreted in the rock record using over-generalized models without carefully considering modern analogs, especially in light of recent discoveries. It is now known that many Quaternary paleovalleys are compound in origin, exhibit considerable stratigraphic complexity, contain multiple incisions, and can be orders of magnitude larger than their putative ancient counterparts. Compound paleovalley fills in the Lower Pennsylvanian New River Formation (NRF) are directly comparable to these Quaternary analogs, stimulating a paradigm shift in the interpretation of ancient paleovalleys. In the NRF, multiple laterally- and vertically-juxtaposed fill successions, separated by incision surfaces, record high-frequency fluvial responses to external controls within lower-order sequences. Lowstand incision and sediment bypass, as predicted in sequence stratigraphy, is largely discounted by the available evidence and the definition of regional sequence boundaries is not straightforward. The identification of genetic sequences may be the most effective approach to understanding the NRF and, by inference, many other ancient paleovalleys. Results from this study of the NRF promote a revised model for ancient paleovalleys that incorporates: 1) the pre-eminence of compound architecture, 2) periodic episodes of incision and subaerial exposure occurring in response to high-frequency changes in climate or relative sea level, 3) fluvial downcutting as the primary cause of paleovalley incision, although some sediments are still preserved in a net-erosional regime, and 4) composite, time-transgressive sequence boundaries that may be difficult or impossible to correlate regionally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 20 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Incised valley-fills
  • New River Formation
  • Paleovalleys
  • Sequence boundaries
  • Sequence stratigraphy
  • West Virginia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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