Sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Lower Silurian Grimsby formation, in subsurface, Lake Erie and Southwestern Ontario
Benincasa, Anthony Joseph.
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Since the first offshore Lake Erie well was drilled in 1941, the Grimsby and Thorold formations of the Cataract Group have been economically important to the oil and gas industry of Ontario. The Cataract Group provides a significant amount of Ontario's gas production primarily from wells located on Lake Erie. The Grimsby - Thorold formations are the result of nearshore estuarine processes influenced by tides on a prograding shelf and are composed of subtidal channel complexes, discrete tidal channels, mud flats and non-marine deposits. Deposition was related to a regressive - transgressive cycle associated with eustatic sea level changes caused by the melting and resurgence of continental glaciation centred in Africa in the Late Ordovician/Early Silurian. Grimsby deposition began during a regression with the deposition of subtidal channel complexes incised into the marine deposits of the Cabot Head Formation. The presence of mud drapes and mud couplets suggest that these deposits were influenced by tides. These deposits dominate the lower half of the Grimsby. Deposition continued with a change from these subtidal channel complexes to laterally migrating, discrete, shallow tidal channels and mud flats. These were in turn overlain by the non-marine deposits of the Thorold Formation. Grimsby - Thorold deposition ended with a major transgression replacing siliciclastic deposition with primarily carbonate deposition. Sediment was sourced from the east and southeast and associated with a continuation of the Taconic Orogeny into the Early Silurian. The fluvial head of the estuary prograded from a shoreline that was located in western New York and western Pennsylvania running NNE-SSW and then turning NW-SE and paralleling the present day Lake Erie shoreline. iii The facies attributed to the Grimsby - Thorold formations can be ascribed to the three zones within the tripartite zonation suggested by Dalrymple et ale (1992) for estuaries, that is, a marine-dominated facies, a mixed energy facies, and a facies that is dominated by fluvial processes. Also, sediments within the Grimsby - Thorold are commonly fining upwards sequences which are common in estuarine settings whereas deltaic deposits are normally composed of coarsening upwards sequences in a vertical wedge shape with coarser material near the head. The only coarsening observed was in the Thorold Formation and attributed to non-marine deposition by palynological evidence. The presence of a lag deposit at the base of the sediments of the Grimsby Thorold formations suggests that they were incised into the Cabot Head Formation. Further, the thickness of Early Silurian sediments located between the top of the Queenston Formation, where Early Silurian sedimentation began, to the top of the Reynales - Irondequoit formation are constant whether the Grimsby - Thorold formations are present or not. Also, cross-sections using a sand body located in the Cabot Head Formation for correlation further imply that the Grimsby Formation has been incised into the previous deposits of the Cabot Head.