V. Paul Wright

Cardiff University, Cardiff, WLS, United Kingdom

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Publications (32)53.4 Total impact

  • L. Cherns, V. P. Wright
    Geological Society of London Special Publications. 01/2011; 358(1):9-17.
  • Source
    Journal of Sedimentary Research - J SEDIMENT RES. 01/2011;
  • Lesley Cherns, James R. Wheeley, V. Paul Wright
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    ABSTRACT: Early diagenetic dissolution of skeletal carbonate in environments from seafloor to shallow burial has the potential to skew the marine fossil record of aragonitic shells, particularly molluscs. Taphonomic windows leading to the preservation of labile skeletal components include relatively rare occurrences of early mineral replacement by silica (skeletal lagerstätten). Another, much more frequent process is event deposition where dissolution is halted by rapid burial of shells. Shell plasters form in basinal mud or low energy lagoonal environments during temporary dysoxic episodes, such as are caused by algal blooms. Preservation potential for aragonitic fossils may be enhanced by early cementation during shallow burial (hardgrounds) that protects the delicate dissolution moulds from destruction by bioturbation, or in high energy shoal environments where the drive for microbial dissolution is reduced. A data-based environmental model summarizes the main taphonomic zones, and illustrates significant taphonomic bias against aragonitic shells in lower energy settings of platform interiors and mid-outer ramps/shelves. The temporal distribution of various taphonomic windows shows the limited occurrence of silicified faunas, while the nature and extent of shell beds also change, but there is no obvious correlation with periods of ‘calcite’ and ‘aragonite seas’.
    11/2010: pages 79-105;
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    ABSTRACT: As much as 80% of the 4.5-km-thick succession of alluvial sediments of late Silurian to early Devonian age in South Wales is composed of mudstone, generally regarded as overbank suspension deposits. Studies of selected formations reveal a variety of lithofacies associations in these mud-dominated intervals, which suggest diverse mechanisms for mud emplacement. For example, there are distinct fining upward units, 2.5–5 m thick, that represent ephemeral channel-zone deposits in which extensive reworking of palaeo-Vertisols took place as clay pellet bedload material. The overall depositional system has many similarities with that described from the Channel Country of central Australia, where anastomosing fluvial systems are associated with distal mud sheetflood deposits. The exact channel planforms for the Old Red Sandstone systems, however, cannot be readily determined, although where larger channel sandbodies exist they have a sheet-like occurrence with a high width/depth ratio, and possibly may be the result of large-scale, low-frequency sheet-flood events. The development of palaeosols with vertic features, calcretes, alternations of desiccation and burrowing in the channel deposits suggests marked seasonality with a flashy regime. The Channel Country represents a fairly stable low-relief cratonic interior, whereas the Old Red Sandstone in South Wales was deposited on a coastal-plain in a subsiding basin setting. There are, however, similarities in terms of depositional products despite the disparity in morpho-tectonic setting, which may reflect extremely low gradients and climatic influences such as frequency and magnitude of flood events.
    Fluvial Sedimentology VII, 03/2009: pages 517 - 529; , ISBN: 9781444304350
    Palaios 01/2009; 24(11):756-771. · 1.79 Impact Factor
  • P. M. Burgess, V. P. Wright, D. Emery
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms responsible for formation of peritidal parasequences have been a focus of debate between proponents of contrasting autocyclic and allocyclic models. To contribute to this debate a three-dimensional numerical forward model of carbonate production, transport and deposition has been developed. Shallowing-upward parasequences are produced in the model via carbonate island formation and progradation, with an element of self-organization, and no external forcing. These autocyclic parasequences have characteristics comparable with peritidal parasequences observed in outcrop. Modelled parasequence thickness and duration depend primarily on subsidence rate and sediment transport rate, illustrating the significance of sediment flux in formation of peritidal parasequences. Adding an element of stochastic variation of sediment transport rate and transport path leads to formation of nonuniform-thickness parasequences that generate Fischer plots showing apparent hierarchies similar to those often interpreted as evidence of eustatic forcing. The model results do not rule out allocylic mechanisms, but suggest that shoreline and island progradation are also plausible mechanisms to create variable-thickness, shallowing-upward peritidal parasequences and should be considered in interpretations of such strata.
    Basin Research 10/2008; 13(1):1 - 16. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Study of four closely-spaced El Garia Formation reservoirs (offshore Tunisia) has identified diagenetic controls on variation in reservoir quality. The Ashtart, Didon and Zarat Fields have been affected by significant dissolution porosity, which occurred during burial diagenesis, with vuggy pores preferentially forming in micritic sediment. However, inter-crystalline porosity due to dolomitisation is the principal control on reservoir quality in the Hasdrubal Field. This spatial variation in porosity type reflects, to some extent, the structural and sedimentological isolation of Hasdrubal within the facies trend, surrounded by deep water embayments and, unlike the other studied fields, not directly underlain by salt diapirs.Burial corrosion appears to have formed where mid to outer ramp, mud-rich El Garia Formation facies directly overlie salt domes, a consequence of the circulation of aggressive fluids related to increased heat flow above the salt. Inorganic CO2, focused into the reservoir prior to hydrocarbon emplacement by faults related to salt movement, is the most likely candidate responsible for the burial dissolution porosity observed in the Ashtart, Didon and Zarat fields. A salt diapir does underlie the most basinward (north-east) margin of Hasdrubal, and minor dissolution porosity is present, but we conclude that the absence of significant dissolution in Hasdrubal is due to its offset position, away from the highly faulted roof zone immediately above the salt. Although we favour this model, we cannot rule out that the absence of dissolution porosity in Hasdrubal may reflect the early emplacement of hydrocarbons from an older (non-Bou Dabbous Formation) source, or differences in the timing of salt movement and consequent fault creation below Hasdrubal compared to the other fields, local temperature and/or acid concentration effects, or a different source of CO2. Differences in the distribution of dissolution porosity in the Ashtart, Didon and Zarat Fields may be related to the presence of intra-reservoir permeability barriers, due to increased nummulithoclastic (= fragmented Nummulites) content. This may also explain the strata-bound nature of the dolomite in Hasdrubal, which, like the dissolution porosity in Ashtart, is overlain by sediments with an increased nummulithoclastic content. Although dolomite is present in variable quantities in all of the studied fields, the significant volume of dolomite in Hasdrubal may reflect a local ‘plumbing’ effect, with dolomitising fluids entering the reservoir via a fault network that does not affect the other fields.
    Sedimentary Geology 09/2008; · 1.80 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Lesley Cherns, James R. Wheeley, V. Paul Wright
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies on silicified fossil biotas have suggested that substantial skewing of the molluscan record resulted from early aragonite dissolution in mid-outer carbonate ramp settings. If those rare skeletal lagerstätten are representative, then the quality and completeness of the molluscan record are thrown into doubt. Yet database studies suggest that the bivalve fossil record is actually relatively complete. If so, then biodiversity must be captured by other processes that preserved shells vulnerable to early dissolution, and which operated on a relatively high frequency, i.e., less than the species duration for bivalves.Storm beds, shell plasters and submarine hardgrounds are identified as fossil deposits that can preserve the labile aragonitic component of the fauna and thus represent potential taphonomic windows. Many storm event beds include rich accumulations of shelly benthos. Differences between storm bed faunas and those of the background facies could reflect transportation effects. However, some storm bed assemblages are rich in originally aragonitic infaunal bivalves that are not represented in background facies or more proximal shelf equivalents, and here rapid burial and removal of organic matter by winnowing may be the keys to aragonite shell preservation. Despite Palaeozoic to Cenozoic changes in the thickness and frequency of shell beds that reflect the predominant bioclast producers, shallow infaunas are commonly concentrated together with epifauna in such deposits.Some low energy, organic-rich mud-dominated settings are associated with preservation of aragonitic molluscs. Infaunal bivalves are a prominent component of shell plasters or pavements in such settings, linked to episodic bottom water anoxia. Decaying algal blooms drew the redox boundary up above the sediment–water interface, and brought populations of infaunal bivalves to the surface where they died. Isolated from the oxic taphonomically active zone, the shells were not dissolved and were buried as thin shell layers. In similar settings, aragonitic shells were preserved as moulds through early pyritisation, or even through preservation of original shell aragonite.In oxic environments, bioturbational reworking of surface sediment destroyed moulds of aragonitic shells after early dissolution. In some hardgrounds, these delicate moulds were preserved due to synsedimentary cementation, probably using carbonate released by aragonite dissolution. The examples included here come from both intervals of “calcite” and “aragonite” seas, and it is not possible to assess whether the saturation state (with respect to aragonite) of the ambient sea water played a role in the selective removal of aragonitic shells.While taphonomic windows may have captured the diversity of individual groups, it is clear from quantitative data involving skeletal lagerstätten that the scale of loss from early aragonite dissolution has drastically altered the trophic composition of some fossil assemblages commonly used as the basis for reconstructions of past communities.
    Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 01/2008; · 2.75 Impact Factor
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    James R. Wheeley, Lesley Cherns, V. Paul Wright
    Journal of the Geological Society 01/2008; 165:395-403. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Early Devonian Conigar Pit Sandstone Member (CPSM) of the Freshwater West Formation (Lower Old Red Sandstone, Lochkovian age) at Freshwater West in south Wales comprises a heterolithic, predominantly alluvial suite (mudstones, fine to coarse-grained sandstones, conglomerates) with varying depositional architecture. A number of discrete facies associations are observed. The fine-grained, inclined- and non-inclined heterolithic association is dominant within the CPSM. It represents dryland sinuous channelized flow (IHS bedsets) and unconfined flow (non-inclined bedsets) at terminal and intermediate floodouts deposited under semi-arid conditions. Mudstones were deposited in two distinct environments associated with this semi-arid river system. Laminated and burrowed, reddish brown mudstones were deposited in shallow semi-permanent lakes or pools on the floodplain. Massive mudstones were deposited as within-channel muddy braid-bars, with sedimentary structures being lost during subsequent compaction. The mudstones exhibit Vertisol pedogenesis reflecting the seasonal wetting and drying associated with the semi-arid climate. Periods of intense desiccation are indicated by deep desiccation cracks and associated rubbly surfaces. Possible, though unproven tidal conditions influenced a small percentage of the heterolithic channels at Freshwater West. The extent of these channels is uncertain. The coarser-grained multi-storey sandstone association was deposited by low-sinuosity rivers with a fluctuating, but perennial discharge. Associated with these laterally extensive sandbodies was a high water table with surface ponding (wetlands) that enabled the preservation of plant detritus. During high discharge events, flow expanded over the contemporaneous floodplain depositing the sheet sandstone association within splay complexes. The interpretation that perennial discharge may have been triggered by basin-wide climate change challenges the long-held view that the Lower ORS climate was continuously semi-arid in nature. The spatial/temporal extent of this climate change is uncertain, as it is possible that the multi-storey sandbodies were deposited by allogenic rivers draining a distant, possibly uplifted source area. A decrease in the observed frequency and maturity of Vertisol profiles, and a corresponding increase in multi-storey sandbodies upward through the succession may reflect a long-term, episodic pattern of climate change.
    Sedimentary Geology 11/2007; 202:35-57. · 1.80 Impact Factor
  • V. Paul Wright
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    ABSTRACT: Needle-fibre calcite occurs in association with root structures in a Lower Carboniferous calcrete crust. The origin of this form of calcite is discussed and the scattered literature from soil science, microbiology and geology is reviewed. It is concluded that while needle-fibre calcite is not diagnostic of any environment its origin is related to the activities of various micro-organisms, especially fungi. The use of needle-fibre calcite as a climatic indicator is reviewed and it is used, with other criteria, as evidence of fluctuating climates in the Lower Carboniferous.
    Geological Journal 04/2007; 19(1):23 - 32. · 1.66 Impact Factor
  • V. Paul Wright, Susan B. Marriott
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    ABSTRACT: Mudrocks are a prominent feature of many ancient dryland successions but they are not always a product of the settling out of suspension load. From studies of the late Silurian–early Devonian Old Red Sandstone mudrocks of South Wales it has been shown that many were not overbank sediments deposited from suspension on floodplains, but were emplaced as sand- and silt-sized aggregates transported as bed load and deposited in sinuous channels and as braid-bar complexes on multi-stage floodplains in dryland river systems. Using the Old Red Sandstone examples criteria are provided for the recognition of similar deposits in the sedimentary record. One important aspect of these mudrocks is that they can represent multiple recycling events and can constitute condensed deposits that may be characteristic of closed alluvial basins with periodically limited sediment supply.
    Sedimentary Geology 02/2007; · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An extensive palaeokarst porosity system, developed during a pronounced mid-Paleocene third-order lowstand of sea level, is hosted in Danian limestones of the Urbasa–Andia plateau in north Spain. These limestones were deposited on a 40–50 km wide rimmed shelf with a margin characterised by coralgal buildups and coarse-grained bioclastic accumulations. The sea-level fall that caused karstification was of approximately 80–90 m magnitude and 2.5 Ma in duration. During the exposure, a 450 m wide belt of sub-vertical margin-parallel fractures developed a few hundred metres inboard of the shelf edge. Most fractures are 90–100 m deep, average 1 m in width, and are associated with large erosional features created by collapse of the reefal margin. Inland from the fracture belt, three superimposed laterally extensive cave systems were formed over a distance of 3.5 km perpendicular to shelf edge, at depths ranging from 8–31 m below the exposure surface. The palaeocaves range from 0.3 to 2 m in height, average 1.5 m high. They show no evidence of meteoric processes and are filled with Thanetian grainstones rich in reworked Microcodium, a lithology that also occurs infilling the fractures. The caves are interpreted as due to active corrosion at the saline water–fresh-water mixing zone. Caves are missing from the shelf edge zone probably because the fractures beheaded the meteoroic lens preventing mixing-zone cave development beyond the fracture zone. Towards the platform interior, each cave system passes into a prominent horizon, averaging 1 m in thickness, of spongy porosity with crystal silt infills and red Fe-oxide coatings. The spongy horizons can be traced for 5.5 km inboard from the cave zone and occur at 10.5 m, 25 m and 32 m below the exposure surface. In the inland zone, two additional horizons with the same spongy dissolution have been recognised at depths of 50 m and 95 m. All are analogous to Swiss-cheese mixing-zone corrosion in modern carbonate aquifers and probably owe their origins to microbially-mediated dissolution effects associated with a zone of reduced circulation in marine phreatic water. In the most landward sections a number of collapse breccia zones are identified, but their origin is unclear. The palaeokarst system as a whole formed during the pulsed rise that followed the initial sea-level drop, with the three main cave-spongy zones representing three successive sea-level stillstands, recorded by stacked parasequences infilling large erosional scallops along the shelf margin. The geometry of the palaeo-mixing zones indicates a low discharge system, and together with the lack of meteoric karstic features favours a semi-arid to arid climatic regime, which is further supported by extensive calcrete-bearing palaeosols occurring in coeval continental deposits.
    Sedimentary Geology. 01/2007;
  • V. Paul Wright
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    ABSTRACT: Palaeosols may be modified in a variety of ways during burial diagenesis but significant alteration can take place during the earliest phases of burial caused by rising groundwaters. A calcrete palaeosol, the Heatherslade Geosol, from the Lower Carboniferous of South Wales, contains abundant pyrite which overprinted the original soil fabrics. The pyrite is interpreted as the product of anaerobic conditions caused by drowning during the early stages of a marine transgression. Unusual diamond-shaped forms of pyrite occur which possibly represent pseudomorphs after gypsum.
    Geological Journal 12/2006; 21(2):139 - 149. · 1.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The basal Upper Jurassic unconformity in the Lusitanian Basin of Portugal commonly exhibits an irregular palaeokarstic surface developed in underlying Middle Jurassic carbonates. In the Serra da Arrabida area south of Lisbon, wire cut quarry faces expose a thick Upper Jurassic paleosol complex overlying fissured and brecciated limestone veneered with a calcrete crust and associated with colluvial deposits. The paleosol complex is a red mudstone with calcrete stringers which superficially resembles present-day red Mediterranean Terra Rossa soils. A detailed micromorphological study indicates the absence of any clay illuviation in the paleosol unit, which suggests that it is not comparable to the true Terra Rossa Alfisols, but more closely resembles present-day Aridisols. This difference from true Terra Rossa soils probably reflects formation under a drier climate, which is confirmed by the occurrence elsewhere in Portugal of evaporitic lake deposits of the same age. The paper stresses the role of soil petrography (micromorphology) in interpreting pedogenesis in paleosols.
    Sedimentology 06/2006; 34(2):259 - 273. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT A thin calcrete-crust horizon from the Lower Carboniferous Llanelly Formation of South Wales consists of two parts; an upper laminated unit and a lower peloidal unit. The former is interpreted as a subaerial stromatolite and the latter as an A horizon of a palaeosol. Comparisons are made with the A horizons of rendzinas and it is concluded that the calcrete-crust represents a complete rendzina profile. This fossil rendzina contains abundant evidence of a soil fauna in the form of fecal pellets and small burrows.
    Sedimentology 06/2006; 30(2):159 - 179. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Carboniferous speleothem calcites in un-metamorphosed limestones from South Wales exhibit crystal diminution (degrading neomorphism) textures. These textures result from processes which have been considered only important under metamorphic conditions. The textures are interpreted as the result of recrystallization associated with dislocation processes. These processes relate to low temperature creep associated with low strain rates extended over long periods of time. The textures described here occur in unusually large crystals but similar textures have been described in limestones from deep boreholes. Dislocation processes, recovery and recrystallization are likely to be important processes operating during deep burial diagenesis.
    Sedimentology 06/2006; 30(4):537 - 546. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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  • V. Paul Wright, Ana C. Azerêdo
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    ABSTRACT: Stratigraphic variability in peritidal carbonates is generally interpreted in terms of sea-level changes, but little consideration is given to the effects of vegetation and of how long-term changes in macrophyte evolution have affected carbonate sedimentation in such settings. Many present day low energy tropical carbonate shorelines are dominated by macrophyte vegetation. Although several pre-Jurassic macrophytes have been interpreted to have lived in brackish-water zones, records of macrophyte-dominated carbonate shorelines in the stratigraphic record are apparently rare or even absent, which thus is an enigma. We use Upper Jurassic platform interior carbonates from central Portugal to emphasize these issues; these successions contain both classical tidal flat-bearing cyclothems and ones capped by marsh facies with evidence of macrophytes, the former having developed in more restricted settings. Although these late Jurassic shorelines were not affected by true mangroves, we propose that tidal flat deposits were not developed because the shorelines, at least locally, were dominated by macrophytes. We speculate that the paucity of classical tidal flat-bearing peritidal cyclothems in the Cainozoic may have been due, at least partially, to the spread of major macrophyte-dominated mangrove communities during the Paleogene.
    Sedimentary Geology 01/2006; 186:147-156. · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Larger benthic foraminifera Nummulites are common within Eocene, circum-Tethyan limestones. Despite their importance as sediment producers, contradictions in the literature constrain current understanding about the location of the Nummulites‘factory’. The El Garia Fm was deposited on a ramp with localized palaeohighs, and whilst some authors suggested that the locus of Nummulites production was in shallow water across the palaeohighs, others concluded that production was significantly reduced over these palaeohighs, and concentrated in the surrounding deeper (30–60 m) water. There are also marked dissimilarities between recent models in terms of the continuity, correlation and resolution of depositional sequences. To assess these models, we integrate studies of the architecture and geometry of the El Garia Fm with detailed taphonomic, biometric, biofabric and palaeoecological characterization of Nummulites tests. We conclude that the highest rates of sediment production occurred in euphotic water over the palaeohighs and in nearshore environments. Nummulites on the palaeohighs were transported into the surrounding deeper water by oceanic and storm currents that swept the platform top, producing a nummulitic sediment package that thickened and became increasingly fine-grained and fragmented into outer ramp environments. This transport exerted a major control on development of the ramp-like geometries often seen at outcrop. Our findings question the validity of a recent sequence stratigraphic model that identifies decimetre-scale Milankovitch cycles, even in largely allochthonous, ‘bio-retextured’, mid/outer ramp sediments. Our findings also suggest that the thin packages of El Garia Fm on the palaeohighs, which have previously been interpreted as condensed sections that can be correlated with thicker, more distal accumulations, actually represent remnants of the sediment that was produced on the highs and ‘exported’ into the basin.
    Sedimentology 05/2005; 52(3):537 - 569. · 2.30 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

418 Citations
53.40 Total Impact Points


  • 2001–2009
    • Cardiff University
      • Department of Earth Sciences
      Cardiff, WLS, United Kingdom
  • 2006–2007
    • Milton Keynes College
      Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom
    • University of Bristol
      Bristol, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002–2007
    • University of Wales
      Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom