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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography


Rivers transport sediments in a source to sink system while responding to allogenic controls of the depositional system. Stacked fluvial sandstones of the Middle Pennsylvanian (Desmoinesian Stage, ∼310–306 Ma) Allegheny Formation (MPAF) exposed at Birch River, West Virginia exhibit change in sedimentary structure and depositional style, reflecting changes in allogenic behavior. Paleohydrologic and numerical analysis were used to quantify geomorphological and paleohydrologic variations reflected by MPAF fluvial deposits with the goal of understanding the controls on resulting fluvial sandstone architecture in these different systems. Channel body geometry, sedimentary structures, and sandstone grain size distribution were used to reconstruct the paleoslope and flow velocity of the MPAF fluvial systems. In order to enhance paleohydrological estimates, machine learning methods including multiple regression and support vector regression (SVR) algorithms were used to improve the dune height, and channel depth estimated from cross-set thickness. Results show that the channel depths of the lower MPAF beneath the Lower Kittanning coal beds tend to decrease upsection; this decrease is interpreted to reflect a transition from fluvial systems formed in a humid ever-wet climate to fluvial systems formed in less humid, seasonally wet, semi-arid climate. Paleohydrologic estimations enabled the evaluation of hydraulic changes in the fluvial depositional systems of the Appalachian Basin during the Desmoinesian stage. Paleoslope estimates indicated that the slope was low, which indicated that the fluvial gradient response was not driven by the effect of tectonic subsidence or uplift and sea-level change.

Source Citation

Abatan O and Weislogel A (2020) Paleohydrology and Machine-Assisted Estimation of Paleogeomorphology of Fluvial Channels of the Lower Middle Pennsylvanian Allegheny Formation, Birch River, WV. Front. Earth Sci. 7:361. doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00361


Copyright © 2020 Abatan and Weislogel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

This article received support from the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.

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