Crinkle cracks in the Proterozoic Piegan Group, Belt Supergroup, Montana and Idaho: A descriptive style of sand-filled cracks hypothetically formed by subaqueous solitary-like waves

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Crinkle cracks are sand-filled cracks up to 5 mm wide in plan view that pinch at their ends. In cross section, they are canted and crinkled. They cut mudstone beds that underlie hummocky cross-laminated sandstone lenses. They are here described from the Piegan Group, Proterozoic Belt Supergroup, but they are widespread in Proterozoic and Phanerozoic marine and lacustrine rocks. However, they represent a distinctive, descriptive style of mudcracks, not attributed to inferred syneresis processes, although they have been commonly attributed to syneresis. In plan view, crinkle cracks closely resemble cracks formed where oscillatory waves striking viscous mud banks are transformed into fluid solitary-like waves that open surface cracks on their trailing limbs and close the cracks on their leading limbs as they pass through the viscous mud. Crinkle cracks preserved in rocks are hypothetically attributed to oscillatory waves moving sand over viscous mud. The oscillatory waves are transformed into solitary-like waves as they pass down into the mud, forming the cracks. The surface sand falls down into the cracks, preserving them. With burial, the water escapes, and the viscous mud compacts, crinkling the sand-filled cracks.

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Special Paper of the Geological Society of America

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