Recent re-emphasis on large scale fan-shaped fluvial systems has motivated ongoing debate over the relative importance of basin-axial trunk river and distributive fluvial system (DFS) models in explaining stratigraphic patterns of ancient fluvial deposits, and how responses to changing accommodation, sediment supply (rate and caliber) and lobe switching are expressed in the stratigraphic record and deviate from idealized models. Assessment of the validity of these conceptual models at outcrop requires excellent exposures that spatially continuous in three dimensions. To explore these conceptual models, Gulliford et al. examine the hierarchy of architectural elements, stories, channel belts, channel-belt complexes, and sequences in outstanding outcrops of the Permo-Triassic Beaufort Group, South Africa. The data provide means to interpret river and floodplain processes, and are most consistent with a distributive fluvial system model.
Testing applicability of models of distributive fluvial systems or trunk rivers in ephemeral systems: reconstructing 3-D fluvial architecture in the Beaufort Group, South Africa by Alice R. Gulliford, Stephen S. Flint, and David M. Hodgson