Mouth bars are the fundamental architectural elements of proximal deltaic successions. Understanding their internal architecture and complex interaction with coastal processes (fluvial, tide and wave‐dominated) is paramount to the interpretation of ancient deltaic successions. This is particularly challenging in low‐accommodation systems, because they are commonly characterized by thin, condensed and top‐truncated sections. This study analyses the exhumed Cenomanian Mesa Rica Sandstone (Dakota Group, Western Interior Seaway, USA), a fluvio‐deltaic system covering a ca 450 km depositional dip‐parallel profile. The study targets the proximal deltaic expression of the system, using 22 sedimentary logs (total of 390 m) spatially correlated within a ca 25 km2 study area at the rim of the Tucumcari Basin. Analysis of facies distributions, depositional architecture and spatial extent of stratigraphic surfaces reveals a 6–10 m thick, sharp‐based and sand‐prone deltaic package, comprising several laterally extensive (>1.4 km width) mouth bars. Composite erosional surfaces infilled with multi‐storey fluvial and marine‐influenced channel deposits (12–20 m thick, 100–250 m wide) scour locally into the deltaic package. Based on differences in sedimentary structures, bed thicknesses, occurrence of interflood beds and bioturbation indexes, four different sub‐environments within single mouth bars were distinguished. These range from mouth‐bar axis, off‐axis, fringe to distal‐fringe deposits, which reflect waning depositional energy with increasing distance from the distributary channel mouth. The interpreted mouth‐bar components also show internal variability in dominant process regime, with overall river dominance but local preservation of tide influence in the fringe and distal fringe components. Mouth‐bar deposits amalgamate to form an extensive sand‐rich sheet body throughout the study area, in which interflood mudstone to very‐fine grained sandstone beds are nearly absent. These features reflect successive coalescence of mouth bars in a low accommodation/supply (A/S) setting. These conditions promoted recurrent channel avulsion/bifurcation and thus the potential reworking of previously deposited mouth‐bar fringe and distal‐fringe sediments, where time and background processes are better recorded. Results of this study evidence internal process‐regime variability within mouth‐bar components. They also caution against the possible loss of preservation of subordinate coastal processes (e.g. tidal indicators), and consequent underestimation of the true mixed influence in low‐accommodation deltaic settings.
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