Neoproterozoic Strata of the Northwestern United States
Published:January 01, 2007
Our studies of the Neoproterozoic Uinta Mountain Group focus on the Red Pine Shale in the western Uinta Mountains and the undivided clastic strata in the eastern Uinta Mountains, which record deltaic-marine and braided-fluvial to shoreline deposition, respectively. We conclude that the Red Pine Shale postdates the < 770 Ma eastern clastic strata, and the Uinta Mountain Group represents deposition in a rift basin predating the rift episode recorded at ~ 700 Ma in western Laurentia.
Measured sections and stratigraphic mapping of the Red Pine Shale show that it is ~ 550-1200 m thick in the western part of the range, thins to < 300 m in the east-central range, and is missing in the eastern range. Measured sections show organic-rich shale interbedded with medium- to coarse-grained sandstone. Sedimentary structures include graded bedding, hummocky cross stratification, parallel to ripple lamination, tabular crossbeds, ripple marks, and slump folds. Fossils include Bavlinella faveolata, filaments, leiosphaerid acritarchs, and, more rarely, vase-shaped microfossils and ornamented acritarchs. Preliminary whole-rock δ13Corg analysis of organic-rich shales reveal 13.9%o (PDB) variability (values range from -16.9 to -30.8%o PDB) and TOC values range from 0.07 to 5.9%. Combined data suggest deposition below and near fair-weather wave base in a marine deltaic system, and correlation with the ~ 770 to > 742 Ma Chuar Group, Grand Canyon.
The undivided clastic strata of the Uinta Mountain Group, eastern Uinta Mountains, are dominated by trough- and tabular-cross- bedded and massive sandstone showing south-southwestern paleocurrent flow. At least three laterally continuous (kilometer-scale) ~ 50-m-thick intervals of gray-green, organic-bearing shale have been mapped amongst these sandstone intervals and contain ripple marks, mud-crack casts, ripple cross laminae, and gypsum casts and molds. The lowermost shale interval allows subdivision of the clastic strata into three informal units. Fossils from shale in the middle-upper (?) interval of the clastic strata include acritarchs and possible vase-shaped microfossils. Simple sphaeromorphs and carbonaceous filaments have also been found in black to green shale near the base of the section. The clastic strata represent a sandy braid system with possible marine drowning events from the west. In addition to an alluvial-fan setting, the Jesse Ewing Canyon Formation, the basal unit of the UMG below the clastic strata, represents high-energy shoreline and fan-delta deposition.
Figures & Tables
Proterozoic Geology of Western North America and Siberia
This volume is a compendium of research on the Belt Supergroup. It is an outgrowth of Belt Symposium IV, held in Salmon, Idaho, in July, 2003, in conjunction with the Tobacco Root Geological Society annual field conference. Because of the geographic extent and great thickness of the Belt Supergroup, years of work have been required before conclusions are “bona fide”. The Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup of western Montana and adjacent areas is geologically and economically important, but it has been frustratingly hard to understand. The previous Belt Symposium volumes offer an historical view of the progress of the science of geology in the western United States. The advent of U-Pb geochronology, especially using the ion microprobe (SHRIMP) and laser-ablation ICPMS, has injected geochronometric reality into long-standing arguments about Belt stratigraphy. Several papers in this volume utilize these new tools to provide constraints on age and correlation of Belt strata (Chamberlain et al., Lewis et al., Link et al., and Doherty et al.)