Abstract

The Cretaceous Methow Basin of north-central Washington is the southernmost of a series of Mesozoic successor basins in the Cordillera of western North America. The Albian–Campanian(?) Virginian Ridge Formation comprises three members, newly defined here, that gradationally interfinger with each other and grade laterally and upward into overlying strata. Detailed stratigraphic analysts of the Virginian Ridge Formation and of the intimately related parts of the Winthrop and Midnight Peak formations indicates that these units represent complexly interfingering facies derived from a variety of sources, both to the west and to the east of the basin and locally within the system. This study suggests a detailed model for the history of the Upper Cretaceous Methow Basin: generation of a restricted basin with a stable, roughly north–south-trending axis, filled by a stable, east-derived fluvial and deltaic system (Winthrop Formation) interfingering with a laterally amalgamated, west-derived northward and eastward transgressive fan-delta system (Virginian Ridge Formation). The sequence grades upward into, and finally is overwhelmed by, locally derived volcanics of the Midnight Peak Formation. Similar, and in part coeval, successor basin sequences throughout the North American Cordillera may have been generated in response to similar tectonic settings.

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