Abstract

Late Campanian to Early Paleocene sandstones of the Alberta Foothills were derived from three types of rocks: (i) andesitic–dacitic volcanic rocks that were presumably comagmatic with middle to late Mesozoic plutons in the Omineca Crystalline Belt; (ii) low-grade metamorphic rocks in the suprastructure of the Omineca Crystalline Belt; and (iii) sedimentary rocks in die Rocky Mountain Thrust Belt, principally pelitic rocks in the western Main Ranges and carbonates and chert-arenites in the eastern Main and Front ranges. A paucity of quartzo-feldspathic rocks fragments and potassium feldspar indicates that the core of the Omineca Crystalline Belt was not extensively exposed at that time.Vertical trends in composition of the sandstones reveal five petrographic stages. Stage I is dominated by volcanic rock fragments and plagioclase, suggesting that initial progradation of the sediment was largely a response to coeval volcanism or tectonic emplacement of older volcanic rocks. Stages III and V are characterized by a significant decrease in the relative proportion of metamorphic detritus and an increase in the proportion of carbonate and chert detritus. These stages may represent periods of thrusting in the eastern Main Ranges or Front Ranges. In contrast, stages II and IV display increases in metamorphic detritus and stage II shows a concomitant decrease in carbonate and chert detritus, trends that indicate wearing down of the eastern Main Ranges or Front Ranges thrust sheet(s) and reintegration of the Omineca Crystalline belt and the western Main Ranges into the drainage basin. The compositional stages indicative of thrust events are associated with coarse facies, including the Entrance and High Divide Ridge conglomerates, whereas those stages indicative of tectonic quiescence are associated with fine-grained facies including coal.

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