New sensitive high resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U–Pb zircon analyses from two tuffs and a felsic flow in the middle and upper Belt Supergroup of northwestern Montana significantly refine the age of sedimentation for this very thick (15–20 km) Middle Proterozoic stratigraphic sequence. In ascending stratigraphic order, the results are (1) 1454 ± 9 Ma for a tuff in the upper part of the Helena Formation at Logan Pass, Glacier National Park; (2) 1443 ± 7 Ma for a regionally restricted porphyritic rhyolite to quartz latite flow of the Purcell Lava in the Yaak River region; and (3) 1401 ± 6 Ma for a tuff in the very thin transition zone between the Bonner Quartzite and Libby Formation, west of the town of Libby. Combining these ages with those previously published by other workers for ca. 1470-Ma sills in the lower Belt in Montana and Canada indicates that all but the uppermost Belt strata (about 1700 m) were deposited over a period of about 70 million years, considerably reducing the time span from longstanding estimates ranging from 250 to 600 million years. Calculated sediment accumulation rates between dated samples indicates rapid, but not unreasonable, values for early Belt strata, with decreasing rates through time. These ages also suggest the inadequacy of previously published paleomagnetic data to resolve Belt Supergroup chronology at an appropriate level of accuracy.

You do not currently have access to this article.