Principles of chemostratigraphic characterization and correlation employing whole-rock inorganic chemical data and heavy mineral grain counts are applied to the frontier Bowser and Sustut basins. Methodologies commonly used with well samples in mature petroleum provinces can be applied to field samples, providing a vital and practical link between the earliest frontier investigations and more advanced hydrocarbon exploration.
The major stratigraphic divisions of the basins, the Bowser Lake and Sustut groups, have markedly different indications of sedimentary provenance from heavy mineral analysis, and are readily differentiated geochemically. Variations in key elements are related directly to the provenance indications identified by heavy minerals.
Lithofacies assemblages within the Bowser Lake Group also display contrasting provenance signatures. Sandstones and conglomerates from marine facies (Ritchie-Alger, Todagin, and Muskaboo Creek assemblages) are differentiated from those of the deltaic and nonmarine units (Eaglenest, Skelhorne, Groundhog-Gunanoot and Jenkins Creek assemblages) by higher Fe2O3 and MgO contents, which may relate to increased glauconite contents in marine units. Sandstones and conglomerates from the deltaic to nonmarine units are separated with less certainty by heavy mineral contents and element concentrations or ratios.