Abstract

The flexural subsidence history recorded in Cenomanian to early Campanian (97 to 80 Ma) strata in the Cretaceous U.S. Western Interior basin was studied with two-dimensional flexural backstripping techniques. Results indicate that the flexural subsidence resulting from thrust loading was superimposed on epeirogenic subsidence in the foreland basin. The flexural component exhibits significant spatial and temporal variations along both the strike and dip relative to the Sevier thrust belt. The greatest cumulative subsidence occurred in southwestern Wyoming and northern Utah. Concurrent subsidence in northwestern Montana and southern Utah was insignificant. Temporal trends in subsidence also show a distinct regional pattern. From the Cenomanian to late Turonian (97 to 90 Ma), subsidence rates were high in Utah and much lower in Wyoming and Montana. In contrast, during the Coniacian and Santonian (90 to 85 Ma) subsidence accelerated rapidly in Wyoming, increased slightly in Montana, and decreased in Utah. We suggest that these spatially and temporally varying subsidence patterns reflect the interplay of several geodynamic factors, including: (1) temporal and spatial variation in emplacement of the thrust loads, (2) segmentation of the basement into adjacent blocks with different rheological properties, (3) reactivation of basement fault trends, and (4) regional dynamic topographic effects.

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