New palynological data from syntectonic deposits in southwestern Montana have major temporal implications for Laramide structural relations in the northern Rocky Mountains. Conglomerate and associated sandstones representing the bulk of material eroded from the thrust-faulted margin of the Blacktail-Snowcrest foreland massif are middle Campanian (Aquilapollenites senonicus Interval Zone; estimated absolute age 78–81 Ma). As a major consequence, the foreland buttress responsible for the shape of the southwestern Montana recess of the Cordilleran thrust belt was uplifted and in place by middle Campanian time. Palynomorph assemblages from the Campanian deposits include reworked spores of Paleozoic age that are evidence of provenance. Other less precisely dated syntectonic units in the area differ in age and provenance as well as lithology.
Formerly, all these deposits were assigned to the Beaverhead Formation, which is raised to group status herein. The stratigraphic unit shed from the Blacktail-Snowcrest uplift is raised to formation status as the Lima Conglomerate. The term “Beaverhead Group” is restricted to the Lima Conglomerate and to contemporaneous and younger conglomeratic units that differ in lithology and probably in provenance; older sandstone units are removed from the Beaverhead Group. Deposits at the original type section of the Beaverhead Formation are not precisely dated but are no older than Campanian and probably no younger than early Maestrichtian.