The Paleocene–Eocene strata of the rapidly subsiding Hanna Basin give insights in sedimentation patterns and regional paleogeography during the Laramide orogeny and across the climatic event at the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Abundant coalbeds and carbonaceous shales of the fluvial, paludal, and lacustrine strata of the Hanna Formation offer a different depositional setting than PETM sections described in the nearby Piceance and Bighorn Basins, and the uniquely high sediment accumulation rates give an expanded and near-complete record across this interval. Stratigraphic sections were measured for an ~1250 m interval spanning the Paleocene–Eocene boundary across the northeastern syncline of the basin, documenting depositional changes between axial fluvial sandstones, basin margin, paludal, floodplain, and lacustrine deposits. Leaf macrofossils, palynology, mollusks, δ13C isotopes of bulk organic matter, and zircon sample locations were integrated within the stratigraphic framework and refined the position of the PETM. As observed in other basins of the same age, an interval of coarse, amalgamated sandstones occurs as a response to the PETM. Although this pulse of relatively coarser sediment appears related to climate change at the PETM, it must be noted that several very similar sandstone bodies occur with the Hanna Formation. These sandstones occur in regular intervals and have an apparent cyclic pattern; however, age control is not sufficient yet to address the origin of the cyclicity. Signs of increased ponding and lake expansion upward in the section appear to be a response to basin isolation by emerging Laramide uplifts.

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