Abstract

Recent stratigraphic studies in three widely separated localities in southeastern Idaho and western Utah have revealed a startling continuity of both individual rock units and of rock sequences over a distance of some 300 mi parallel to the strike of a late Precambrian and Cambrian depositional trough. Between 15,000 and 25,000 ft of beds were deposited in the axis of the trough, whereas only 1000 to 3300 ft of correlative rocks were laid down on the shelf to the east. In several areas a diamictite is present near the base of the sequence; this is underlain locally and overlain generally by argillites containing lenticular limestones and dolomites; these in turn are succeeded by quartzitic rocks containing a thick grayish-red to maroon unit—the Mutual Formation. In each area the sequence includes, at the top, quartzites typical of the basal Cambrian. Deposition in the basin was essentially continuous from late Precambrian into Cambrian time but was interrupted by uplift and erosion on the shelf. The hinge line of the ancient seaway is inferred to have coincided roughly with the present “Wasatch line,” but erosion prior to deposition of the Tintic Quartzite has removed most of the data needed to establish this with certainty.

Rocks in each of the three areas described here in detail are regarded as allochthonous and appear to have been thrust eastward during the Sevier orogeny. A precise reconstruction of the sedimentary basin must therefore await not only additional stratigraphic studies in such areas as the Promontory Range of Utah and the Bannock and Malad Ranges of southern Idaho, but also final resolution of the structural events.

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