We describe and analyze the depositional history and stratigraphic architecture of the Campanian and Maastrichtian succession of the southern greater Green River basin of Wyoming, USA, and surrounding areas to better understand the interplay between tectonic and eustatic drivers that built the stratigraphy. By integrating new measured sections with published outcrop, well-log, and paleogeographic data, two new stratigraphic correlation diagrams, 35 new paleogeographic reconstructions, and six new tectonic diagrams were created for this part of the Western Interior Seaway. From this work, two time-scales of organization are evident: (1) 100−300 k.y.-scale, mainly eustatically driven regressive-transgressive shoreline oscillations that generated repeated sequences of alluvial-coastal plain-shoreline deposits, passing basinward to subaqueous deltas, then capped by transgressive estuarine/barrier lagoon deposits, and (2) 3.0−4.0 m.y.-scale, tectonically driven groups of 10 to 15 of these eustatically driven units stacked in an offset arrangement to form larger clastic units, which are herein referred to as clastic wedges. Four regional clastic wedges are recognized, based on the architectures of these clastic packages. These are the: (1) Adaville, (2) Rock Springs, (3) Iles, and (4) Williams Fork clastic wedges. Pre-Mesaverde deposition in the Wyoming-Utah-Colorado (USA) region during the Middle Cretaceous was characterized by thickening of the clastic wedge close to the thrust-front, driven primarily by retroarc foreland basin (flexural) tectonics. However, a basinward shift in deposition during the Santonian into the early Campanian (Adaville clastic wedge) signaled a change in the dominant stratigraphic drivers in the region. Shoreline advance accelerated in the early to middle Campanian (Rock Springs clastic wedge), as the end of activity in the thrust belt, growing importance of flat-slab subduction, and steady eastward migration of the zone of dynamic subsidence led to loss of the foredeep and forebulge, with the attendant formation of a low-accommodation shelf environment. This “flat-shelf” environment promoted large shoreline advances and retreats during sea-level rise and fall. During the middle to late Campanian (Iles clastic wedge), deep erosion on the crest of the Moxa Arch, thinning on the crests of the Rock Springs and Rawlins uplifts, and subsequent Laramide-driven basin formation occurred as the Laramide blocks began to partition the region. The next clastic package (Williams Fork clastic wedge) pushed the shoreline over 400 km away from the thrust belt during the late Campanian. This was followed by a very large and persistent marine transgression across the region, with the formation of a Laramide-driven deepwater turbidite basin with toe-of-slope fans into the early Maastrichtian. The Mesaverde Group in the Wyoming-Utah-Colorado region is thus characterized by: (1) a succession of four tectonically driven classic wedges, each comprised of a dozen or so eustatically driven packages that preserve large basinward and landward shoreline shifts, (2) broad regional sand and silt dispersal on a low-accommodation marine shelf setting, (3) a progressive, tectonically driven, basinward shift of deposition with offset, basinward stacking of successive clastic wedges, and (4) the gradual formation of various uplifts and sub-basins, the timing and sizes of which were controlled by the movement of deep-seated Laramide blocks. The Mesaverde Group in the Wyoming-Utah-Colorado region provides an outstanding opportunity to study the dynamic interaction among the tectonic control elements of a subducting plate (crustal loading-flexure, dynamic subsidence/uplift, and regional flat-slab basin partitioning), as well as the dynamic interaction of tectonic and eustatic controls.
Tectonic and eustatic control of Mesaverde Group (Campanian−Maastrichtian) architecture, Wyoming-Utah-Colorado region, USA
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Keith P. Minor, Ronald J. Steel, Cornel Olariu; Tectonic and eustatic control of Mesaverde Group (Campanian−Maastrichtian) architecture, Wyoming-Utah-Colorado region, USA. GSA Bulletin 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B36032.1
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