The Albian Stage of the mid-Cretaceous was a time of equable climate conditions with high sea levels and broad shallow epeiric seas that may have had a moderating affect on continental climates. A Late Albian landscape surface that developed during a regression and subsequent sea-level rise in the Western Canada Foreland Basin is reconstructed on the basis of correlation of paleosols penetrated by cores through the Paddy Member of the Peace River Formation. Reconstruction of this landscape refines chronostratigraphic relationships and will benefit future paleoclimatological studies utilizing continental sphaerosiderite proxy records. The paleosols developed in estuarine sandstones and mudstones, and they exhibit evidence of a polygenetic history. Upon initial exposure and pedogenesis, the Paddy Member developed deeply weathered, well-drained cumulative soil profiles. Later stages of pedogenesis were characterized by hydromorphic soil conditions. The stages of soil development interpreted for the Paddy Member correlate with inferred stages of pedogenic development in time-equivalent formations located both basinward and downslope (upper Viking Formation), and landward and upslope (Boulder Creek Formation). On the basis of the genetic similarity among paleosols in these three correlative formations, the paleosols are interpreted as having formed along a single, continuous landscape surface. Results of this study indicate that the catena concept of pedogenesis along sloping landscapes is applicable to ancient successions.
Sphaerosiderites in the Paddy Member paleosols are used to provide proxy values for meteoric δ18O values at 52° N paleolatitude in the Cretaceous Western Interior Basin. The meteoric δ18O values are used to refine existing interpretations about the mid-Cretaceous paleolatitudinal gradient in meteoric δ18O values, and the mid-Cretaceous hydrologic cycle.