ABSTRACT

The Raton Basin of Colorado–New Mexico, USA, is the southeasternmost basin of the Laramide intraforeland province of North America. It hosts a thick succession (4.5 km or 15,000 ft) of Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene marine and continental strata that were deposited in response to the final regression of the Western Interior Seaway and the onset of Laramide intraforeland deformation. The Upper Cretaceous–Paleogene Raton and Poison Canyon formations were previously described as meandering river and braided river deposits that represented distal and proximal members of rivers that drained the basin-bounding Sangre de Cristo–Culebra uplift. We present new observations of fluvial-channel architecture that show that both formations contain the deposits of sinuous fluvial channels. However, fluvial channels of the Raton Formation formed in ever-wet environments and were affected by steady discharge, whereas channels of the overlying Poison Canyon Formation formed in drier environments and were affected by variable discharge. The apparent transition in fluvial discharge characteristics was coeval with the progradation of fluvial fans across the Raton Basin during the Paleocene, emanating from the ancestral Sangre de Cristo–Culebra uplift. The construction of fluvial fans, coupled with the sedimentary features observed within, highlights the dual control of Laramide deformation and early Cenozoic climatic patterns on the sedimentary evolution of the Raton Basin.

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