An 40Ar/39Ar age of 85.81 Ma ?? 0.22 my was obtained on sanidine from a volcanic procellanite bed near the top of the 2135 + m-thick Upper Cretaceous Frontier Formation in the Lima Peaks area of southwestern Montana. This early Santonian age, combined with previously determined age data including a palynological age of Cenomanian for the lower Frontier at Lima Peaks, and a U-Pb isotopic date of about 95 Ma for the base of the Frontier Formation in the eastern Pioneer Mountains north of the Lima Peaks area, provides an age range for this nonmarine formation. In the Madison Range, farther east in southwestern Montana, this age range corresponds to marine strata of not only the Frontier Formation, but also the overlying Cody Shale and Telegraph Creek Formation, a sequence that totals less than 760 m thick. The Upper Cretaceous marine formations of the Madison Range are closely zoned by molluscan faunas that are well constrained with radiometric dates. The 40Ar/39Ar age of 85.81 Ma ?? 0.22 my at Lima Peaks is bracketed by radiometric dates for the Scaphites depressus - Protexanites bourgeoisianus biozone and the overlying Clioscaphites saxitonianus - Inoceramus undulatoplicatus biozone of the Western Interior. Fossils of both of these biozones are present in the Cody Shale and the Telegraph Creek Formation in the Madison Range. The Telegraph Creek contains two units of volcanic ash that are approximate time equivalents of the volcanic procellanite of the Lima Peaks area. Clasts in the conglomerate of the upper part of the Frontier in the Lima Peaks area were shed during the initial stages of uplift of the Blacktail-Snowcrest highlands which rose to the north. The dated porcellanite lies above the conglomerates and indicates that the uplift was initiated by middle or late Coniacian, 87-88 Ma. ?? 1997 Academic Press Limited.
Additional publication details
Correlation of Upper Cretaceous strata from Lima Peaks area to Madison Range, southwestern Montana and southeastern Idaho, USA