Cretaceous rocks from southwestern Montana to southwestern Minnesota, northern Rocky Mountains, and Great Plains

Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
By: , and 



In Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, and Minnesota, Cretaceous strata are preserved in the asymmetric Western Interior foreland basin. More than 5,200 m (17,000 ft) of Cretaceous strata are present in southwestern Montana, less than 300 m (1,000 ft) in eastern South Dakota. The asymmetry resulted from varying rates of subsidence due to tectonic and sediment loading. The strata consist primarily of sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, and shale. Conglomerate is locally abundant along the western margin, whereas carbonate is present in most areas of the eastern shelf. Sediment was deposited in both marine and nonmarine environments as the shoreline fluctuated during major tectonic and eustatic cycles.

A discussion of Cretaceous strata from southwestern to east-central Montana, the Black Hills, eastern South Dakota, and southwestern Minnesota shows regional stratigraphy and facies relations, sequence, boundaries, and biostratigraphic and radiometric correlations. The thick Cretaceous strata in southwestern Montana typify nonmarine facies of the rapidly subsiding westernmost part of the basin. These strata include more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) of synorogenic conglomerate of the Upper Cretaceous part of the Beaverhead Group. West of the Madison Range, sequence boundaries bracket the Kootenai (Aptian and Albian), the Blackleaf (Albian and Cenomanian), and the Frontier Formations (Cenomanian and Turonian); sequence boundaries are difficult to recognize because the rocks are dominantly non-marine. Cretaceous strata in east-central Montana (about 1,371 m; 4,500 ft thick) lie at the approximate depositional axis of the basin and are mostly marine terrigenous rocks. Chert-pebble zones in these rocks reflect stratigraphic breaks that may correlate with sequence boundaries to the east and west. Cretaceous rocks of the Black Hills region consist of a predominantly marine clastic sequence averaging approximately 1,524 m (5,000 ft) thick. The Cretaceous System in eastern South Dakota (457 to 610 m; 1,500 to 2,000 ft thick) consists of a marine shelf sequence dominated by shale and limestone. Major sequence boundaries in South Dakota are at the base of the Lower Cretaceous Lakota Formation, Fall River Sandstone, and Muddy Sandstone, and bracket the Upper Cretaceous Niobrara Formation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Cretaceous rocks from southwestern Montana to southwestern Minnesota, northern Rocky Mountains, and Great Plains
Series title Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
Volume 287
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Description 12 p.
First page 5
Last page 26
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