1887
Volume 17, Issue 4
  • E-ISSN: 1365-2117

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Deposition and subsidence analysis, coupled with previous structural studies of the Sevier thrust belt, provide a means of reconstructing the detailed kinematic history of depositional response to episodic thrusting in the Cordilleran foreland basin of southern Wyoming, western interior USA. The Upper Cretaceous basin fill is divided into five megasequences bounded by unconformities. The Sevier thrust belt in northern Utah and southwestern Wyoming deformed in an eastward progression of episodic thrusting. Three major episodes of displacement on the Willard‐Meade, Crawford and ‘early’ Absaroka thrusts occurred from Aptian to early Campanian, and the thrust wedge gradually became supercritically tapered. The Frontier Formation conglomerate, Echo Canyon and Weber Canyon Conglomerates and Little Muddy Creek Conglomerate were deposited in response to these major thrusting events. Corresponding to these proximal conglomerates within the thrust belt, Megasequences 1, 2 and 3 were developed in the distal foreland of southern Wyoming. Two‐dimensional (2‐D) subsidence analyses show that the basin was divided into foredeep, forebulge and backbulge depozones. Foredeep subsidence in Megasequences 1, 2 and 3, resulting from Willard‐Meade, Crawford and ‘early’ Absaroka thrust loading, were confined to a narrow zone in the western part of the basin. Subsidence in the broad region east of the forebulge was dominantly controlled by sediment loading and inferred dynamic subsidence. Individual subsidence curves are characterized by three stages from rapid to slow. Controlled by relationships between accommodation and sediment supply, the basin was filled with retrogradational shales during periods of rapid subsidence, followed by progradational coarse clastic wedges during periods of slow subsidence. During middle Campanian time (. 78.5–73.4 Ma), the thrust wedge was stalled because of wedge‐top erosion and became subcritical, and the foredeep zone eroded and rebounded because of isostasy. The eroded sediments were transported far from the thrust belt, and constitute Megasequence 4 that was mostly composed of fluvial and coastal plain depositional systems. Subsidence rates were very slow, because of post‐thrusting rebound, and the resulting 2‐D subsidence was lenticular in an east–west direction. During late Campanian to early Maastrichtian time, widespread deposits of coarse sediment (the Hams Fork Conglomerate) aggraded the top of the thrust wedge after it stalled, prior to initiation of ‘late’ Absaroka thrusting. Meanwhile Megasequence 5 was deposited in the Wyoming foreland under the influence of both the intraforeland Wind River basement uplift and the Sevier thrust belt.

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