Effects of contemporaneous orogenesis on sedimentation in the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Basin, northern Utah and southwestern Wyoming

Elizabeth M. Davis, Kurt W. Rudolph, Joel E. Saylor, Thomas J. Lapen, Julia S. Wellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Three drivers of subsidence are recognized in the Western Interior Basin: Mesozoic–early Cenozoic flexure adjacent to the thin-skinned, eastward propagating Sevier Orogeny, Late Cretaceous–Eocene flexure associated with thick-skinned Laramide Uplifts and Late Cretaceous dynamic subsidence. This study combines outcrop lithofacies, palaeocurrent measurements, detrital zircon geochronology, biostratigraphy, stratigraphic correlations and isopach maps of Coniacian–Maastrichtian (89–66 Ma) units to identify these subsidence mechanisms impact on basin geometry and stratigraphic architecture in the northern Utah to southwestern Wyoming segment of the North American Cordillera. Detrital zircon maximum depositional ages and biostratigraphy support that the Maastrichtian Hams Fork Conglomerate was deposited above the Moxa unconformity in the wedgetop and foredeep depozones. The Moxa unconformity underlies the progradational Ericson Formation in the distal foredeep. The Hams Fork, however, is younger than the Ericson Formation, and instead equivalent to upper Almond Formation. Therefore, the hiatus associated with the Moxa unconformity continued for several million years longer in the fold belt and proximal basin than in the distal foredeep, with Ericson Formation-equivalent strata onlapping the Moxa unconformity towards the west. Regional thickness patterns record and constrain the timing of the transition from Sevier to Laramide-style tectonic regimes. From 88 to 83 Ma (upper Baxter Formation) a westward-thickening stratigraphic wedge characterized the foredeep developed by lithospheric flexure by thrust-belt loading. Nevertheless, the presence of >500 m of subsidence >200 km from the thrust front suggests a long-wavelength subsidence mechanism consistent with dynamic subsidence. By 83 Ma (Blair Formation) the long-wavelength depocentre shifted away from the thrust belt, with no evidence of a Sevier foredeep. This depocentre continued migrating eastward during the early-mid Campanian (ca. 81–77 Ma). The late Campanian–Maastrichtian (ca. 74–66 Ma) is marked by narrow sedimentary wedges adjacent to the Wind River, Granite and Uinta Mountain uplifts and attributed to flexural loading by Laramide deformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-392
Number of pages27
JournalBasin Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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