Geochemistry and Basin Analysis of Laramide Rocky Mountain Basins
detrital zircon geochronology
stable isotope geochemistry
AdvisorDeCelles, Peter G.
Dettman, David L.
Committee ChairDeCelles, Peter G.
Dettman, David L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Laramide Rocky Mountains in western U.S.A is an important topographic feature in the continental interior, yet its formation and evolution are poorly constrained. This study uses the oxygen and strontium isotope geochemistry of freshwater bivalve fossils from six Laramide basins in order to reconstruct the spatial evolution of the paleotopography and Precambrian basement erosion in late Cretaceous-early Eocene. In addition it uses the sedimentology, detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology, and isotope paleoaltimetry of early Eocene sedimentary strata to constrain the tectonic setting, paleogeography and paleoclimate of the Wind River basin. Annual and seasonal variation in ancient riverwater δ¹⁸O reconstructed from shell fossils shows that the Canadian Rocky Mountains was 4.5±1.0 km high in late Cretaceous-early Paleocene, and the Laramide ranges in eastern Wyoming reached 4.5±1.3 km high, while the ranges in western Wyoming were 1-2 km high in late Paleocene. The ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr ratios of riverwaters reconstructed from the same fossils show that Proterozoic metamorphic carbonates in the Belt-Purcell Supergroup were not exposed in the Canadian Rocky Mountains during Late Cretaceous-early Paleocene, but that Precambrian silicate basement rock was exposed and eroded in the Laramide ranges during late Paleocene-early Eocene. The sedimentary environment of the early Eocene Wind River basin changed from gravelly fluvial and/or stream-dominated alluvial fan to low-sinuosity fluvial systems. Tectonic uplift of the Washakie and Wind River Range in early Eocene formed the modern paleodrainage system, although the elevation of the basin floor was only ~500 m high at that time, and early Eocene paleoclimate is more humid than modern climate.