Reconstructions of the Albian to Campanian foreland basin adjacent to the northern Canadian Cordillera are based on outcrop and well log correlations, seismic interpretation, and reconnaissance-level detrital zircon analysis. The succession is subdivided into two tectonostratigraphic units. First is an Albian tectonostratigraphic unit that was deposited on the flexural margin of a foreland basin. At the base is a shallow marine sandstone interval that was deposited during transgressive reworking of sediment from cratonic sources east of the basin that resulted in a dominant 2000-1800Ma detrital zircon age fraction. Subsequent deposition in a west-facing muddy ramp setting was followed by east-to-west shoreface progradation into the basin. Near the Albian-Cenomanian boundary, regional uplift and exhumation resulted in an angular unconformity at the base of the Cenomanian-Campanian tectonostratigraphic unit. Renewed subsidence in the Cenomanian resulted in deposition of organic-rich, radioactive, black mudstone of the Slater River Formation in a foredeep setting. Cenomanian-Turonian time saw west-to-east progradation of a shoreface-shelf system from the orogenic margin of the foreland basin over the foredeep deposits. Detrital zircon age peaks of approximately 1300Ma, 1000Ma, and 400Ma from a Turonian sample are consistent with recycling of Mississippian and older strata from the Cordillera west of the study area, and show that the orogen-attached depositional system delivered sediment from the orogen to the foreland basin. A near syndepositional detrital zircon age of ca. 93Ma overlaps with known granitoid ages from the Cordillera. After the shelf system prograded across the study area, subsequent pulses of subsidence and uplift resulted in dramatic thickness variations across an older structural belt, the Keele Tectonic Zone, from the Turonian to the Campanian. The succession of depositional systems in the study area from flexural margin to foredeep to orogenic margin is attributed to coupled foreland propagation of the front of the Cordilleran orogen and the foreland basin. Propagation of crustal thickening and deformation toward the foreland is a typical feature of orogens and so the distal to proximal evolution of the foreland basin should also be considered as typical.

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Marine and Petroleum Geology
Department of Earth Sciences

Hadlari, T. (Thomas), MacLean, B.C. (Bernard C.), Galloway, J.M. (Jennifer M.), Sweet, A.R. (Arthur R.), White, J.M. (James M.), Thomson, D. (Danielle), … Schroder-Adams, C. (2014). The flexural margin, the foredeep, and the orogenic margin of a northern Cordilleran foreland basin: Cretaceous tectonostratigraphy and detrital zircon provenance, northwestern Canada. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 57, 173–186. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2014.05.019