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Correlation of the Upper Cretaceous Montana Group between southern

Alberta and Montana

Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, Toronto 5 , Ontario
Received January 29, 1970.
Accepted for publication April 8, 1970
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Critical comparisons of Montanan sequences in southern Alberta and various parts of Mon-
tana permit some conclusions on north-south, as well as east-west, correlation. The Lower
Milk River sandstone of Alberta is the equivalent of the Lower Eagle sandstone of north-
western Montana but both differ from the type Virgelle Sandstone, with which they have been
equated. The Pakowki Formation of Alberta represents the Claggett of Montana plus lower
parts of the Judith River Formation. The remainder of the Judith River Formation is equiv-
alent to the Foremost and Oldman Formations of Alberta. The Bearpaw Formation thins
markedly from east to west, and uppermost shales pass into marine sandstones and these in
turn into non-marine formations. Of the various formational boundaries, the top of the Lower
Milk River and Lower Eagle sandstone, the base of the Pakonki and Claggett Shale, and the
top of the Oldman and Judith River Formations, are also time boundaries throughout large
parts of the region.

Introduction taneously, i.e., that they were transgressive and

More than a century of geological field work regressive in time, but in practice this was
For personal use only.

in the northern Great Plains has revealed many ignored, and homotaxial correlations were
details of the Late Cretaceous interior sea. treated as if they were time correlations. It has
From Cenomanian time to almost the close of taken over 30 years of detailed research in
the Cretaceous Period the western interior was stratigraphy and stratigraphic paleontology,
inundated, at times all the way from the Gulf helped recently by potassium-argon dating, to
of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. This inland sea show fully the profound effects that shifting
fluctuated repeatedly, especially along its west- shore lines have had on the stratigraphy.
ern margin, leaving a succession of alternating Two aspects of correlation in the Montana
marine deposits, mostly dark shales, and non- Group still require rigorous examination. One
marine sediments, mostly sandstones. As the is the north-south relationships. Stratigraphers
alternation was repeated several times, it was in the United States and their Canadian col-
inevitable that the early investigators should leagues have worked independently, and have
confuse the cycles, incorrectly correlating depended on each other's published reports as
groups of formations that show the same se- the basis for international correlation. The
quence but which are of different ages. This present writer has long held that this was not
kind of error was made in both Montana and good enough, and the same idea occurred inde-
Alberta, but in different ways. The story of pendently to W. A. Cobban and J. R. Gill of
these errors and the way that they were recog- the United States Geological Survey. In 1962
nized and corrected is an interesting chapter they examined a number of Cretaceous sections
in the history of North American geology, but in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Cobban
somewhat outside the scope of the present and Russell joined in 1965 to re-examine sec-
paper. By the early 1900's the major mistakes tions in Alberta, from Oldman River on the
had been eliminated, mostly as a result of the west to the Cypress Hills on the east. Par-
fieId work of T. W. Stanton and J. B. Hatcher ticular attention was paid to the Milk River
( 1905) in Montana and D. B. Dowling (1917) area. In 1967 Cobban and Gill conducted
in Alberta. Russell on a tour of critical sections in Mon-
Unfortunately, another source of error re- tana, from Porcupine dome on the east to the
mained to be recognized. No doubt all stratig- Two Medicine Valley on the west. Various
raphers would have agreed that the alternation localities in Chouteau County, Montana, were
of sea and land did not take place instan- visited by Russell in 1968, and sections mea-

Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 7, 1099 (1970)

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114' 11 2O lloO 108' lob0 104*

FIG.1. Outline map of Montana and parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan showing locations
of stratigraphic sections: 1, Toole and Pondera Counties, Montana; 2, southwestern Alberta;
3, southeastern Alberta; 4, Chouteau, Fergus and Blaine Counties, Montana; 5, Petroleum and
Garfield Counties, Montana.
sured. This was in addition to critical re- of some characteristic feature that permits
examination of parts of the section along Milk certain identification, to make it acceptable as
River, Alberta. a datum plane of time. Other physical evidence,
These international excursions have pro- such as thickness of formations or analogous
vided an understanding of the physical correla- succession, are not reliable by themselves as
tion between the Montanan formations of the basis for time correlation, but deserve to be
southern Alberta and north-central Montana. considered as supplementary evidence. Potas-
The second requirement remained, a more pre- sium-argon age determinations, derived in
cise establishment of time boundaries within most cases from minerals in the bentonite beds,
the region. The fossil succession, particularly are not as yet precise enough to provide real
that of the ammonites, remains the most prac- time boundaries, but with a little interpolation
tical means of time correlation, because it is they make possible the construction of a time
applicable to sections that are widely separated scale into which the physical and biological
geographically and very different lithologically. events can be fitted.
A more precise time boundary, under certain
circumstances, is provided by beds of bentonite.
It may be assumed that a continuous bed of Stratigraphic Sections
bentonite in marine deposits represents a single Southeastern Alberta (Fig. 2 , Section 3 )
fall of volcanic dust, that is, an instant of The Montana Group in this area is exposed
geological time. It is only necessary, therefore, in an almost continuous sequence along Milk
to establish the continuity of a particular ben- River and on the southwest flank of the Cypress
tonite bed, either by visual tracing, or by means Hills. Colorado shale appears on the Inter-
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feet shale

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FIG. 2. Columnar Sections of Montanan formations in parts of southern Alberta and
Montana, showing physical correlation. Section 1: Toole and Pondera Counties, Montana
(Stebinger 1914). Section 2 : southwestern Alberta (Russell 1940). Section 3 : southeastern
Alberta (Russell 1940). Section 4: Chouteau, Fergus and Blaine Counties, Montana (Stanton
and Hatcher 1905; Pierce and Hunt 1937; Hearn et al. 1964). Section 5: Petroleum and
Garfield Counties, Montana (Johnson and Smith 1964; Jensen and Varnes 1964).

national Boundary (Russell 1940; Wall 1967), base of the Pakowki formation." These pro-
but the transition to the overlying Milk River posals are based on a misreading of Dowling's
Formation is concealed. The lowest Milk River text and a misunderstanding of the section in
beds exposed are shaly, passing upward into Fergus County, Montana. It is true that Dow-
massive, cliff-forming sandstone, with a ten- ling's discussion of the "Milk River Sandstone"
dency to castellated weathering. This presumed is a little ambiguous, because he concentrated
deltaic deposit, the Lower Milk River beds, is on the massive sandstone with its importance
overlain abruptly by the Upper Milk River as a structural marker and an aquifer. But he
beds, soft sandstones, and clays with impure also mentioned "a series of transition beds at
lignite. the top of the castellated sandstone" and com-
It has been proposed (Meyboom 1960) that pared these with what we now call the Oldman
the term Milk River sandstone be restricted to Formation, an obvious reference to the Upper
the lower, massive sandstone, on the grounds Milk River beds. The thicknesses given by
that this was the original usage of Dowling Dowling for the formation would have to in-
( 1917), and that the name Eagle Formation clude both Upper and Lower divisions. The
be extended from Montana as the inclusive mention of plant impressions and fresh-water
term for "the stratigraphic interval between the mollusks confirms that he was discussing Upper
top of the Colorado formation . . . and the as well as Lower Milk River beds. Finally,

Map 187 A which accompanies Dowling's re- Formation, but they contain marine fossils, and
port, shows the area of outcrop of the "Milk eastward they pass over into dark gray shale.
River Sandstone" as approximately the same For these reasons they are regarded as part of
as that shown by more recent surveys for the the Bearpaw Formation (Furnival 1946; Rus-
combined upper and lower parts of the Milk sell 1948). The term Eastend Formation is
River Formation. now restricted to the sandstone between the
In the description of the sequence in north- uppermost marine shale and the Whitemud
central Montana (see below) it is shown that Formation; in Alberta there are sandy shales
the type section of the Eagle Formation in and coal seams inter-bedded with the sand-
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Fergus County is different from that of the stones.

Milk River Formation of Alberta. In contrast,
the Eagle beds of northwestern Montana are North-central Montana (Fig.2, Section 4)
closely comparable with the Milk River beds The key section in Montana is along Mis-
of Alberta. One might make a case for extend- souri River and its tributaries, in Chouteau and
ing the name "Milk River" into northwestern Fergus Counties. This is the classical section
Montana, rather than bringing "Eagle" into of F. V. Hayden and of Stanton and Hatcher
Alberta. (1 905). In many respects it is similar to the
The contact of the Milk River Formation section on Milk River, but there are significant
with the overlying Pakowki Shale is marked differences, and some of the resemblances are
by a bed of small black chert pebbles. This deceptive.
widespread marker is thought by some to be The lowest Montanan formation here con-
detritus from the marine erosion of the under- sists of drab, silty shales, transitional below to
For personal use only.

lying Milk River sandstones. The Pakowki the dark gray shales of the Colorado group.
Formation consists of dark gray shale in the Two names have been applied to these beds,
lower half, with some bentonite beds near the depending on the section of reference: Tele-
base. Higher in the formation there are dis- graph Creek from the south and Gammon from
tinct sandstone members, with shale between, the east. The characteristic marine mollusks of
and then the upper part which is mostly silty these shales have not been found in the Col-
shale. The contact with the overlying Foremost orado - Milk River transition in Alberta. Above
Formation is transitional, and regressive from the Telegraph Creek beds is a massive white
west to east. The Foremost beds are sombre sandstone, the typical Virgelle Sandstone
sands and clays, with coal seams and thick (Bowen 1915, p. 97). This is overlain in turn
oyster beds, and occasional fresh-water shells by shales and sandstones with coal, a thick
and dinosaur bones. Above the highest coal bed of massive sandstone, and soft sandy clays.
the rocks change to light gray sandy clays with The sequence from base of the Virgelle Sand-
beds of sandstone; these make up the Oldman stone to top of the sandy clays makes up the
Formation. The shells of fresh-water and land Eagle Formation (Stanton and Hatcher 1905,
mollusks, and the bones of vertebrates, are p. 12; Pierce and Hunt 1937, pp. 242-245).
common in places. At the top of the formation It is homotaxial with the Milk River Forma-
is a series of coal seams with the shells of tion but only the upper massive sandstone and
oysters and other brackish water fossils; this is the sandy clays are comparable lithologically,
known as the Lethbridge Coal Member. and the latter lack the impure lignitic layers
The overlying Bearpaw Formation is made so characteristic of the Upper Milk River beds.
up almost entirely of dark gray shale, like the At the top of the Eagle Formation is a thin
lower part of the Pakowki Formation. Shells layer of black chert pebbles, seemingly identical
of marine mollusks are numerous in the Bear- with those found at the top of the Upper Milk
paw beds, especially in the ironstone concre- River beds in Alberta. The rocks above, pre-
tions. A number of thin, well-spaced bentonite dominantly dark gray shale, make up the
beds are present. At the top of the formation Claggett Formation (Stanton and Hatcher
there are several thick sandstone members 1905, p. 13; Pierce and Hunt 1937, pp. 236-
formerly included in the overlying Eastend 242). There is a 2-ft (0.6-m) bentonite bed

about 5 ft (1.5 m ) above the chert pebbles, not feasible, especially as the Pakowki-Fore-
and another 2.5 ft (0.8 m) thick, about 60 ft most and Foremost-Oldman contacts vary
( 18 m) higher in the section. Above the shale stratigraphically between different parts of
there are two conspicuous sandstone members, southern Alberta.
similar in lithology and fossil content to the The overlying Bearpaw Formation (Stanton
two sandstones in the middle of the Pakowki and Hatcher 1905, p. 13) is not fully exposed
Formation of Alberta. Stanton and Hatcher in Fergus County, but in Blaine County to the
(1905, p. 44) included these sandstones in northeast thicknesses of 1070 to 1330 ft have
their Claggett Formation, presumably because been measured (Hearn et al. 1964, p. 19).
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of the abundant marine mollusks. These fossils Here, the formation is divisible into lower
are of some historical interest, because it was shale with numerous bentonite beds, middle
their confusion with the Fox Hills fauna of the shale with little bentonite, and upper transition
Dakotas that led to the misinterpretation of the beds of sandstone and shale. This last portion
stratigraphy by Hayden and his successors in is analogous to, and probably the extension of,
north-central Montana. the sandstone and shale sequence at the top of
The overlying Judith River Formation is a the Bearpaw Formation in southeastern Al-
thick series of sandy clays and lenticular sand- berta and adjacent Saskatchewan (Russell
stones, light gray to grayish-brown in color in 1948).
contrast to the sombre grays and browns of the The Bearpaw Formation is overlain by the
Claggett. As noted above, the base of the for- Fox Hills Sandstone (Hearn et al. 1964, p.
mation was originally defined as the fresh-water 20). This is homotaxial with the Eastend For-
beds overlying the marine sandstones. How- mation of southeastern Alberta but may also
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ever, Bowen (1914, p. 362; 1915, p. 100) include equivalents of uppermost Bearpaw
argued that the sandstones placed by Stanton sandstone in that area.
and Hatcher in the top of the Claggett con-
tained fresh-water and brackish water fossils Eastern Montana (Fig. 2, Section 5 )
in other areas, and should be considered as the In going east from Fergus County one is
lower part of the Judith River Formation. This moving seaward, so to speak, and may expect
proposal has been followed by Pierce and Hunt to find marine deposits replacing non-marine
(1937, p. 237), and appears to be accepted deposits. A good section is exposed in Garfield
practice of the United States Geological Sur- and Petroleum Counties, on the north side of the
vey. But Bowen's argument works both ways, Mosby anticline (Johnson and Smith 1964).
and in Alberta the equivalent sandstones and Here the dark gray Carlile Shale of the Col-
the marine shales above are included in the orado Group is overlain by brown silty shales
Pakowki Formation, even though they are that have been correlated with the Gammon
known to pass into non-marine beds farther Ferruginous Member of the Pierre Shale in the
west. Such arbitrary decisions are characteris- Black Hills region (Gill and Cobban 1966,
tically necessary in dealing with the stratigraphy pl. 3 ) . But there are also sandy beds that mark
of regressive deposits. the eastern extension of the Eagle sandstones.
The top of the Judith River Formation con- The pebble bed is present at the contact with
sists of a sequence of lignitic shales and coal the overlying Claggett Formation, but phos-
seams, with beds of oyster shells in places phatic nodules as well as chert pebbles are
(Hearn et al. 1964, p. 17). This closely re- included. There are bentonite beds in the lower
sembles the Lethbridge Coal Member in Al- part of the Claggett Shale, presumably includ-
berta, and permits stratigraphic correlation of ing the equivalent of the Ardmore Bentonite
the top of the Judith River Formation with of South Dakota (Spivey 1940). The Claggett
the top of the Oldman Formation. As to the grades at the top into the Judith River beds,
lower Judith River beds, it is certain that they which are partly marine below but which in the
include equivalents of the Foremost Forma- upper part are similar to those of the badlands
tion and some upper part of the Pakowki in Fergus County.
Formation, but a more precise correlation is An equivalent section is exposed farther

east, in Rosebud County on the north side of ing to the Lower Milk River sandstone in
the Porcupine dome. Here the drab Gammon southern Alberta. The Montana development
shales are without recognizable Eagle equiv- is usually called the Virgelle Sandstone (Steb-
alents. The contact with the overlying Claggett inger 1914), and this usage has been extended
Formation is again marked by a bed with chert by some to Alberta. However, the type Virgelle,
pebbles, but there is great variation in pebble as developed in Chouteau and Fergus Counties,
size and phosphatic nodules are rare. As in the is a very different sandstone, and occurs at the
Mosby anticline, there are conspicuous ben- bottom of the Eagle sequence. A higher sand-
tonite beds in the lower 60 ft (18 m ) of the stone in the Eagle Formation here is much
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Claggett Shale, and the two lowest of these more like the "Virgelle" of northwestern Mon-
are correlated with the Ardmore Bentonite of tana. The latter is the southwestward extension
South Dakota (Gill and Cobban 1966, p. 1 1 ) . of the Lower Milk River sandstone of southern
Above the Claggett Shale the Judith River A1berta.l Above the sandstone the Upper Eagle
Formation has conspicuous sandstone beds, clays and sandstones can be differentiated as
and is of marine deposition throughout (Bowen far as the Claggett Shale persists, but that
1919, p. 15). formation wedges out in the vicinity of Cut
Bank. Farther west, however, there is still a
Southwestern Alberta (Fig. 2 , Section 2 ) conglomerate with chert pebbles, and a distinct
The Montana formations of southwestern tuff deposit which has been correlated with the
Alberta lie on the west side of the Sweetgrass Ardmore Bentonite (Cobban and Gill) .2
Arch. The Milk River Formation outcrops as Recognizable Bearpaw shale extends farther
a continuous belt around the nose of the arch west than the Claggett but disappears west of
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and there is little difference between the west- Augusta. Beyond this there are oyster beds that
ern and eastern developments. The Pakowki may mark the littoral of the Bearpaw sea
and Foremost Formations are poorly exposed. (Cobban and But the entire sequence
The Oldman Formation shows the same light from the top of the Lower Eagle sandstone to
gray bentonitic sands and occasional massive the base of the St. Mary River Formation is
sandstones as on the east. The Lethbridge Coal essentially non-marine, and is grouped together
Member at the top is widely developed and in as the Two Medicine Formation (Stebinger
places includes seams of commercial thickness 1914, p. 63). Even the Horsethief Sandstone,
and quality. The Bearpaw Formation is not as the southern extension of the Blood Reserve
thick as on the east, and includes several con- Sandstone, disappears as a recognizable unit
spicuous sandy members well below the top. in this area. In its westernmost development
Above the Bearpaw Shale is a very massive, the Two Medicine Formation includes large
cliff-forming sandstone called the Blood Re- amounts of volcanic detritus, especially in the
serve Formation. Intercalated shale beds con- upper part (Schmidt 1966), and grades west-
tain fossils that occur well down in the ward into the Elkhorn Mountain Volcanics.
Bearpaw farther east. There is usually an
oyster bed at the top of the Blood Reserve Time Boundaries
Sandstone, but the overlying sandstones and (Fig. 3)
shales of the St. Mary River Formation have
yielded only fresh-water and terrestrial fossils. The Telegraph Creek fauna, characterized
especially by Desmoscaphites bassleri Reeside,
has not been found in Alberta, although it
Northwestern Montana (Fig. 2 , Section 1 )
should be present in the transitional beds below
Northwestward from Chouteau County the
the Milk River sandstone. The term Alberta
marine formations thin rapidly and lose their Shale was originally proposed (Hume 1930)
characteristics, so that the succession becomes to include the rocks of the Colorado Group
very different. The Telegraph Creek Formation ("Benton") plus similar beds containing an
is recognized in Toole County (Cobban 1950)
and west to Glacier National Park. It passes
transitionally above into massive sandstone 'Personal observation.
identical in appearance and mode of weather- 2Personal communication.

1 2 3 4 5

Fox Hills
St. M a r y St. M a r y Fox Hills
River River
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Horsethief - Blood Reserve

Bearpaw Bearpaw Bearpaw

Bearpaw Bearpaw
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Medicine Foremost

Claggett Claggett

Upper M i l k River Upper Eagle

Lower Eagle Lower M i l k River ' Virgelle Gammon

Telegraph Creek
Colorado Colorado Colorado

FIG.3. Time correlation between Montanan formations in southern Alberta and Montana.
Column 1: Toole and Pondera Counties, Montana. Column 2: southwestern Alberta. Column
3: southeastern Alberta. Column 4: Chouteau, Fergus and Blaine Counties, Montana.
Column 5: Petroleum and Garfield Counties, Montana.

early Montanan marine fauna. In the absence ous magnetite in places. It may represent a
of this faunal marker in southern Alberta, the recessive littoral zone, and if so, would be
lowest horizon that may have time significance younger from west to east. However, the
is the top of the Lower Milk River sandstone. absence of channelling at the contact, and of
This is an indurated "cap rock", darker than residual material in the Upper Milk River beds
the sandstone below, and containing titanifer- immediately above the contact suggest that this

represents a subaerial surface developed on basis, as well as the close similarity of the
top of the Milk River delta and on which the faunas in general, a similar age for these sand-
flood-plain and swamp deposits of the Upper stones is highly probable. This correlation is
Milk River were subsequently deposited. In valid whether we regard their development in
this interpretation the surface itself would be Montana as the upper part of the Claggett
of about the same age over a wide area, even Formation or the lower part of the Judith
though the age of the uppermost sandstone River Formation.
bed on which the surface developed might The long time interval represented by the
vary somewhat from place to place. upper part of the Pakowki Formation and the
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The next level of possible time correlation Foremost and Oldman Formations in Alberta,
is at the base of the Pakowki and Claggett and by most of the Judith River Formation in
Formations. The widespread chert pebble bed Montana, does not seem to be divisible on any
at the contact is believed to represent detritus stratigraphic basis. However, the beds at the
on a subaerial surface of Upper Eagle or Upper top of this sequence (Lethbridge Coal Mem-
Milk River sediments, over which the Claggett/ ber) and the contact with the overlying Bear-
Pakowki sea transgressed. If this marine ad- paw Shale have some claim to be regarded as
vance had been slow, the pebble bed, even if of isochronous deposition. Potassium-argon
continuous, would have been progressively dates on the lowermost bentonites in the Bear-
younger from east to west. However, the oc- paw Formation of southern Alberta indicate
currence of bentonite beds in the lower 60 ft little difference in time from east to west
(18 m) of the Claggett and Pakowki Forma- (72-73 m.y.; Folinsbee et al. 1966). Also the
tions (Ardmore Bentonite, etc.) and their guide fossil Baculites compressus say occurs
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absence higher in these formations makes it almost to the bottom of the formation on both
almost certain that the base with its pebble bed sides of the Sweetgrass Arch. The Lethbridge
is of about the same age everywhere. If so, Coal Member appears to be present in Mon-
the marine transgression was rapid, and was tana at the top of the Judith River Formation
followed soon after by a number of heavy tuff on both the north and south sides of the Bear-
falls from eruptions farther west. A sanlple paw Mountains (Stanton and Hatcher 1950,
collected by the writer from the uppermost of pp. 42, 49; Hearn et al. 1964, p. 17). Farther
these Claggett bentonites in Chouteau County to the east and southeast the coaly beds at the
has yielded a potassium-argon. age of 87.4 top of the Judith River Formation are absent,
(k2.9) m . ~ . ~ and two or more ammonite zones are inter-
The lower shales of the Pakowki Formation calated in the marine shales below the Baculites
have yielded ammonite species of diagnostic compressus zone (Jensen and Varnes 1964).
value (Landes 1940), especially Baculites From this it would appear that the Judith
ohtusus Meek and B. mclearni Landes. These River - Bearpaw contact is a time boundary
also occur in the Claggett Shale of Montana in southern Alberta and central Montana, but
and in equivalent beds as far as the Sharon not in eastern Montana.
Springs Member of the Pierre Shale in eastern The top of the Bearpaw Formation is an
Wyoming (Gill and Cobban 1966). The sand- excellent example of a regressive boundary.
stones in the middle of the Pakowki Formation Shale beds in the Blood Reserve Sandstone in
and their counterparts in the top of the Clag- southwestern Alberta have yielded Baculites
gett or base of the Judith River Formations compressus, the typical Bearpaw species. On
contain a rich fauna of marine pelecypods and the east side of the Sweetgrass Arch the Oxarart
gastropods, with widespread species such as Sandstone of southwestern Saskatchewan has
Tancredia americana (Meek and Hayden) and been equated with the Blood Reserve Sand-
Ostrea russelli Landes. The latter seems to have stone (Folinsbee et al. 1966, p. 169), and
a restricted stratigraphic range, and on this there are about 190 ft (58 m ) of Bearpaw
beds above this member (Russell 1948, p. 18).
3Geochron Laboratories, Cambridge, Mass., De- Similarly in Montana the upper part of the
cember 31, 1969. Bearpaw Formation on the east includes at

1 least three ammonite zones that are replaced which has the same name in both countries,
by the Horsethief Sandstone and the St. Mary there are sufficient differences in lithology and
! River beds on the west. time range to justify retention of the local
The decrease in age of the uppermost Bear- names at present. Where these differences are
paw beds from west to east has a corollary; not great, and it is desirable to have a term
the overlying transitional beds are also pro- that is applicable in both Alberta and Mon-
gressively younger eastward. In southeastern tana, compound names such as Eagle/Mik
Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan the River and Claggett/Pakowki oould be used.
fine-grained sandstones of the Eastend Forma- The desirable end is that the physical and
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tion pass upward into the white sands and chronological relationships be clearly under-
clays of the Whitemud Formation and they in stood. This is all that is needed for the recon-
turn into the dark gray clays of the Battle struction of the geological history for this part
Formation. This sequence resembles that of of the Cretaceous Period in this part of North
eastern Montana and the Dakotas, where the America.
fine-grained sands and silty clays of the "typ-
ical" Fox Hills Formation are overlain by the Acknowledgments
white, clayey Colgate Sandstone. Recent work To W. A. Cobban and J. R. Gill of the
by Waage (1968) has shown that the Colgate United States Geological Survey I am indebted
Sandstone is a lithofacies rather than a distinct not only for the opportunity to see critical
stratigraphic unit, so that correlation between sections in Montana under expert guidance,
the Colgate and the Whitemud Formation is but also for consultation in person and by cor-
uncertain. But this problem lies outside the respondence, and for the provision of maps
For personal use only.

scope of the present paper. and stratigraphic and paleogeographic data.

II Conclusions
While acknowledging gratefully this generous
help, I hasten to assume full responsibility for
the conclusions of the present paper, with some
The Montanan formations of southern Al- of which my American colleagues may dis-
berta and various parts of Montana make up agree. During the three seasons of field work,
a series of alternations of marine and non- 1967 to 1969, I was assisted by Mrs. Russell
marine deposits that are deceptively similar. and by John E. Storer. In 1968 I also had the
The more obvious differences are along east- help of Paul Ramaekers. This investigation
west alignments and are mainly the results of was part of a broad project for Cretaceous
slow and oscillatory regressions of the sea. and Tertiary correlation, made possible by
North-south differences are less pronounced National Research Council of Canada Grant
and represent irregularities in the advancing NO. A-2685.
or retreating shore line, or local deltaic deposi-
By combining the evidence of ammonite BOWEN, C. F. 1914. The Big Sandy coal field,
Chouteau County, Montana. United States Geol.
succession, distribution of bentonite beds, and Surv. Bull. 541, pp. 356-378.
potassium-argon dates, it is possible to recog- 1915. The stratigraphy of the Montana
nize several isochronous horizons or zones Group, with special reference to the position
throughout much or all of the region. Applica- and age of the Judith River Formation in north-
tion of these time data to the lithological central Montana. United States Geol. Surv. Prof.
Paper 90-1, pp. 95-153.
sequence reinforces the concept of rapid marine 1919. Gradations from continental to marine
transgressions followed by slow and oscillatory conditions of deposition in central Montana
regressions (Russell 1939). during the Eagle and Judith River epochs. United
Reform of the stratigraphic nomenclature to States Geol. Surv. Prof. Paper 12544 pp. 11-21.
achieve a uniform terminology for the Mon- COBBAN, W. A. 1950. Telegraph Creek Formation of
Sweetgrass Arch, north-central Montana. Bull.
tanan formations on both sides of the Interna- Amer. Petrol. Geol. 34, pp. 1899-1900.
tional Boundary does not appear justified at DOWLING, D. B. 1917. The southern plains of Al-
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