Sedimentary tectonics of the Mesoproterozoic Lahood Formation, southwest Montana

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The LaHood Formation plays a critical role in constraining the sources and tectonic setting during the initial stages of formation of the Mesoproterozoic Belt Basin, particularly in the Helena Embayment. In the Bridger Range the LaHood Formation is composed of coarse conglomerates, lithic arkoses, calcareous shales and siliceous shales. Twelve measured stratigraphic sections show a general fining to the northeast with calcareous shales exposed only in the northern half of the Range. Lithology provides the basis for the LaHood Formation to be divided into three Members: A) conglomerate; B) lithic arkose and sandy micaceous shale; C) interbedded Member B with calcareous and siliceous shales that are interpreted as correlative rocks of the upper Newland Formation. U-Pb ages of detrital zircons (LA-ICP-MS) from four sandstones show: 1) The basal conglomerate and coarse arkosic facies in the lower and southern two sections have a primary age distribution at ~3.2 Ga with a minor ~3.5 Ga component that corresponds to the major TTG crust-forming event in the northern Wyoming Province; 2) zircons from an arkosic sandstone inter-fingered with calcareous shales have a dominant ~3.2 Ga signal, but includes a significant secondary concentration at 2.8 Ga, which corresponds to the age of the Beartooth-Bighorn Magmatic Zone; 3) the northernmost section exhibits a concentration near 3.2 Ga, a more significant ~2.8 Ga signal, and the first occurrence of ~1.8 Ga grains, indicative of the Great Falls Tectonic Zone. These detrital zircon ages confirm the results of Guerrero et al. (2015) in the Bridger Range and from LaHood exposures in the Horseshoe Hills to the west, but differ significantly from the dominant 3.4-3.5 Ga signal from LaHood exposures in Jefferson Canyon and north of Cardwell, MT (Ross and Villeneuve, 2003; Mueller et al., 2016). Collectively, the detrital zircon ages demonstrate a) occurrences of the LaHood Formation across the Belt Basin received sediment from temporally distinct sources that do not necessarily include proximal Archean basement, and b) the stratigraphic succession reflects contributions from progressively younger source areas. The significant variety of ages and abrupt facies changes in the LaHood Formation support a series of compartmentalized sub basins.




Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.