2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


HUNT, ReBecca K., Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center, Glacier National Park, P.O. Box 42, West Glacier, MT 59936, rebecca.k.hunt@gmail.com

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in northwestern Montana and southwestern Alberta holds significant geological and paleontological resources. The Proterozoic sedimentary rocks exposed by the Lewis Overthrust span an area over 2,100 meters of stratigraphic thickness, representing 800 million years of deposition. The glacial carving of the mountains and valleys that began 1.6 million years ago have left outcrops that are strangely unaltered.

While the geological resources of the park have been substantially researched, the paleontological studies have been more sporadic. Precambrian formations of the Belt Supergroup hold a record of abundant ancient life, such as microbialites and eucaryotes. There are also interesting possibilities for the sedimentary rock of the Cretaceous, Tertiary and Quaternary that are preserved within the park. The fossils of bivalves, gastropods, ammonites, vertebrates and plant material have been reported from these deposits. These younger units are largely overlooked, rarely studied and poorly mapped.

Stromatolites within the parks were first recognized by Walcott in 1906. They have subsequently been studied in detail by the Fenton's in the 1930's, Rezak and Ross in the 1950's and to a great extent by Horodyski from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Current research has being conducted on Tertiary Kishenehn Formation and associated vertebrate fossils, a eukaryote Horodyskia moniliformis from the Precambrian Appekunny Formation, and on the cone- and branching-shaped stromatolites of the Precambrian Siyeh Formation. These works yielded a great deal of knowledge to the paleontological history of the park but many more questions exist. Future explorations lie in the morphometric attributes, macrostructures, and environmental conditions of the local stromatolites. Detailed study of the separate units within the park could also prove useful in the further search for fossil.

Overall, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park holds a wealth of paleontological research possibilities. The opportunity to learn more about the Precambrian, Cretaceous, Tertiary and Quaternary fauna and environmental conditions offers a glimpse into a wider ecological and biological window of an immense time span on the North American continent.