INTERMONTANE VALLEY AND BASIN DEVELOPMENT LINKED TO THE TECTONIC, CLIMATIC, AND TOPOGRAPHIC EVOLUTION OF THE SEVIER-LARAMIDE OVERLAP ZONE IN SOUTHWESTERN MONTANA
Continued studies of the Renova Formation have revealed a complex series of interrelated tectonic, topographic, and climatic events that led to decay of the northern Cordillera. Regional, kilometer-scale elevation gain coupled with subtropical climatic conditions resulted in deep exhumation of the orogenic wedge during Paleocene-early Eocene time. Significant fluvial incision occurred along zones of tectonostratigraphic weakness, generating deep (≥2 km relief), elongate, intermontane paleovalleys that paralleled regional structure and served as long-lived sedimentary basins during Cenozoic time. Beginning in mid-Eocene time, lithologic data indicate the presence of a significant rain shadow across the region. Continued climatic aridification was accompanied by widespread sedimentation. Late Eocene-Oligocene crustal extension, focused west of the Sevier thrust front, beheaded parts of the mid-Eocene drainage network and formed small, enclosed basins on top of the fold-thrust belt. A through-going drainage network persisted east of the thrust front through Miocene time. Subsequent Neogene Basin and Range- and Yellowstone hotspot-related extension further reactivated and modified the Cenozoic landscape.