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Provenance and depositional framework of braided and meandering gravel-bed river deposits and associated coal deposits in active intermontane piggyback basins: The Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous Tantalus Formation, Yukon

The Tantalus Formation developed within confined intermontane river valleys during the late stages of collision and amalgamation of Stikinia and associated arc systems with the North American plate in Upper Jurassic and early Lower Cretaceous times. While most of the extensive chert pebble conglomerate in the Tantalus Formation can be interpreted as shallow braided gravel-bed river deposits, some may represent the products of deposition from deeper, braided and meandering gravel-bed rivers. Floodplain and lake deposits are restricted to poorly exposed slope forming intervals. Coal deposits developed locally on abandoned segments of floodplains in confined river valleys, in places associated with high constructive river deposits. The age profiles of detrital zircons indicate major contributions from reworking of older strata, combined with continued un-roofing of the Stikine terrane. In addition more distal sources were tapped in the Yukon-Tanana and adjacent terranes to the north and west of the Whitehorse trough. Much of the chert in the Tantalus Formation appears petrographically similar to chert in the Cache Creek terrane, now preserved only to the south of the Whitehorse trough. As both decrease in maximum grain size, and paleocurrents, are generally south to southwesterly trending, this source is considered unlikely. Chert may have been derived from now eroded supracrustal rocks that once formed the top of the Yukon-Tanana terrane, or more likely from an obducted block of Cache Creek terrane once present to the north and west of the Whitehorse trough. The latter may have been thrust over metamorphosed rocks of the Yukon-Tanana terrane beginning in the early Bajocian, and has subsequently been removed by erosion. A proximal North American cratonic source is excluded, as there are no Archean zircon grains in the Tantalus Formation. The possibility that strata of the Tantalus Formation may host significant conventional reserves of oil or gas is very low, due to lack of trapping mechanisms. There may be some undiscovered coal reserves, and limited potential for coal-bed methane production.

Data and Resources

Release Date
Homepage URL
Temporal Coverage
Wednesday, December 31, 1969 - 16:00
Public Access Level
Energy, Mines and Resources
Publication type
Additional Info: 

Document Type

Open File (Geological - Bedrock)


105D03, 105D04, 105D06, 105D11, 105E05, 105E07, 105E14, 105E15, 115H08, 115I01

Year Published


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