Facies and origin of shales from the mid-Proterozoic Newland Formation, Belt Basin, Montana, USA



Shales constitute more than 60% of the world's sediments, yet while facies models for sandstones and carbonates are at a high level of sophistication, the study of shales has clearly lagged behind. In the mid-Proterozoic Newland Formation six major shale facies types, deposited in nearshore to basinal environments, are distinguished on the basis of bedding characteristics, textural features, and the proportions of silt, clay and carbonate. Textural features of these shale types are related to sedimentary environments as deduced from associated lithologies. The shales are undisturbed by bioturbation, and their textural and sedimentary characteristics reflect subaqueous growth of microbial mats, erosion and deposition by storms, deposition of flocculated vs. dispersed clays, continuous slow background sedimentation, winnowing by waves or currents, and subaerial exposure.