Nodular silcretes of the Cypress Hills Formation (upper Eocene to middle Miocene) of southern Saskatchewan, Canada



Siliceous nodules in the upper Eocene to middle Miocene Cypress Hills Formation in southern Saskatchewan formed on the distal portions of an extensive braidplain. The nodules are similar to silcretes described elsewhere in the literature but their morphology and occurrence suggests that they are of a rare variety. The silcretes are discrete equant to disc-shaped nodules, 1–3 cm thick, and up to 15 cm long. The silicretes form horizontal, discontinous layers parallel to bedding within an unweathered profile. Void spaces and fractures within the nodules are lined or filled with drusy quartz. The silcretes contain less than 0.07% TiO2. The TiO2/SiO2/Al2O3 and TiO2/SiO2/Fe2O3 ratios are similar to values obtained from nodules formed in an arid to semi-arid environment based on comparison with modern silcretes. This interpretation is confirmed by independent sedimentological and palaeontological climatic evidence for an arid to semi-arid climate throughout Oligocene time in the western Canadian plains.