Unit Name: Waterways Formation
Unit Type: Lithostratigraphic
Rank: Formation
Status: Formal
Usage: Currently in use
Age Interval: Givetian - Frasnian (391.8 - 374.5 ma)
Province/Territory: Alberta

Originator: Warren, 1933.

Type Locality:
The banks of the Clearwater and Athabasca rivers at their confluence, near Fort McMurray and Waterways in northeastern Alberta. Standard Subsurface Reference Section: Bear Biltmore No. 1 well, in Lsd. 7, Sec. 11, Twp. 87, Rge. 17W4M, between 299 and 513 m (981 and 1,682 ft).

The Waterways Formation is about 213 m (700 ft) thick in the McMurray area, 120 to 150 m (400 to 500 ft) in the Sturgeon-Mitsue area and 6 to 230 m (20 to 750 ft) in the Swan Hills area. It is a basin filling, open-marine transgressive sequence. The formation is widespread from central to northern Alberta. It is partially eroded in the subcrop areas of eastern Alberta and limited by the Beaverhill Lake carbonate shelves of southern and western Alberta.

Locality Data:
WELL 100071108717W400; BEAR-BILTMORE NO 1. Thickness(m): Minimum 6, Maximum 230. Interval(m): From 299, To 513.

In the Fort McMurray area the Waterways Formation consists of a sequence of 9 greenish grey to olive-green and brownish grey calcareous shales and argillaceous limestones a alternating with fine to cryptograined and, in places highly fossiliferous limestones. The formation is rich in fossil content, which is dominated by brachiopods, corals and ostracods. The Firebag Member at the base, an olive-green shaly unit is overlain by the Calmut Member, a medium grey-brown, thinly bedded limestone unit. The Christina Member consists mainly of greenish grey and buff argillaceous limestones and shales. The overlying Moberly Member is mostly limestone, medium grey weathering to a light orange-brown, argillaceous and fossiliferous, and the uppermost Mildred Member is a green-grey and buff argillaceous limestone unit with some shale.

The Waterways Formation in its type area overlies disconformably the Livock River Formation, a thin limestone unit of late Middle Devonian age considered to be a Slave Point equivalent and is overlain conformably by the light colored limestones of the Cooking Lake Formation of Upper Devonian age, i.e., the basal unit of the Woodbend Group. In west-central Alberta the Waterways Formation encloses organic buildups of the Swan Hills Formation. Equivalents are: the Beaverhill Lake Formation of central and northern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia; parts of the lower Hay River and upper Horn River formations of the southwestern Northwest Territories; Flume Formation (in part) of the Rocky Mountains of west-central Alberta; and, approximately the Souris River Formation of south-central Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba.

Crickmay (1957) divided the Waterways Formation into five Members: Firebag, Calmut (Calumet), Christina, Moberly and Mildred; in 1963 Norris designated the Bear Biltmore No. 1 well as the standard reference section for the Waterways Formation. Murray (1965) proposed that the off-reef shales of the upper Beaverhill Lake Unit (Fong, 1959, 1960) in the Swan Hills area of west-central Alberta be referred to as the Waterways Formation because of their greater similarity to that type section than to the Beaverhill Lake type section. Leavitt and Fischbuch (1968) formalized the nomenclature in the Swan Hills area by raising the Beaverhill Lake to group status, comprising the Fort Vermilion, Swan Hills and Waterways Formations.

Other Citations:
Belyea, 1952; Braun, 1967; Crickmay, 1957; Fischbuch, 1968; Fong, 1959, 1960; Hemphill, Smith and Szabo, 1970; Jansa and Fischbuch, 1974; Leavitt and Fischbuch, 1968; Norris, 1963; Sheasby, 1971; Uyeno, 1967, Warren, 1933.

Crickmay, C.H., 1957. Elucidation of some Western Canada Devonian Formations; published by the author, Imperial Oil Limited, Calgary, Alberta, 14 p.
Fong, G., 1959. Type section Swan Hills Member of the Beaverhill Lake Formation, Alberta Journal of the Alberta Society of Petroleum Geologists, vol. 7, pp. 95-108.
Fong, George, 1960. Geology of Devonian Beaverhill Lake Formation, Swan Hills area, Alberta, Canada, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), AAPG Bulletin, vol. 44 (February), pp. 195-209.
Leavitt, E.M. and Fischbuch, N.R., 1968. Devonian nomenclatural changes, Swan Hills area, Alberta, Canada; Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG), Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, vol. 16, no. 3 (September), pp. 288-297.
Murray, J.W., 1965a, Stratigraphy and carbonate petrology of the Waterways Formation, Judy Creek, Alberta, Canada, In: Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, v. 13, p. 303-326
Warren, P.S., 1933. The age of the Devonian limestone at McMurray, Alberta. Can. Field Naturalist, v. 47, no. 8, p. 148-149.

Source: CSPG Lexicon of Canadian Stratigraphy, Volume 4, western Canada, including eastern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba; D.J. Glass (editor)
Contributor: I. Weihmann
Entry Reviewed: Yes
Name Set: Lithostratigraphic Lexicon
LastChange: 04 Feb 2009