Unit Name: Whitemud Formation
Unit Type: Lithostratigraphic
Rank: Formation
Status: Formal
Usage: Currently in use
Age Interval: Maastrichtian (70.6 - 65.5 ma)
Age Justification: The Whitemud Formation has yielded abundant coprolites and casts of vertebrate intestines (Broughton et al., 1978; Broughton, 1981).
Province/Territory: Alberta; Saskatchewan

Originator: Davis, N.B., 1918, p. 9.

Type Locality:
Kupsch, W.O. (1956); Dempster's clay pit northwest of Eastend, Saskatchewan, in Lsd. 3, Sec. 6, Twp. 7, Rge. 21W3M.

Traceable through southern Saskatchewan, southeastern Alberta and south-central Alberta. In southern Saskatchewan the total thickness varies from 23 m (75 ft) in the Eastend area to 4 m (13 ft) at Beechy, but the decrease is not uniform; northeast and southeast of Eastend the thickness has been reduced, or the formation has been removed altogether by erosion prior to deposition of the Frenchman Formation (Kupsch, 1956). In the Alberta part of the Cypress Hills the Whitemud is 8 m (26 ft) thick, but in the Oldman-Athabasca River region, where only one zone of the Whitemud is present, and where the lower contact is hard to define the thickness is from 2 m to 6 m (7 to 20 ft) (Irish, 1970). In the subsurface of Saskatchewan clearly identifiable Whitemud Formation has been recognized only in holes close to known areas of Whitemud outcrop (Whitaker et al., 1978).

In southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta McLearn et al. (1935) described four distinct lithologic zones in the Whitemud, but Furnival (1946) assigned the uppermost zone to the Battle Formation. The Whitemud Formation now is divided into three zones: a lower, grey to white, feldspathic, kaolinitic, medium- to fine-grained sand with cross-bedding; a middle zone of brown, fissile, carbonaceous shale, grey shaly silts and clay, with thin lignite beds and brown or grey kaolinitic sandstones; and an uppermost zone of white kaolinitic clay, grey mauve, and purple clays and silts, with white, kaolinitic sandy clays in places. In the Red Deer River-Oldman River area of Alberta this three-fold subdivision is not recognizable and the formation consists of white weathering, light grey argillaceous sand with cross-bedding, interbedded with white to cream weathering, silty and sandy clay.

Parent Edmonton Group. In Saskatchewan and the Cypress Hills region of Alberta the Whitemud Formation conformably overlies yellowish sands of the Eastend with gradational contact. In southern Saskatchewan the lowermost zone of the Whitemud grades laterally into the upper part of the Eastend Formation (Kupsch, 1956). In the Drumheller region the lower contact is apparently conformable and gradational with grey and greenish grey shales of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation. On Oldman River the Whitemud overlies conformably grey green shale of the St. Mary River Formation. In southern Saskatchewan and the Cypress Hills of Alberta the Whitemud is overlain with a sharp contact by the Battle or Frenchman formations. Normally the contact with the purple clay of the Battle Formation is quite distinct and considered to be conformable, but Kupsch (1956) suggested that, in at least some parts of southern Saskatchewan the contact is a disconformity. Where overlain by the Frenchman Formation the contact clearly is unconformable. In western and south-central Alberta the Whitemud is overlain abruptly, and presumably conformably by the Battle Formation, or has suffered erosional truncation or even removal before deposition of sands of the Palaeocene Paskapoo Formation. As part of the "Kneehills Tuff Zone" (Irish and Havard, 1968) the Whitemud Formation can be traced over most or southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. It has been correlated with the Colgate sandstone (Fox Hills) of Montana and North Dakota, but Whitaker et al. (1978) question this correlation because of differences in type of clay minerals.

Considered part of the Eocene (Fort Union) by Davis (1918). McLearn (1929a) postulated that, in the area of Eastend, Saskatchewan there was the "Whitemud in the strict sense..." which was of Lance or pre-Lance age, and that in the area around Willowbunch, Saskatchewan there was the Whitemud zone which was Palaeocene and should be designated as the "... buff or third division of the Ravenscrag...". Later he designated the Palaeocene "Whitemud" as the "Willowbunch Member of the Ravenscrag Formation" (McLearn, 1930). The definitions of the boundaries of the Whitemud Formation have changed through time; Fraser et al. (1935) recognized four zones in the Whitemud Formation, but Furnival (1946) renamed the uppermost of these zones the Battle Formation. In south-central Alberta equivalents of the Whitemud Formation have been designated as: the lower part of the Kneehills Tuff Zone (Allan and Sanderson, 1945); the lower part of Member D of the Edmonton Formation (Ower, 1960); and the Whitemud Member of the Edmonton Formation (Srivastava, 1968). Irish (1968, 1970) raised the status of the Whitemud of south-central Alberta to that of a formation and part of the renamed Edmonton Group.

Other Citations:
Allan and Sanderson, 1945; Broughton, 1981; Broughton et al., 1978; Davis, 1918; Fraser et al., 1935; Furnival, 1946; Irish, 1968, 1970; Irish and Havard, 1968; Kupsch, 1956; McLearn 1929a, 1930; McLearn et al., 1935; Ower, 1960; Srivastava, 1968; Whitaker et al., 1978.

Allan, J.A. and Sanderson, J.O.G., 1945. Geology of Red Deer and Rosebud sheets, Alberta, Res. Counc. Alberta Rept. 13.
Broughton, P.L., 1981. Casts of vertebrate internal organs from the Whitemud Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of southern Saskatchewan. Geol. Assoc. Can., Ann. Meeting Calgary. Abst., v 6, p. A-6.
Broughton, P.L., Simpson, F., and Whitaker, S.H., 1978. Late Cretaceous coprolites from western Canada. Palaeontology, v. 21, p. 443-453.
Davis, N.B., 1918. Report on the clay resources of southern Saskatchewan; Canada, Department of Mines, Mines Branch, Report 468, 93 p.
Fraser, F.J., McLearn, F.H., Russell, L.S., Warren, P.S., and Wickenden, R.T.D., 1935, Geology of southern Saskatchewan, Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir 176, 137 pp.
Furnival, G.M., 1946. Cypress Lake map-area, Saskatchewan; Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir 242, 161 p. contains "A" Series Map 784A, Cypress Lake, West of Third Meridian, Saskatchewan, Scale: 1:253 440 or 1 Inch to 4 Miles and "A" Series Map 856A, Structure-Contours, Cypress Lake, West of Third Meridian, Saskatchewan, Structure-contour interval 50 feet, Scale: 1:253 440 or 1 Inch to 4 Miles.
Irish, E.J.W. and Havard, C.J., 1968. The Whitemud and Battle formations ("Kneehills tuff zone"); A stratigraphic marker. Geol. Surv. Can., Paper 67-63.
Irish, E.J.W., 1970. The Edmonton Group of south-central Alberta; Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG), Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, vol. 18, no. 2 (June), pp. 125-155.
Kupsch, W.O., 1956. Geology of eastern Cypress Hills (Knollys and Dollard Quadrangles), Saskatchewan; Saskatchewan Department of Mineral Resources, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Saskatchewan Industry and Resources (SIR) Report no. 20, 30 pages, 1 table, 6 plates, 1 figure, 4 geological maps, Scale: 1:50 000, in pocket.
McLearn et al., 1935
McLearn, F.H., 1929a. Southern Saskatchewan; Geological Survey of Canada, Summary Report 1928, Part B, pp. 30-45.
Ower, J.R., 1960. The Edmonton Formation. J. Alberta Soc. Petrol. Geol., v. 8, p. 309-323.
Srivastava, S.K., 1968. Angiospernnic microflora of the Edmonton Formation, Alberta Unpub. Ph.D. thesis, Univ. Alberta.
Whitaker, S.H., Broughton, P.L., and Irvine, J.A., 1978. Coal resources of southern Saskatchewan: A model for evaluation methodology; Geological Survey of Canada, Econ. Geol. Rept. 30, Sask. Dept. Min. Res., Rept. 209, Sask. Res. Counc, Rept. 20.

Source: CSPG Lexicon of Canadian Stratigraphy, Volume 4, western Canada, including eastern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba; D.J. Glass (editor)
Contributor: H.E. Hendry
Entry Reviewed: Yes
Name Set: Lithostratigraphic Lexicon
LastChange: 26 Jan 2009