US Geological Survey


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Published in JOURNAL OF SEDIMENTARY PETROLOGY, VOL. 57, NO. 4, JULY, 1987, P. 587-601.


The lower Eocene Willwood Formation of the Bighorn Basin, northwest Wyoming, consists of about 770 m of alluvial rocks that exhibit extensive mechanical and geochemical modifications resulting from Eocene pedogenesis. Willwood paleosols vary considerably in their relative degrees of maturity; maturity is defined as stage of development as a function of the amount of time required to form. Five arbitrary stages are proposed to distinguish these soils of different maturities in the Willwood Formation. Stage 1 soils, the least mature, are entisols; stage 2 and stage 3 soils are intermediate in maturity and are probably alfisols; and stage 4 and stage 5 soils, the most mature, are spodosols. These stages are not only time-progressive elements of an in situ maturation sequence for Willwood soil formation, but, in the lateral dimension, they are also usually distributed sequentially.