Hell Creek Formation

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Hell Creek Formation
Stratigraphic range: MaastrichtianDanian, 66.8–66 Ma
Hell Creek.jpg
Exposure in the badlands near Fort Peck Reservoir
TypeGeological formation
UnderliesFort Union Formation
OverliesFox Hills Formation
PrimaryClaystone, mudstone
RegionMontana, North Dakota,
South Dakota, Wyoming
Type section
Named forHell Creek, Jordan, Montana
Map of the Hell Creek and Lance formations in western North America

The Hell Creek Formation is a series of rocks where fossil dinosaurs are found. The strata are mostly Upper Cretaceous and some lower Paleocene rocks in North America.

The name comes from Hell Creek, near Jordan, Montana. The formation includes portions of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

It is a series of fresh and brackish-water clays, mudstones, and sandstones deposited during the end of the Cretaceous period and the beginning of the Palaeogene. It was laid down by fluvial activity in river channels and deltas and occasional peaty swamp deposits. All this was along the low-lying eastern continental margin fronting the late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway.

The climate was mild, and the presence of crocodilians suggests a sub-tropical climate, with no prolonged annual cold. The famous iridium-enriched Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary, which separates the Cretaceous from the Cenozoic, occurs as a distinct thin marker bedding above and occasionally within the formation, near its boundary with the overlying Fort Union Formation.

The world's largest collection of Hell Creek fossils is housed and exhibited at the Museum of the Rockies, in Bozeman, Montana. The specimens displayed are the result of the museum's Hell Creek Project, a joint effort between the museum, Montana State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of North Dakota and the University of North Carolina which began in 1998.

The fossils discovered include all types of late Cretceous dinosaurs, fish, amphibia, mammals (Multituberculates, Metatheria and Eutheria), and other reptiles turtles, crocodylomorphs, squamata (snakes & lizards).

Dinosaur paleofauna[change | change source]

References[change | change source]