Tremadocian (Lower Ordovician) Biotas and Sea-level Changes on the Avalon Microcontinent

TitleTremadocian (Lower Ordovician) Biotas and Sea-level Changes on the Avalon Microcontinent
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsLanding, E, Fortey, RA
JournalJournal of Paleontology
KeywordsAvalon, Bathysiphon, brachiopods, Cape Breton Island, chitinozoans, conodonts, Lower Ordovician, sea-levels, Tremadocian, trilobites

The Chesley Drive Group, an Upper Cambrian–Lower Ordovician mudstone-dominated unit, is part of the Ediacaran–Ordovician cover sequence on the North American part of the Avalon microcontinent. The upper Chesley Drive Group on McLeod Brook, Cape Breton Island (previously “McLeod Brook Formation”), has two lithofacies-specific Tremadocian biotas. An older low-diversity benthic assemblage (shallow burrowers, Bathysiphon, phosphatic brachiopods, asaphid trilobites) is in lower upper Tremadocian green-gray mudstone. This wave-influenced, slightly dysoxic facies has Bathysiphon–brachiopod shell lags in ripple troughs. The upper fauna (ca. 483 +/− 1 Ma) is in dysoxic-anoxic (d-a), unburrowed, dark gray-black, upper upper (but not uppermost) Tremadocian mudstone with a “mass kill” of the olenid Peltocare rotundifrons (Matthew)—a provincial trilobite in Avalonian North America that likely tolerated low oxygen bottom waters. Scandodus avalonensis Landing n. sp. and Lagenochitina aff. conifundus (Poumot), probable nektic elements and the first upper Tremadocian conodont and chitinozoan reported from Avalon, occur in diagenetic calcareous nodules in the dark gray–black mudstone. An upper Tremadocian transition from lower greenish to upper black mudstone is not exposed on McLeod Brook, but is comparable to a coeval green-black mudstone transition in Avalonian England. The successions suggest that late late Tremadocian (probable Baltic Hunnebergian Age) sea level was higher in Avalon than is suggested from successions on other paleocontinents. The Tremadocian sea-level history of Avalon was a shoaling–deepening–shoaling sequence from d-a black mudstone (lower Tremadocian), to dysoxic green mudstone (lower upper Tremadocian), and back to black mudstone (upper upper Tremadocian).

Scandodus Lindström is emended, with the early species S. avalonensis Landing n. sp. assigned to the emended Family Protopanderodontidae. Triangulodus Van Wamel is considered a junior synonym of Scandodus. Peltocare rotundifrons is emended on the basis of complete specimens.