Carbon isotope (δ13Ccarb) stratigraphy of the Lower–Middle Ordovician (Tremadocian–Darriwilian) in the Great Basin, western United States: implications for global correlation
Edwards et al
New stable carbon isotope data (δ13Ccarb) from Lower–Middle Ordovician (Tremadocian to Darriwilian) carbonate mudstone and wackestone rocks of the Pogonip Group are presented from two sections in the Great Basin region (USA) - Shingle Pass (east–central Nevada) and the Ibex area (western Utah). The Pogonip Group is a succession of mixed carbonate and siliciclastic rocks that accumulated on a carbonate ramp under normal marine conditions during the Late Cambrian (Furongian) to Middle Ordovician (Darriwilian). The Shingle Pass and Ibex area sections have been previously studied for their conodont biostratigraphy and contain a North American Midcontinent conodont fauna that range from the Cordylodus intermedius Zone (uppermost Cambrian) to the Phragmodus polonicus Zone (Darriwilian). The δ13C trend has four distinct characteristics recognized in both Great Basin sections: 1) a drop in δ13C from + 1‰ at the base of the Ordovician (Tremadocian) to -0.7‰, 2) a 1 to 2‰ positive δ13C shift in the uppermost Rossodus manitouensis Zone during the late Tremadocian, 3) a gradual δ13C increase from -2‰ to ca. 0‰ during the end of the Early Ordovician (Floian), and 4) a steady δ13C decrease from 0‰ to -4 to -5‰ during Middle Ordovician (Dapingian–Darriwilian).
In the Lower Ordovician, δ13C trends reported here from the Great Basin are not consistent with a causal mechanism involving sea level change and the migration of isotopically distinct water bodies. Instead, these Lower Ordovician isotope data most likely reflect primary seawater chemistry and changes in δ13C on a global scale. This interpretation is supported by the excellent correlation of δ13C in the Lower Ordovician to other δ13C trends reported from the sections in the Argentine Precordillera (La Silla and San Juan formations) and in western Newfoundland (St. George and Table Head groups). These correlations using δ13C are consistent with published biostratigraphic data and provide an integrated and high-resolution chemo-biostratigraphic framework for the Lower Ordovician sedimentary record of the Laurentian margin. The Middle Ordovician portion of the δ13C curves in the Great Basin represented by the Kanosh and Lehman formations shows significant isotopic depletion relative to the section in Argentina. Thus, although there is some indication that minima and maxima in the Middle Ordovician curves can be correlated, the Great Basin sections show clear evidence of overprinting by local variables related to both diagenesis (dolomitization) and platform restriction.