The stratigraphic relationship between the Shuram carbon isotope excursion, the oxygenation of Neoproterozoic oceans, and the first appearance of the Ediacara biota and bilaterian trace fossils in northwestern Canada

Francis A. Macdonald, Justin V. Strauss, Erik A. Sperling, Galen P. Halverson, Guy M. Narbonne, David T. Johnston, Marcus Kunzmann, Daniel P. Schrag, John Andrew Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

A mechanistic understanding of relationships between global glaciation, a putative second rise in atmospheric oxygen, the Shuram carbon isotope excursion, and the appearance of Ediacaran-type fossil impressions and bioturbation is dependent on the construction of accurate geological records through regional stratigraphic correlations. Here we integrate chemo-, litho-, and sequence-stratigraphy of fossiliferous Ediacaran strata in northwestern Canada. These data demonstrate that the FAD of Ediacara-type fossil impressions in northwestern Canada occur within a lowstand systems tract and above a major sequence boundary in the informally named June beds, not in the early Ediacaran Sheepbed Formation from which they were previously reported. This distinction is substantiated by δ13Ccarb chemostratigraphy of the Sheepbed carbonate, which overlies the Sheepbed Formation, and the Gametrail Formation, which overlies the June beds. The Sheepbed carbonate hosts heavy δ13Ccarb values whereas the Gametrail Formation contains a large δ13Ccarb excursion, which we correlate with the globally recognized Shuram excursion. Stratigraphically above the Gametrail excursion, the first bilaterian burrows are present in the basal Blueflower Formation. Together, these data allow us to construct an age model for Ediacaran strata in northwestern Canada and conclude that a purported shift in Fe speciation in the Sheepbed Formation significantly predates the shift recorded above the ca. 582Ma Gaskiers glaciation in Newfoundland and the first appearance of Ediacaran biota.The Gametrail excursion shares many characteristics with Shuram negative δ13Ccarb excursion: 1) δ13Ccarb and δ18Ocarb covary; 2) δ13Ccarb and δ13Corg do not covary; 3) the excursion is developed during a transgressive systems tract and recovers in an highstand systems tract; and 4) values in some sections are well below mantle δ13C input values but are variable between sections. We relate regional lateral variability in the magnitude and character of this excursion to condensation and diachronous deposition during the transgression and local authigenic carbonate production. In light of these observations, we explore a variety of models for the genesis of the Shuram excursion and suggest that the location and amount of authigenic carbonate production played a role in the excursion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-272
Number of pages23
JournalChemical Geology
Volume362
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 20 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

Keywords

  • Carbon-isotope
  • Ediacaran
  • Fe-speciation
  • Shuram
  • Trace fossils
  • Windermere

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