Date of Award:

12-2011

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Geology

Advisor/Chair:

W. David Liddell

Abstract

The Middle Cambrian Spence Shale Member of the Langston Formation of northern Utah and southern Idaho is a fossil-rich unit that exhibits distinct cyclicity at the parasequence (meter) scale. At least seven discrete, shallowing-upwards parasequences, or cycles, can be found at the Miners Hollow and Antimony Canyon localities, each composed of calcareous shale capped by limestone. Within each cycle and within the member as a whole, predictable patterns of faunal distribution are evident. Sampling and identification of fossils from two localities have revealed that observed changes in fauna track changes in sea level throughout the section. Through cluster and principal components analyses it has been determined that those rocks of the Spence Shale representing a transgressive systems tract are home to a particular community of organisms, while those rocks of the highstand systems tract are home to another. It logically follows that the rocks of the transgressive tract represent a distinct biofacies, while those of the highstand tract represent another. The transgressive biofacies is composed of species such as agnostid and oryctocephalid trilobites and inarticulate brachiopods that are commonly found in deeper ramp settings. The highstand biofacies is distinguished by such taxa as Zacanthoides and other larger trilobite genera such as Glossopleura and Kootenia, and the eocrinoid Gogia, among others. The difference in ramp position between the Miners Hollow and Antimony Canyon localities implies a water depth gradient, with Antimony Canyon representing shallower water and Miners Hollow representing deeper water. This relationship is also reflected in the biofacies and community assignments. The stratigraphic trends explored in this study may be applied to other Spence Shale localities and possibly other Cambrian fossil deposits, such as the Burgess Shale of British Columbia. (151 pages)

Comments

Publication made available electronically January 24, 2012.

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