Sequence stratigraphy, cyclic facies, and lagerstatten in the Middle Cambrian Wheeler and Marjum Formations, Great Basin, Utah

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Recurrent taphofacies, including conservation lagerstätten, are identified within a spectrum of facies in fourth-order sequences in the Middle Cambrian Wheeler, and Marjum formations of the Drum Mountains and House Range, west-central Utah. These sequences are 3–20 m thick and commence with sharply-based compact, oncolitic, oolitic, or pelletal pack- and grainstones with sharply-defined, corroded and mineralized upper contacts that record drowning discontinuities and early transgressive systems tracts (TSTs). Overlying intervals of calcareous shale and thin-bedded wacke- to packstones with abundant, disarticulated polymerid and agnostoid trilobites represent late TSTs. These are commonly followed by lavender-gray mudstones rich in sponge spicules and comminuted fossil debris that reflect condensed maximum flooding zones. The overlying early highstand (HST) intervals of black, fissile shales are typically barren except for indistinct, circular carbonized algae, but in rare instances, include soft-bodied animal remains. A combination of lower dysoxic–anoxic conditions, with a fluctuating oxycline, and relatively rapid episodic influx of fine-grained detrital sediment favored repeated burial and preservation of abundant organic detritus and rarely soft-bodied animals. Interbedded dark gray, shales include abundant articulated agnostoid trilobites and diminutive polymerids (e.g., Jenkinsonia). Overlying platy, calcareous bedding planes covered with articulated bodies and molts of the polymerid Elrathia indicate rapid blanketing of undisturbed seafloors by calcareous mud layers. These beds grade upward successively into interbedded, sparsely fossiliferous platy to flaggy shale and thin, pale gray weathering calcisiltites, and burrow-mottled to nodular limestones, recording late HST to falling stage (FSST) carbonate shedding. Thin calcisiltites include fossil debris and articulated larger polymerid trilobites and the eocrinoid Gogia, preserved by obrutionary deposits. The repeated recurrence of these patterns provides the rudiments of a predictive model that not only explains the differing modes of preservation but may also aid in prospecting for new lagerstätten.

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