Patterns of faunal change at an upper Cambrian trilobite extinction event, Nolichucky Formation, Tennessee and Virginia
Cuggy, Michael Brian.
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During the Upper Cambrian there were three mass extinctions, each of which eliminated at least half of the trilobite families living in North American shelf seas. The Nolichucky Formation preserves the record of one of these extinction events at the base of the Steptoean Stage. Sixty-six trilobite collections were made from five sections In Tennessee and Virginia. The lower Steptoean faunas are assigned to one low diversity, Aphelaspis-dominated biofacies, which can be recognized in several other parts of North America. In Tennessee, the underlying upper Marjuman strata contain two higher diversity biofacies, the Coosella-Glaphyraspis Biofacies and the Tricrepicephalus-Norwoodiid Biofacies. At least four different biofacies are present in other parts of North America: the Crepicephalus -Lonchocephalus Biofacies, the Kingstonia Biofacies, the Cedaria Biofacies, and the Uncaspis Biofacies. A new, species-based zonation for the Nolichucky Formation imcludes five zones, three of which are new. These zones are the Crepicephalus Zone, the Coosella perplexa Zone, the Aphelaspis buttsi Zone, the A. walcotti Zone and the A. tarda Zone. The Nolichucky Formation was deposited within a shallow shelf basin and consists largely of subtidal shales with stormgenerated carbonate interbeds. A relative deepening is recorded In the Nolichucky Formation near the extinction, and is indicated In some sections by the appearance of shale-rich, distal storm deposits above a carbonate-rich, more proximal storm deposit sequence. A comparable deepening-upward sequence occurs near the extinction in the Great Basin of southwestern United States and in central Texas, and this suggests a possible eustatic control. In other parts of North America, the extinction IS recorded In a variety of environmental settings that range from near-shore to slope. In shelf environments, there is a marked decrease in diversity, and a sharp reduction in biofacies differentiation. Although extinctions do take place in slope environments, there IS no net reduction in diversity because of the immigration of several new taxa.