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Exposures of Ordovician rocks of the Sauk megasequence in Missouri and northern Arkansas comprise Ibexian and lower Whiterockian carbonates with interspersed sandstones. Subjacent Cambrian strata are exposed in Missouri but confined to the subsurface in Arkansas. The Sauk-Tippecanoe boundary in this region is at the base of the St. Peter Sandstone. Ulrich and associates divided the Arkansas section into formations early in the 20th century, principally based on sparse collections of fossil invertebrates. In contrast, the distribution of invertebrate faunas and modern studies of conodonts will be emphasized throughout this chapter. Early workers considered many of the stratigraphic units to be separated by unconformities, but modern analysis calls into question the unconformable nature of some of their boundaries. The physical similarity of the several dolomites and sandstones, complex facies relations, and lack of continuous exposures make identification of individual formations difficult in isolated outcrops.

The oldest formation that crops out in the region is the Jefferson City Dolomite, which may be present in outcrops along incised river valleys near the Missouri-Arkansas border. Rare fossil gastropods, bivalves, brachiopods, conodonts, and trilobites permit correlation of the Cotter through Powell Dolomites with Ibexian strata elsewhere in Laurentia. Conodonts in the Black Rock Limestone Member of the Smithville Formation and the upper part of the Powell Dolomite confirm regional relationships that have been suggested for these units; those of the Black Rock Limestone Member are consistent with deposition under more open marine conditions than existed when older and younger units were forming. Brachiopods and conodonts from the overlying Everton Formation assist in interpreting complex facies within that formation and its correlation to equivalent rocks elsewhere. The youngest cono-donts in the Everton Formation provide an age limit for the Sauk-Tippecanoe unconformity near the southern extremity of the great American carbonate bank. The correlation to coeval strata in the Ouachita Mountains of central Arkansas and in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma and to rocks penetrated in wells drilled in the Reelfoot rift basin has been improved greatly in recent years by integration of biostratigraphic data with lithologic information.

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