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Cambrian–Lower Middle Ordovician Passive Carbonate Margin, Southern Appalachians

By
J. Fred Read
J. Fred Read
Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Department of Geosciences, Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A.
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John E. Repetski
John E. Repetski
U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, U.S.A.
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Published:
January 01, 2012

Abstract

The southern Appalachian part of the Cambrian–Ordovician passive margin succession of the great American carbonate bank extends from the Lower Cambrian to the lower Middle Ordovician, is as much as 3.5 km (2.2 mi) thick, and has long-term subsidence rates exceeding 5 cm (2 in.)/k.y. Subsiding depocenters separated by arches controlled sediment thickness. The succession consists of five supersequences, each of which contains several third-order sequences, and numerous meter-scale parasequences. Siliciclastic-prone supersequence 1 (Lower Cambrian Chilhowee Group fluvial rift clastics grading up into shelf siliciclastics) underlies the passive margin carbonates. Supersequence 2 consists of the Lower Cambrian Shady Dolomite–Rome-Waynesboro Formations. This is a shallowing-upward ramp succession of thinly bedded to nodular lime mudstones up into carbonate mud-mound facies, overlain by lowstand quartzose carbonates, and then a rimmed shelf succession capped by highly cyclic regressive carbonates and red beds (Rome-Waynesboro Formations). Foreslope facies include megabreccias, grainstone, and thin-bedded carbonate turbidites and deep-water rhythmites. Supersequence 3 rests on a major unconformity and consists of a Middle Cambrian differentiated rimmed shelf carbonate with highly cyclic facies (Elbrook Formation) extending in from the rim and passing via an oolitic ramp into a large structurally controlled intrashelf basin (Conasauga Shale). Filling of the intrashelf basin caused widespread deposition of thin quartz sandstones at the base of supersequence 4, overlain by widespread cyclic carbonates (Upper Cambrian lower Knox Group Copper Ridge Dolomite in the south; Conococheague Formation in the north). Supersequence 5 (Lower Ordovician upper Knox in the south; Lower to Middle Ordovician Beekmantown Group in the north) has a basal quartz sandstone-prone unit, over-lainbycyclic ramp carbonates, that grade downdip into thrombolite grainstone and then storm-deposited deep-ramp carbonates. Passive margin deposition was terminated by arc-continent collision when the shelf was uplifted over a peripheral bulge while global sea levels were falling, resulting in the major 0- to 10-m.y. Knox–Beekmantown unconformity. The supersequences and sequences appear to relate to regionally traceable eustatic sea level cycles on which were superimposed high-frequency Milankovitch sea level cycles that formed the parasequences under global greenhouse conditions.

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Contents

Memoir

Great American Carbonate Bank: The Geology and Economic Resources of the Cambrian—Ordovician Sauk Megasequence of Laurentia

James Derby
James Derby
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Richard Fritz
Richard Fritz
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Susan Longacre
Susan Longacre
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William Morgan
William Morgan
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Charles Sternbach
Charles Sternbach
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
98
ISBN electronic:
9781629810201
Publication date:
January 01, 2012

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