The deep-marine glaciogenic Gaskiers Formation, Newfoundland, Canada
Published:January 01, 2011
Shannon L. Carto, Nick Eyles, 2011. "The deep-marine glaciogenic Gaskiers Formation, Newfoundland, Canada", The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Emmanuelle Arnaud, Galen P. Halverson, Graham Shields-Zhou
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In eastern Canada, the Neoproterozoic Gaskiers Formation (Fm.) consists of a thick diamictite–turbidite succession (250–300 m thick) that occurs within the deep-marine predominantly volcaniclastic turbidite units of the Conception Group (4–5 km thick). These rocks are well exposed on the coast of the Avalon Peninsula in eastern Newfoundland. The thick succession is considered by some to represent the final Neoproterozoic glacial event, known as the Gaskiers Glaciation c. 582–585 Ma. The Gaskiers Fm. appears to have accumulated in a volcanically-influenced arc-related basin within the confines of the Proterozoic peri-Gondwanan Avalon terrane, before rifting away from the Gondwanan margin in the early Palaeozoic, but it is not clear whether it was adjacent to the West African Craton or the Amazon Craton. It has also been argued that Avalon had already rifted from Gondwana by the late Proterozoic.
Glacially striated clasts, dropstones, and chatter-marked garnets identify a glaciated source area, and clasts and matrix are of volcanic origin; pyroclastic flows and volcanic bombs are also present. As a result, there is a growing consensus that the Gaskiers Fm. records local glaciation of a high relief volcanic topography, owing its origin to the episodic downslope reworking of volcanic and glacial debris into a deep, rapidly subsiding basin. The volcanic nature of these deposits implies that local volcanic activity was coeval with deposition. A minimum age of the Gaskiers Fm. is constrained by a diverse assemblage of Ediacaran-type fossils in the upper Conception Group dated at c. 565±3 Ma and in the lower St. John's Group, which overlies the Conception Group. A maximum age for the Gaskiers is provided by a U–Pb date of 606 +3.7/–2.9) Ma in the Harbour Main volcanic rocks underlying the Gaskiers Fm. A thin limestone bed has also been identified at two localities in Conception Bay directly overlying the diamictite yielding strongly negative δ13C values.
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The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations
In recent years, interest in Neoproterozoic glaciations has grown as their pivotal role in Earth system evolution has become increasingly clear. One of the main goals of the IGCP Project No. 512 was to produce a synthesis of newly available information on Neoproterozoic successions worldwide similar in format to Hambrey & Harland’s (1981) Earth’s pre-Pleistocene Glacial Record. This Memoir therefore consists of a series of overview chapters followed by site-specific chapters. The overview chapters cover key topics including the history of research on Neoproterozoic glaciations, identification of glacial deposits, chemostratigraphic techniques and datasets, palaeomagnetism, biostratigraphy, geochronology and climate modelling. The site specific chapters for 60 successions worldwide include reviews of the history of research on these rocks and up-to-date syntheses of the structural framework, tectonic setting, palaeomagnetic and geochronological constraints, physical, biological, and chemical stratigraphy, and descriptions of the glaciogenic and associated strata, including economic deposits.