Early Carboniferous syn-rift sedimentation in the Sverdrup Basin (Yelverton Pass area, northern Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada): A solution to the Okse Bay problem
B. Beauchamp, D. Alonso-Torres, K. Piepjohn, P. Thériault, S.E. Grasby, "Early Carboniferous syn-rift sedimentation in the Sverdrup Basin (Yelverton Pass area, northern Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada): A solution to the Okse Bay problem", Circum-Arctic Structural Events: Tectonic Evolution of the Arctic Margins and Trans-Arctic Links with Adjacent Orogens, Karsten Piepjohn, Justin V. Strauss, Lutz Reinhardt, William C. McClelland
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The unit previously mapped as the lower Upper Devonian Okse Bay Formation in the Yelverton Pass area of northern Ellesmere Island, considered indicative of syn-orogenic foreland (Devonian clastic wedge) basin deposition along the apex of the Ellesmerian Orogen, is in fact Early Carboniferous (Serpukhovian) in age and belongs to the Borup Fiord Formation of the successor Sverdrup Basin. The principal lines of evidence in favor of the original Okse Bay formational assignment were: (1) the presence of late Middle (Givetian) or early Late (Frasnian) Devonian palynomorphs; (2) a set of lithofacies presumably different from that of the Borup Fiord Formation; and (3) an angular unconformity between the so-called Okse Bay strata and overlying Pennsylvanian carbonates of the Nansen Formation. Here we demonstrate that the Devonian palynomorphs were eroded from the Devonian clastic wedge, transported for some distance, and deposited into the Sverdrup Basin in the Early Carboniferous. We also show that the units mapped as Okse Bay and Borup Fiord formations share the same clastic lithofacies assemblages, albeit in different proportions. We report the presence of Early Carboniferous palynomorphs in the uppermost part of a section assigned to the Okse Bay Formation, and show that detrital zircons contained in the middle part of the Okse Bay Formation yield dates as young as 358 Ma, thus demonstrating that the rocks that contain them are considerably younger than the assumed youngest age (Frasnian) based on palynology. We conclude that the Okse Bay Formation is the same unit as the Borup Fiord Formation and should be remapped as such. Both units are part of the same unconformity-bounded syn-rift Serpukhovian sequence that was rotated and differentially eroded prior to the widespread Pennsylvanian transgression.
The Serpukhovian sequence comprises three lithofacies assemblages: meandering stream clastic, braided stream/alluvial fan clastic, and shallow marine carbonate. These lithofacies assemblages were deposited as part of a differentially subsiding rift system likely bounded to the south by one or more master listric faults and associated footwall uplift, and to the north by hanging wall ramp uplift. The Serpukhovian sequence comprises three fourth-order sequences, each interpreted as corresponding to a rift pulse. Relatively coarse terrigenous sediments derived from the erosion of the Franklinian basement (Laurentia margin) and the Devonian clastic wedge entered the rift basin at a high angle through broad alluvial fans and braided river systems. These streams fed into a NE-flowing basin-axial meandering system, which met a shallow sea to the northeast. An additional source of sediments is Crockerland to the north, including syn- to post-Ellesmerian intrusions that shed detrital zircons of latest Devonian age once sufficient unroofing of these had occurred during the Serpukhovian.