Abstract

The Sheepbed Formation (Ediacaran) is a 1 km thick, siliciclastic unit that overlies glacial deposits of the Ice Brook Formation and is overlain by carbonates of the Gametrail Formation. Observations in the Mackenzie Mountains indicate that the Sheepbed Formation accumulated in water depths of 1–1.5 km on a passive-margin, continental slope. The lower part of the formation consists predominately of dark mudstone. Fine-grained, turbiditic sandstone becomes more abundant upward, as does the scale and abundance of slope-instability indicators. Mesoscale facies successions (i.e., evidence of channels, lobes, and (or) compensation cycles) are developed in the upper half of the formation. The larger-scale changes are interpreted as reflecting a postglacial sea-level rise, followed by a relative fall and an increase in the rate of deposition. Contourites that may have been formed in response to the circulation of deep, cold water occur in the lowstand deposits. Their presence confirms previous speculation that the proto-Pacific Ocean was initiated at the beginning of Windermere deposition (ca. 780 Ma), not at the start of the Cambrian. The paleoflow direction toward the present-day northwest suggests that this part of Laurentia lay in the northern hemisphere. In situ Ediacaran megafossils are preserved on the soles of sandy turbidites; the deep-water setting indicates that these organisms were not photoautotrophs.

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