Abstract

Several field seasons in the Canadian Cordillera have allowed the measurement, description and sampling of over 20 000 m of lower Paleozoic strata from 26 stratigraphic sections across four platform-to-basin transects, with the recovery of over 100 000 conodonts from more than 1200 4–5 kg samples. This work was part of the Lithoprobe Slave – Northern Cordillera Lithospheric Evolution (SNORCLE) project but is also being extended through a Pan-Lithoprobe project to understand the tectonic and eustatic response of much of the Laurentian plate through the early Paleozoic. Based on the abundant field data, the complex stratigraphic framework is interpreted in terms of sequence stratigraphy and a derived relative sea-level curve. Using detailed conodont taxonomic and biostratigraphic results, cluster analysis of conodont distributional data identified an evolving series of conodont communities through space and time. These communities were partitioned across the platform-to-basin gradient and provide an additional sensitive indicator of relative sea-level change. These two independent approaches generated comparable eustatic curves for this Cordilleran Laurentian margin during much of the early Paleozoic and identified some global eustatic events noted by earlier workers. This part of Laurentia was not a simple passive margin during the early Paleozoic, but rather was affected by four main tectonic events complicated by six principal eustatic changes. Some success was achieved in filtering the global and regional tectonic–eustatic effects and in proposing causes for some of the events.

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