Abstract

The Late Cretaceous Grassy Lake and Cedar Lake amber deposits of western Canada are among North America’s most famous amber-producing localities. Although it has been suggested for over a century that Cedar Lake amber from western Manitoba may be a secondary deposit having originated from strata in Alberta, this hypothesis has not been tested explicitly using geochemical fingerprinting coupled to comparative analyses of arthropod faunal content. Although there are many amber-containing horizons associated with Cretaceous coals throughout Alberta, most are thermally mature and brittle, thus lacking the resilience to survive long distance transport while preserving intact biotic inclusions. One of the few exceptions is the amber found in situ at Grassy Lake. We present a suite of new analyses from these and other Late Cretaceous ambers from western Canada, including stable isotopes (H and C), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra, and an updated faunal compendium for the Grassy and Cedar lakes arthropod assemblages. When combined with amber’s physical properties and stratigraphic constraints, the results of these analyses confirm that Cedar Lake amber is derived directly from the Grassy Lake amber deposit or an immediate correlative equivalent. This enables the palaeoenvironmental context of Grassy Lake amber to be extended to the Cedar Lake deposit, making possible a more inclusive survey of Cretaceous arthropod faunas.

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