Abstract

The Early Cambrian Sirius Passet Lagerstätte of North Greenland occurs in marine mudstones (Buen Formation) deposited in a slope environment along the eroded scarp of a pre-existing carbonate platform. The shallow-water platform is represented by dolostones of the Portfjeld Formation (Neoproterozoic – earliest Cambrian), which record a belt of tide-swept subtidal ooid shoals and microbial patch reefs at the outer edge of the platform. Solution features and meteoric cements attest to exposure of the platform, accompanied by fracturing, mass wastage and erosional retreat of the escarpment producing slope talus, and extensive debris sheets and olistoliths in basinal deposits. The marine mud-dominated siliciclastics of the Buen Formation, deposited in slope and shelf environments, record the transgression and onlap of the degraded platform in the Early Cambrian. The Sirius Passet Lagerstätte has yielded an arthropod-dominated fossil assemblage of over 40 species, many showing exceptional preservation of soft tissues; the finely laminated mudstones hosting this fauna accumulated from suspension in a poorly oxygenated slope sub-environment, such as an erosional embayment or abandoned slope gully. Although taphonomic features suggest that the fauna is mainly parautochthonous, some components (e.g., sponges, worms, the halkieriids and certain sightless arthropods) may be truly autochthonous. Comparison of the Sirius Passet locality with the renowned Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of western Canada reveals similarities in overall depositional and tectonic setting: both accumulated in deep water adjacent to the steep, eroded margins of carbonate platforms — settings that subsequently sheltered the faunas from tectonic and metamorphic obliteration.

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