Abstract

Zircons from a bentonite near the base of the Purley Shale Formation in the Nuneaton area, Warwickshire, yield a 206Pb/238U age of 517.22 ± 0.31 Ma. Based on the fauna of small shelly fossils and the brachiopod Micromitra phillipsii in the underlying Home Farm Member of the Hartshill Sandstone Formation, trilobite fragments that are questionably referred to Callavia from the basal Purley Shale Formation, and the presence of trilobites diagnostic of the sabulosa Biozone 66 m above the base of the Purley Shale Formation, the bentonite likely dates an horizon within Cambrian Stage 3, at about the level of the Fallotaspis or basal Callavia Biozone. This is consistent with bentonite ages from other localities in southern Britain, which constrain the age of the lower and uppermost parts of Cambrian Stage 3. The new date provides additional chronological control on the earliest occurrence of trilobites in the Midland Microcraton, a date for the marine transgression at the base of the Purley Shale Formation, and is the first radiometric age from the Cambrian succession of Warwickshire.

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