The common belief that organic-rich mudstones formed in quiescent, distal settings is further weakened by study of an upper Cambrian (Leptoplastus – lower Peltura superzones) succession in the Chesley Drive Group in Avalonian Cape Breton Island that is comparable to Alum Shale successions in Baltica. Dramatic sea-level (likely eustatic) changes are now recognized by punctuation of deposition of shallow, wave-influenced black mudstone with brachiopod (Orusia lenticularis) and olenid trilobite-bearing limestones by offlap and formation of a subaerially cemented calcrete-clast conglomerate. Subaerial exposure was followed by transgression and accumulation of clastic pyrite sand and phosphatic granules with Leptoplastus Superzone (L. ovatus Zone) trilobite sclerites. Dynamic processes are shown by wave ripples in the mudstone and limestone, sorting and winnowing of fossil rudstones, and pre-compactional fracture of the conglomerate and rudstones. Orusia rudstones in the succession below the conglomerate are regarded as analogues of Eoorthis and Billingsella rudstones in the ‘biomere’ extinction intervals of the Laurentian basal Sunwaptan. The lowest Orusia-rich beds are no older than the P. spinulosa Zone but, as elsewhere in Avalonia, they range into the higher Leptoplastus (Cape Breton) and even the Peltura (Britain, New Brunswick) superzones. Rare agnostoid sclerites in lower Peltura Superzone (Ctenopyge tumida Zone) olenid rudstone resemble those traditionally assigned to Lotagnostus trisectus in Avalonian Britain and Sweden, and are distinct from Laurentian L. americanus. An L. americanus Zone cannot be identified in Avalonia or Baltica, and the first appearance datum (FAD) of purported ‘L. americanus’ is not suitable as a standard for the base of the highest Cambrian stage.