Cambrian-Ordovician stratigraphy of the Wisconsin dome is organized into five cycles consisting of basal quartzose sandstone, over lain by glauconitic sandstone and capped by limestone or dolostone. Unconformities at the base of each cycle are found to be coeval with known times of rapid tectonic subsidence in the Illinois basin at approximately 512, 502, 495, and 461 Ma. These times of rapid basin subsidence in the Illinois basin are interpreted to represent resurgent faulting events concurrent with thermal subsidence. Such regional extensional faulting would cause concomitant minor uplift of the Wisconsin dome, developing erosional unconformities observed at the base of each Cambrian-Ordovician stratigraphic cycle. Because sea level was rising at a constant global rate during deposition of the Cambrian-Ordovician cycles, stabilization of minor uplift permitted local transgression and deposition of a successive cycle. Repeated faulting during thermal subsidence in the Illinois basin caused repeated minor uplift on the Wisconsin dome, each time initiating a new stratigraphic cycle. Exceptions to this model include initial Late Cambrian transgression onto the midcontinent and a global drop in sea level at 485 Ma. Our findings suggest that geodynamic models proposing a two-stage process from mechanical, fault-controlled subsidence to thermal subsidence during evolution of extensional basins may need to be modified to include the occurrence of coeval extensional faulting and thermal subsidence during initial stages of basin thermal subsidence.