Silicified carbonates of the late Mesoproterozoic to early Neoproterozoic Society Cliffs Formation, Baffin Island, contain distinctive microfabrics and microbenthic assemblages whose paleoenvironmental distribution within the formation parallels the distribution of these elements through Proterozoic time. In the Society Cliffs Formation, restricted carbonates—including microdigitate stromatolites, laminated tufa, and tufted microbial mats—consist predominantly of synsedimentary cements; these facies and the cyanobacterial fossils they contain are common in Paleoproterozoic successions but rare in Neoproterozoic and younger rocks. Less restricted tidal-flat facies in the formation are composed of laminated microbialites dominated by micritic carbonate lithified early, yet demonstrably after compaction; these strata contain cyanobacteria that are characteristic in Neoproterozoic rocks. Within the formation, the facies-dependent distribution of microbial populations reflects both the style and timing of carbonate deposition because of the strong substrate specificity of benthic cyanobacteria. A reasonable conclusion is that secular changes in microbenthic assemblages through Proterozoic time reflect a decrease in the overall representation of rapidly lithified carbonate substrates in younger peritidal environments, as well as concomitant changes in the taphonomic window of silicification through which early life is observed.

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