Globally documented carbon isotope excursions provide time-varying signals that can be used for high-resolution stratigraphic correlation. We report detailed inorganic and organic carbon isotope curves from carbonate rocks of the Ellis Bay and Becscie Formations spanning the Ordovician-Silurian boundary on Anticosti Island, Québec, Canada. Strata of the Anticosti Basin record the development of a storm-dominated tropical carbonate ramp. These strata host the well-known Hirnantian positive carbon isotope excursion, which attains maximum values of ∼4.5‰ in carbonate carbon of the Laframboise Member or the Fox Point Member of the Becscie Formation. The excursion also occurs in organic carbon, and δ13Ccarb and δ13Corg values covary such that no reproducible Δ13C (= δ13Ccarb – δ13Corg) excursion is observed. The most complete stratigraphic section, at Laframboise Point in the west, shows the characteristic shape of the Hirnantian Stage excursion at the global stratotype section and point (GSSP) for the Hirnantian Stage in China and the Silurian System in Scotland. We therefore suggest that the entire Hirnantian Stage on Anticosti Island is confined to the Laframboise and lower Fox Point Members.
By documenting discontinuities in the architecture of the carbon isotope curve at multiple stratigraphic sections spanning a proximal to distal transect across the sedimentary basin, we are able to reconstruct glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations corresponding to maximum glacial conditions associated with the end-Ordovician ice age. The combined litho- and chemostratigraphic approach provides evidence for the diachroneity of the oncolite bed and Becscie limestones; the former transgresses from west to east, and the latter progrades from east to west. The sea-level curve consistent with our sequence-stratigraphic model indicates that glacioeustatic sea-level changes and the positive carbon isotope excursion were not perfectly coupled. Although the start of the isotope excursion and the initial sea-level drawdown were coincident, the peak of the isotope excursion did not occur until after sea level had begun to rise. Carbon isotope values did not return to baseline until well after the Anticosti ramp was reflooded. The sea-level–δ13Ccarb relationship proposed here is consistent with the “weathering” hypothesis for the origin of the Hirnantian δ13Ccarb excursion.