Abstract

Neoproterozoic–Cambrian rocks of the Windermere Supergroup and overlying units record the breakup of Rodinia and formation of the northwestern Laurentian ancestral continental margin. Understanding the nature and timing of this transition has been hampered by difficulty correlating poorly dated sedimentary successions from contrasting depositional settings across Mesozoic structures. Here we present new litho- and chemo-stratigraphic data from a Cryogenian–lower Cambrian succession in east-central Yukon (Canada), establish correlations between proximal and distal parts of the upper Windermere Supergroup and related strata in the northern Canadian Cordillera, and consider implications for the formation of the northwestern Laurentian margin. The newly defined Nadaleen Formation hosts the first appearance of Ediacaran macrofossils, while the overlying Gametrail Formation features a large negative carbon isotope anomaly with δ13Ccarb values as low as –13‰ that correlates with the globally developed Shuram-Wonoka anomaly. We also define the Rackla Group, which includes the youngest (Ediacaran) portions of the Windermere Supergroup in the northern Cordillera. The top of the Windermere Supergroup is marked by an unconformity above the Risky Formation that passes into a correlative conformity in the Nadaleen River area. This surface has been interpreted to mark the top of the rift-related succession, but we draw attention to evidence for tectonic instability through the early-middle Cambrian and argue that the transition from rifting to post-rift thermal subsidence is marked by a widespread unconformity that underlies upper Cambrian carbonate rocks. This is younger than the interpreted age of the rift to post-rift transition elsewhere along the ancestral western Laurentian continental margin.

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