The Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary strata in the Great Basin of the southwestern United States record biological, geochemical, and tectonic change during the transformative interval of Earth history in which metazoans diversified. Here, we integrate new and compiled chemostratigraphic, paleontological, sedimentological, and stratigraphic data sets from the Death Valley region, the White-Inyo Ranges, and Esmeralda County in Nevada and California and evaluate these data within a regional geologic framework. A large negative carbon isotope (δ13C) excursion—also known as the Basal Cambrian Excursion, or BACE—is regionally reproducible, despite lateral changes in sedimentary facies and dolomitization across ∼250 km, consistent with a primary marine origin for this perturbation. Across the southern Great Basin, Ediacaran body fossils are preserved in a variety of taphonomic modes, including cast and mold preservation, two-dimensional compressional preservation, two-dimensional and three-dimensional pyritization, and calcification. The stratigraphic framework of these occurrences is used to consider the relationships among taphonomic modes for fossil preservation and paleoenvironmental settings within this basin. In this region, Ediacaran-type fossils occur below the nadir of the BACE, while Cambrian-type trace fossils occur above. Sedimentological features that include giant ooids, stromatolites, and textured organic surfaces are widespread and abundant within the interval that records biotic turnover and coincide with basaltic volcanism and the BACE. We hypothesize that the prevalence of these sedimentological features, the BACE, and the disappearance of some Ediacaran clades were caused by environmental perturbation at the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.