Abstract

Geological reports over the past 50 years have so confused the age designation of the Athabasca formation that logic has been abandoned even in the face of new evidence that the current Precambrian designation is untenable.

The absolute age of the Athabasca formation cannot be fixed without fossil evidence. Herein, it is tentatively assigned to the Middle Devonian? or Late Cambrian? on the basis of structural relationships and lithologic characteristics, with full awareness of the risk involved in such a practice. The name Martin Lake series is here introduced for the ancient folded and faulted sedimentary-volcanic rocks of the Martin Lake area, which have been erroneously correlated with the Athabasca formation. Recent dating indicates that they are late Early Precambrian and are much older than the “Late Proterozoic” to which they have been assigned.

This is an example of the need for a revision of the Precambrian time classification and the abandonment of terms such as Proterozoic, Algonkian, and Archean, which are carry-overs from the old concept of a twofold subdivision of the Precambrian—now known to be at least five to six times as long as the fossil record.

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