Abstract

Early Permian species of the related massive coral genera Thysanophyllum, Stylastraea, and Protowentzelella are restricted geographically to a narrow belt stretching discontinuously from the southern Ural Mountains to Texas by way of Vestspitsbergen, Canadian Arctic Islands, and the western Cordillera (British Columbia and the Basin and Range of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California). In addition, limited data suggest that this belt may have extended as far south as Peru. This coral belt developed at low and intermediate latitudes during Early Permian time along the northwestern and western margins of the Pangaean supercontinent. Land, a very wide Paleopacific Ocean, and temperature barriers prevented these tropical to subtropical, shallow-water corals from invading similar warm-water environments in the Tethys Ocean on the opposite coast of Pangaea, where faunas including different types of massive corals developed.

Today, the Thysanophyllum association is represented in several geosynclinal belts which in the past have been difficult to relate to one another. This coral belt, therefore, may constitute an important key for understanding the relationships between several of these great belts of sediment accumulation and in locating the position of Permian continental margins and interpreting some subsequent plate-margin tectonic events.

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