Abstract

This paper describes the first silicified Upper Triassic (Early Norian) hypercalcified sponges known from the Alexander terrane, southeast Alaska. Sponges consist of five taxa from the Cornwallis Limestone of Keku Strait, southeast Alaska: Amblysiphonella Steinmann, Parauvanella Senowbari-Daryan and Di Stefano, Nevadathalamia cylindrica (Seilacher), N. minima n. sp., and Stellispongia (S. cf. subsphaerica Dieci, Antonacci, and Zardini). The hypercalcified sponges of the Alexander terrane as described in this paper provide paleogeographic linkage with other far-flung terranes of western North America, namely the Western Great Basin of Nevada, Stikinia of the Yukon, as well as the Antimonio terrane of northwestern Mexico. In addition, Parauvanella cf. ferdowensis is known from the Upper Triassic Nayband Formation, Iran. Finally Stellispongia cf. subsphaerica is known from the Upper Carnian Cassian Formation of the Dolomite Alps.

Sponges (particularly hypercalcified inozoans, sphinctozoans, chaetetids, and sponge-like organisms) are known worldwide from many Upper Triassic reef and nonreef sites. Although Upper Triassic deposits within the Cordilleran terranes and cratonal North America do not typically contain reeflike buildups, hypercalcifying sponge-like organisms were noted as occurring as part of the intricate paleoecological structure within a biostrome along the western shoreline of Gravina Island, southeast Alaska (southern Alexander terrane). This is in contrast to Keku Strait, southeast Alaska (central Alexander terrane), where hypercalcified sponges were identified from limestone beds within nonreef deposits.

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