Abstract

Since the 1970s, acritarch workers have recognized two distinct geographic acritarch assemblages in the Ordovician. The first assemblage occurs in the late Tremadoc in low latitude areas. This assemblage, recently redefined by Volkova [1997], has been attributed to warm-water environments. A second “Mediterranean” or “peri-Gondwanan” province, attributed to high latitudes in the southern hemisphere, can easily be recognized in late Tremadoc to Arenig acritarch assemblages. This second palaeogeographic “province”, defined by Li [1989] is distributed around the border of Gondwana in a zone reaching from Argentina through northern Africa and peri-Gondwana up to Iran, Pakistan and southern China. In the present work we propose an initial simplified, tentative model of the latitudinal distribution of selected early to middle Ordovician acritarchs. Both “provinces” are plotted on the recent palaeogeographical reconstruction of the early Ordovician of Li and Powell [2001]. It appears that the first “province” is limited to low and intermediate latitudes, i.e., to warmer water environments. However, the generally adopted interpretation that the so called “Mediterranean” or “peri-Gondwanan” geographical assemblage is principally controlled by palaeolatitudes and is considered to be typically “cold-water” has to be revised, because the distribution of this “province” appears related more to the continental arrangement along the Gondwana border than to latitudes. This distribution shows some similarities with recent investigations in Silurian acritarch palaeogeography [Le Hérissé and Gourvennec, 1995] that provides evidence that the global distribution of Silurian acritarchs is under the interdependence of continental arrangement, latitudinal position, environmental conditions and oceanic currents, and that it is not simply latitudinally controlled as previous interpretations have suggested. The Yangtze Plaform of southern China presents elements of both early to middle Ordovician “provinces”, i.e., from both the “warm-water” and the “peri-Gondwanan” geographic assemblages. The South China Plate is therefore one of the areas that shows typically mixed assemblages. Although it remains difficult to define clearly a “Baltic” province, it is important to note that between the latest Tremadoc and the early Llanvirn a clear distinction of the acritarch assemblages between peri-Gondwana and Baltica is possible.

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