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Ordovician Platform, Slope, and Basin Facies in Subsurface of Southern North America

Leonard P. Alberstadt, George Colvin, Judith Sauve

Ordovician carbonates of the Nashville dome and Ozark dome regions have long been considered typical shelf deposits. In the subsurface to the south, in the Black Warrior basin, Mississippi Embayment, and Arkoma basin, these shelf carbonate units changed facies. The most significant change is the occurrence of a thick limestone unit characterized by a faunal and floral assemblage of Nuia, Girvanella (isolated long strands), Sphaerocodium, a delicate stacked-chambered organism (?algal), and sponge spicules and sponge mudstone clumps. In ascending order, the complete Ordovician sequence consists of: a lower dolostone, the Nuia-sponge limestone, a dolostone, and a limestone. The upper part of this four-fold sequence changes character westward into the Arkoma basin. The lower wo units maintain their character for long distances along depositional strike and occur in parts of the Appalachians as far north as Newfoundland, and on the opposite side of the continent in Nevada. The Nuia-sponge assemblage is a distinctive petrographic marker and seems to be a persistent Ordovician rock and fossil assemblage of widespread occurrence. In Nevada, it occurs on the surface where it is associated with slump and slide features that suggest that it is an outer shelf or upper slope deposit. Coeval carbonates in the Ouachita Mountains are different and show indications of being deep water (basinal).

Biostratigraphic evidence indicates that the succession in the subsurface is continuous; the regional Lower Ordovician-Middle Ordovician unconformity is absent. The Lower Ordovician-Middle Ordovician boundary falls near the top of the Nuia-sponge mudstone unit and not at the top of the underlying thick dolostone unit.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.