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Paleogeography and Evolution of the Ordovician/Silurian (Whiterockian-Llandoverian) Continental Margin in Central Nevada

LEATHAM, W. BRITT, California State University, San Bernardino, CA

In central Nevada, stratigraphic successions of Whiterockian-Llandoverian lithofacies, transitional with autochthonous platform/shelf carbonates to the east, occur in isolated windows in outer slope to basinal lithotopes of the Roberts Mountains allochthon. Petrologic, chronostratigraphic and lithostratigraphic, and palontologic comparison of those successions with platform/shelf facies to the east is integral for reconstruction of Ordovician-Silurian platform margin paleogeography and pre-Antler genesis of the western North American continental margin. Numerous facies changes and/or stratigraphic omissions in central Nevada can be related to sea level fluctuation and aggradation/progradation of the carbonate platform to the east, and not to a postulated, offshore geanticline (i.e., t e Toiyabe Ridge).

Stratigraphic omission of the Eureka Quartzite above Pogonip equivalents in transitional successions of the Toquima Range and the presence of correlative quartzite in outer slope/basinal parautochthonous facies of the Toiyabe Range suggest development of a possible bypass-margin during the Middle Ordovician. Deposition of Late Ordovician platform margin dolostones (Ely Springs Dolostone) and upper ramp limestones (Hanson Creek Formation and Martin Ridge strata) followed Late Ordovician transgression that drowned the margin and reestablished the carbonate factory. Glacioeustatic drawdown of Late Ordovician-earliest Silurian seas due to the Gondwanan glacial fluctuation can be recognized in strata along the platform margin and upper ramp. Rapid, Early Silurian transgression produced dar -gray carbonates and may have induced marginal flexure and regional, massive slope failure in central Nevada, generating stratigraphic hiatuses west of the platform margin.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91009©1991 AAPG-SEPM-SEG-SPWLA Pacific Section Annual Meeting, Bakersfield, California, March 6-8, 1991 (2009)