JAMES W. HAGADORN, JOSEPH H. COLLETTE, EDWARD S. BELT
Palaios 26 (5), 314-334, (1 May 2011) https://doi.org/10.2110/palo.2010.p10-061r
Exposures of the middle Cambrian Potsdam Group of northern New York, including the type section, represent a suite of interfingering eolian dune and aquatic deposits that record the activities of early land-going arthropods. Quartz arenites at these exposures are dominantly fine to medium grained, well sorted, and have hematite-coated well-rounded, high-sphericity quartz grains characterized by secondary optically continuous quartz cement overgrowths. Eolian beds are laminated and dominated by m- to dm-scale foresets characterized by large-scale, laterally extensive cross-beds that dip >∼15°–34° and contain reverse-graded lamination, en-echelon microfaulted slumps, adhesion structures, and very high ripple-index asymmetric ripples that lie on the foresets with crests that trend downdip. Lower parts of foresets are interpreted as toesets, and contain unusual Diplichnites and Protichnites trackways, which record the uphill, downhill, crest-parallel, and switchback-style movement of arthropods in dry or damp sand. Trackways that ascend dune faces do not possess a medial tail drag, whereas trackways that descend do, and turns of trackways often have deep continuous medial impressions; these features suggest arthropods leaned into the slope when turning downhill in dry sand. More shallowly dipping (∼4°–15°) cross-beds are interpreted as bottomsets. Like nearby intertidal Potsdam deposits, these beds contain Protichnites trackways and Arenicolites burrows. Paleocurrent analyses imply a coastline in which offshore and mixed-direction winds moved dunes seaward. Considered together, these strata record migration of coastal dunes into aquatic environments and flooding and reworking of distal dune bottomsets. In this setting, the same suite of epifaunal arthropods inhabited dry, damp, and aquatic marine environments.