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Silurian–Devonian boundary interval strata deposited during the expansion of land plants record a major perturbation of the carbon cycle, the global Klonk Event, one of the largest carbon isotope excursions during the Phanerozoic. In the Appalachian Basin, these marine strata record the regional buildup to the Acadian Orogeny. This study reports new sedimentologic, paleontologic, ichnologic, and carbon isotope data from an exceptional quarry exposure in central Pennsylvania, USA, a historically understudied area between better-documented outcrops >500 km away to the southwest (West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland) and northeast (New York). Facies spanning the continuous 113-m thick outcrop are dominantly carbonate and fine-grained siliciclastic strata interpreted as being deposited in supratidal through subtidal environments, including oxygen-limited environments below storm wave base. They record parts of three transgressive-regressive cycles, in the (1) upper Silurian Tonoloway Formation, (2) upper Silurian–Lower Devonian Keyser Formation through lower Mandata Member of the Old Port Formation, and (3) Lower Devonian Mandata through Ridgeley Members of the Old Port Formation. Micrite matrix δ13Ccarb analyses exhibit a large, positive δ 13Ccarb excursion (>5‰ amplitude). Outcrops of this interval in the Appalachian Basin occur in two belts, between which correlation has been historically challenging. The regional correlation presented herein is based on carbon-isotope trends and is more consistent with published conodont biostratigraphy and volcanic ash ages, an improvement over published correlations based on lithostratigraphy. Transgressive-regressive trends at the central Pennsylvania study site are not consistent with regional trends, indicating that local controls (tectonics, sediment supply) rather than global (eustasy) dominated depositional patterns in the Silurian–Devonian boundary interval in the Appalachian Basin.
New collections of plant macrofossils and radiometric dates from the Herren beds of north-central Oregon provide the opportunity to document floral communities and calculate foliar-derived climate estimates from the warm early Eocene and the cooler middle Eocene. Plant macrofossils were collected from one fluvial site at East Birch Creek approximately 2 m below a 51.9 ± 0.9 Ma tuff. Collections were also made at two co-occurring fluvial sites at Arbuckle Mountain, whose ages are constrained to ca. 44.5–43.8 Ma based on a dated tuff from Willow Creek (44.5 ± 0.8 Ma) and reported ages for the overlying Clarno Formation. Floral findings show an almost complete vegetation overturn, with only two genera (Glyptostrobus and Allantodiopsis) appearing in both floras. Both floras are species poor, but the older East Birch Creek flora has higher richness and evenness than the younger Arbuckle Mountain flora. The four named genera at East Birch Creek are taxa found throughout Eocene North America; named genera at Arbuckle Mountain also include taxa restricted to the Pacific Northwest. Leaf margin analysis and leaf area analysis of the East Birch Creek community suggest a warmer and possibly wetter (mean annual temperature 23.4 ± 4.3 °C; mean annual precipitation 206 +89, -63 cm) climate than the Arbuckle Mountain flora (16.4 ± 4.2 °C; 165 +50, -71.4 cm). This research provides a framework for future research on Eocene floristic, environmental, and climatic trends of the Pacific Northwest.
Siliciclastic sediments of the Ediacaran Period contain exceptionally preserved fossils of macroscopic organisms, including three-dimensional casts and molds commonly found in sandstones and siltstones and some two-dimensional compressions reported in shales. The sporadic and variable associations of these exceptionally preserved macroscopic fossils with pyrite, clay minerals, and microbial fossils and textures complicate our understanding of fossilization processes. This hinders inferences about the evolutionary histories, tissue types, original morphologies, and lifestyles of the enigmatic Ediacara biota. Here, we investigate the delayed decay of scallop muscles buried in quartz sand or kaolinite for 45 days. This process occurs in the presence of microbial activity in mixed redox environments, but in the absence of thick, sealing microbial mats. Microbial processes that mediate organic decay and release the highest concentrations of silica and Fe(II) into the pore fluids are associated with the most extensive tissue decay. Delayed decay and the preservation of thick muscles in sand are associated with less intense microbial iron reduction and the precipitation of iron oxides and iron sulfides that contain Fe(II) or Fe(III). In contrast, muscles buried in kaolinite are coated only by <10 µm-thick clay veneers composed of kaolinite grains and newly formed K- and Fe(II)-rich aluminosilicate phases. Muscles that undergo delayed decay in kaolinite lose more mass relative to the muscles buried in sand and undergo vertical collapse. These findings show that the composition of minerals that coat or precipitate within the tissues and the vertical dimension of the preserved features can depend on the type of sediment that buries the muscles. Similar processes in the zone of oscillating redox likely facilitated the formation of exceptionally preserved macrofossils in Ediacaran siliciclastic sediments.
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