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Regional analysis of spiculite faunas in the permian phosphoria basin: Implications for paleoceanography

January 1, 2004

The sponge spiculites of the Permian Phosphoria basin, Antler high, and eastern Havallah basin were the southernmost expression of one of the largest spiculite belts in the Earth's history. This spiculite belt extended from Nevada to the Barents Sea. In Idaho and Nevada, the spicule populations of this belt are dominated by demosponge spicules and are distinctive for their abundant rhax microscleres, large monaxons, and lithistid desmas. They form an Eastern Belt of spiculites that interfingers with spicule assemblages derived from choristid demosponges and hexactinellids that lived along the eastern margin of the deeper Havallah basin. The Havallah basin assemblages are similar to those in Permian arc terranes to the west, and together the sponge populations in this domain constitute a dis- tinct Central Belt. Radiolarians are virtually absent in the siliceous microfossil populations of the Eastern Belt, abundant in the populations of the Central Belt, and dominant in the populations of a Western Belt confined to Mesozoic accretionary complexes in the Pacific Coast States. The scattered sponge spicules in the Western Belt radiolarites were derived from hexactinellids.

During the Permian, the relative abundance and apparent diversity of siliceous sponges expanded over a wide range of depths in the basins from Nevada and Idaho to the open ocean. Radiolarian preservation and apparent diversity increased in the deeper Cordilleran basins as well. In the Arctic regions, significant sponge spiculites were deposited in epicratonic basins. At the same time that siliceous sponge populations expanded along the northwestern margin of Pangea, warm-water carbonate producers disappeared. Suppression of carbonate-producing organisms along the margin was critical to the accu- mulation and preservation of both the demosponge spiculites in the Eastern Belt and the spicule-rich argillites of the Central Belt. Vigorous thermohaline circulation was the major control on the paleobiogeography of the late Early, Middle, and early Late Permian along northwest Pangea. It was driven by cold, nutrient- and oxygen-rich northern waters and it produced a coastal current that swept down the margin of the supercontinent. The upwelling associated with deposition of world-class phosphorites in the Phosphoria basin was a part of this larger oceanographic system.

Publication Year 2004
Title Regional analysis of spiculite faunas in the permian phosphoria basin: Implications for paleoceanography
DOI 10.1016/S1874-2734(04)80007-X
Authors Benita L. Murchey
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Handbook of Exploration and Environmental Geochemistry
Index ID 70142162
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse