Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Reinterpreting the age of the uppermost ‘Old Red Sandstone' and Early Carboniferous in Scotland

  • John E. A. MARSHALL (a1), Emma J. REEVES (a1), Carys E. BENNETT (a2), Sarah J. DAVIES (a2), Timothy I. KEARSEY (a3), David MILLWARD (a3), Timothy R. SMITHSON (a4) and Michael A. E. BROWNE (a3)...

Abstract

In Scotland, the base of the Ballagan Formation has traditionally been placed at the first grey mudstone within a contiguous Late Devonian to Carboniferous succession. This convention places the Devonian–Carboniferous boundary within the Old Red Sandstone (ORS) Kinnesswood Formation. The consequences of this placement are that tetrapods from the Ballagan Formation were dated as late Tournaisian in age and that the ranges of typically Devonian fish found in the Kinnesswood Formation continued into the Carboniferous. The Pease Bay specimen of the fish Remigolepis is from the Kinnesswood Formation. Comparisons with its range in Greenland, calibrated against spores, show it was Famennian in age. Detailed palynological sampling at Burnmouth from the base of the Ballagan Formation proves that the early Tournaisian spore zones (VI and HD plus Cl 1) are present. The Schopfites species that occurs through most of the succession is Schopfites delicatus rather than Schopfites claviger. The latter species defines the late Tournaisian CM spore zone. The first spore assemblage that has been found in Upper ‘ORS' strata underlying the Ballagan Formation (Preston, Whiteadder Water), contains Retispora lepidophyta and is from the early latest Famennian LL spore zone. The spore samples are interbedded with volcaniclastic debris, which shows that the Kelso Volcanic Formation is, in part, early latest Famennian in age. These findings demonstrate that the Ballagan Formation includes most of the Tournaisian with the Devonian–Carboniferous boundary positioned close to the top of the Kinnesswood Formation. The Stage 6 calcrete at Pease Bay can be correlated to the equivalent section at Carham, showing that it represents a time gap equivalent to the latest Famennian glaciation(s). Importantly, some of the recently described Ballagan Formation tetrapods are older than previously dated and now fill the key early part of Romer's Gap.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Andrew, C. J. & Poustie, A. 1986. Syndiagenetic or epigenetic mineralisation – the evidence from Tatestown zinc-lead prospect, Co. Meath. In Andrew, C. J., Crowe, R. W. A., Finlay, S., Pennel, W. M. & Pyne, J. F. (eds) Geology and genesis of mineral deposits in Ireland, 281296. Dublin: IAEG.
Andrews, J. E., Turner, M. S., Nabi, G. & Spiro, B. 1991. The anatomy of an early Dinantian terraced floodplain: palaeo-environment and early diagenesis. Sedimentology 38, 271287.
Andrews, J. E. & Nabi, G. 1998. Palaeoclimatic significance of calcretes in the Dinantian of the Cocksburnpath Outlier (East Lothian-North Berwickshire). Scottish Journal of Geology 34, 153164.
Andrews, S. M. 1974. A possible occurrence of Remigolepis in the topmost Old Red Sandstone of Berwickshire. Scottish Journal of Geology 14, 311315.
Anon. 1939. Forthcoming events. Nature 144, 453454.
Astin, T. R., Marshall, J. E. A., Blom, H. & Berry, C. M. 2010. The sedimentary environment of the Late Devonian East Greenland tetrapods. In Vecoli, M., Clement, G. & Meyer-Berthaud, B. (eds) The terrestrialization process: modelling complex interactions at the biosphere–geosphere interface 339, 93109. Special Publication, Bath, UK: Geological Society of London.
Avchimovitch, V. I. & Turnau, E. 1994. The Lower Carboniferous Prolycospora claytonii Zone of Western Pomerania and its equivalents in Belorussia and Northwestern Europe. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae 63, 249263.
Bateman, R. M. 1992. Morphometric reconstruction, palaeobiology and phylogeny of Oxroadia gracilis Alvin emend. and O. conferta sp. nov.: anatomically-preserved rhizomorphic lycopsids from the Dinantian of Oxroad Bay, SE Scotland. Palaeontographica Abt. B 228, 29103.
Bennett, C. E., Kearsey, T. I., Davies, S. J., Millward, D., Clack, J. A., Smithson, T. R. & Marshall, J. E. A. 2016. Early Mississippian sandy siltstones preserve rare vertebrate fossils in seasonal flooding episodes. Sedimentology 63, 16771700.
Blom, H., Clack, J. A. & Ahlberg, P. E. 2005. Localities, distribution and stratigraphical context of the Late Devonian tetrapods of East Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland Geoscience 43, 150.
Brittain, J. M. & Higgs, K. T. 2007. The early Carboniferous Spelaeotriletes balteatusS. pretiosus miospore complex: defining the base of the Spelaeotriletes pretiosusRaistrickia clavata (PC) miospore biozone. Communicações Geológicas 94, 109123.
Browne, M. A. E., Smith, R. A. & Aitken, A. M. 2002. Stratigraphical framework for the Devonian (ORS) rocks of Scotland south of a line from Fort William to Aberdeen. BGS Research Report , Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Society.
Burgess, I. C. 1961. Fossil soils of the Upper Old Red Sandstone of south Ayrshire. Transactions of the Geological Society of Glasgow 24, 138153.
Bütler, , 1961. Devonian deposits of Central East Greenland. In Raasch, G. O. (ed.) Geology of the Arctic 1, 188196. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Butterworth, M. A. & Spinner, E. G. 1967. Lower Carboniferous spores from north-west England. Palaeontology 10, 124.
Carruthers, R. G., Burnett, G. A. & Anderson, W. 1932. The geology of the Cheviot Hills. Memoirs of the Geological Survey England and Wales. Explanations of Sheets 3 & 5. London: HMSO.
Clack, J. A., Bennett, C. E., Carpenter, D. K., Davies, S. J., Fraser, N. C., Kearsey, T. I., Marshall, J. E. A., Millward, D., Otoo, B. K. A., Reeves, E. J., Ross, A. J., Ruta, M., Smithson, K. Z., Smithson, T. R. & Walsh, S. A. 2016. Phylogenetic and environmental context of a Tournaisian tetrapod fauna. Nature, Ecology & Evolution 1.
Clayton, G. 1971. A Lower Carboniferous miospore assemblage from the Calciferous Sandstone Measures of Cocksburnpath region of eastern Scotland. Pollen et Spores 12, 577600.
Clayton, G. & Turnau, E. 1990. Correlation of the Tournaisian miospore zonations of Poland and the British Isles. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae 60, 4558.
Clough, C. T. 1888. The geology of the Cheviot Hills (English side). Memoirs of the Geological Survey. London: HMSO.
Dineley, D. & Metcalf, S. 1999. Hawks Heugh, fossil fishes of Great Britain. Geological Conservation Review Series, No. 16. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee. 675 pp.
Esin, D., Ginter, M., Ivanov, A., Lebedev, O., Luksevics, E., Avkhimovitch, V., Golubtsov, V. & Petukhova, L. 2000. Vertebrate correlation of the Upper Devonian and Lower Carboniferous on the East European Platform. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 223, 341349.
Eyles, V. A., Simpson, J. B. & MacGregor, A. G. 1949. Geology of Central Ayrshire. Memoirs of the Geological Survey, Scotland. Explanation of one-inch sheet 14. 2nd edn, reprinted 1980. Edinburgh: HMSO.
Friend, P. F. & Williams, B. P. 1978. Devonian of Scotland, the Welsh Borderland and South Wales, 1106. Bristol: International Symposium on the Devonian System. Palaeontological Association Devonian System.
Grieg, D. C. 1988. Geology of the Eyemouth District. Memoir for the 1:50 000 geological sheet 34 (Scotland), 178. Edinburgh: HMSO.
Hance, L., Poty, E. & Devuyst, F-X. 2006. Tournaisian. Geological Belgica 9, 4753.
Hartenfels, S., Hartkopf-Fröder, C., Herbig, H.-G., Becker, R. T. & Esteban Lopez, S. 2016. Middle Famennian to Viséan stratigraphy at Riescheid (Herzkamp Syncline, Rhenish Massif). Münstersche Forschungen zur Geologie und Paläontologie 108, 102125.
Hartz, E. H., Torsvik, T. H. & Andresen, A. 1997. Carboniferous age for the East Greenland “Devonian” basin: palaeomagnetic and isotopic constraints on age, stratigraphy, and plate reconstructions. Geology 25, 675678.
Hartz, E. H., Torsvik, T. H. & Andresen, A. 1998. Carboniferous age for the East Greenland “Devonian” basin: paleomagnetic and isotopic constraints on age, stratigraphy, and plate reconstructions: reply. Geology 26, 285286.
Hennessy, D. & Higgs, K. T. 1999. Palynological zonation of the Late Devonian and Early Carboniferous of the Avon Gorge, southwest England. Bollettino della Società Paleontologica Italiana 38, 177186.
Higgins, A. C. & Varker, W. J. 1982. Lower Carboniferous conodont faunas from Ravenstonedale, Cumbria. Palaeontology 25, 145166.
Higgs, K. 1975. Upper Devonian and Lower Carboniferous miospore assemblages from Hook Head, County Wexford, Ireland. Micropalaeontology 21, 393419.
Higgs, K., Clayton, G. & Keegan, J. B. 1988. Stratigraphic and systematic palynology of the Tournaisian rocks of Ireland. The Geological Survey of Ireland, Special Paper Number 7, 193.
Higgs, K. T., Dreesen, R., Dusar, M. & Streel, M. 1992. Palynostratigraphy of the Tournaisian (Hastarian) rocks in the Namur Synclinorium, West Flanders, Belgium. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 72, 149158.
Holliday, D. W., Neves, R. & Owens, B. 1979. Stratigraphy and palynology of early Dinantian (Carboniferous) strata in shallow boreholes near Ravenstonedale, Cumbria. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 42, 343356.
Jarvik, E. 1948. Note on the Upper Devonian Vertebrate Fauna of East Greenland and on the age of the Ichthyostegid Stegocephalians. Arkiv för Zoologi 41, 18.
Jarvik, E. 1950. Note on Middle Devonian crossopterygians from the eastern part of Gauss Halvö, East Greenland. Meddeleleser om Grønland 149, 120.
Jarvik, E. 1961. Devonian vertebrates. In Raasch, G. O. (ed.) Geology of the Arctic 1, 197204. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Jarvik, E. 1996. The Devonian tetrapod Ichthyostega. Fossils and Strata 40, 1213.
Johnson, G. A. L. & Marshall, A. E. 1971. Tournaisian beds in Ravenstonedale, Westmorland. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 38, 261280.
Jongmans, W. J. & Gothan, W. 1937. Betrachtungen über die Ergebnisse des zweiten Kongresses für Karbonstratigraphie. Deuxième Congrès International de Stratigraphie et de Gèologie du Carbonifère, Herleen, 1935, Compte Rendu 1, 140.
Jutras, P., Young, G. M. & Caldwell, W. G. E. 2011. Reinterpretation of James Hutton's historic discovery on the Isle of Arran as a double unconformity masked by a phreatic calcrete hardpan. Geology 39, 147150.
Kearsey, T. I., Bennett, C. E., Millward, D., Davies, S. J., Gowing, C. J. B., Kemp, S. J., Leng, M. J., Marshall, J. E. A. & Browne, M. A. E. 2016. The terrestrial landscapes of tetrapod evolution in earliest Carboniferous seasonal wetlands of SE Scotland. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 457, 5269.
Keegan, J. B. 1981. Palynological correlation of the Upper Devonian and Lower Carboniferous in central Ireland. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 19, 545573.
Lakin, J. A., Marshall, J. E. A., Troth, I. & Harding, I. C. 2016. Greenhouse to icehouse: a biostratigraphic review of latest Devonian–Mississippian glaciations and their global effects. In Becker, R. T., Königshof, P. & Brett, C. E. (eds) Devonian climate, sea level and evolutionary events 423, 439464. London: Geological Society, Special Publication.
Leeder, M. R. 1976. Palaeogeographic significance of pedogenic carbonates in the topmost Upper Old Red Sandstone of the Scottish border basin. Geological Journal 11, 2128.
Marshall, J. E. A., Astin, T. R. & Clack, J. A. 1999. The East Greenland tetrapods are Devonian in age. Geology 27, 637640.
Matyja, H., Turnau, E. & Żbikowska, B. 2000. Lower Carboniferous (Mississippian) stratigraphy of Northwestern Poland: conodont, miospore and ostracod zones compared. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae 70, 193217.
Maziane, N., Higgs, K. T. & Streel, M. 1999. Revision of the late Famennian miospore zonation scheme in eastern Belgium. Journal of Micropalaeontology 18, 1725.
Maziane, N., Higgs, K. T. & Streel, M. 2002. Biometry and paleoenvironment of Retispore lepidophyta (Kedo) Playford 1976 and associated miospores in the latest Famennian nearshore marine facies, eastern Ardenne (Belgium). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 118, 211226.
McNestry, A. 1988. The palynostratigraphy of two uppermost Devonian-Lower Carboniferous borehole sections in South Wales. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 56, 6987.
Miles, R. S. 1968. The Old Red Sandstone Antiarchs of Scotland, Family Bothriolepididae. Palaeontographical Society Monographs 122, 1130.
Millward, D., Davies, S. J., Brand, P. J., Browne, M. A. E., Bennett, C. E., Kearsey, T. I., Sherwin, J. E. & Marshall, J. E. A. 2019. Palaeogeography of tropical seasonal coastal wetlands in northern Britain during the early Mississippian Romer's Gap. Earth and Environmental Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. DOI: 10.1017/S1755691018000737.
Neves, R., Gueinn, K. J., Clayton, G., Ioannides, N. S., Neville, R. S. W. & Kruszewska, K. 1973. Palynological correlations within the Lower Carboniferous of Scotland and Northern England. Transaction of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 69, 2370.
Neves, R. & Belt, E. S. 1971. Some observations on Namurian and Viséan spores from Nova Scotia, Britain and Northern Spain. Sixième Congrès International de Stratigraphie et de Géologie du Carbonifere (6th), Sheffield, England 1967, 12331249.
Neves, R. & Ioannides, N. 1974. Palynology of the Spilmersford Borehole. Bulletin of the Geological Survey of Great Britain 45, 7397.
Nicholson, J. & Friend, P. F. 1976. Devonian sediments of East Greenland. V. The central sequence, Kap Graah Group and Mount Celsius Supergroup. Meddelelser om Grønland 206, 1117.
Olsen, H. & Larsen, P.-H. 1993. Lithostratigraphy of the continental Devonian sediments in North-East Greenland. Bulletin of the Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse 165, 1108.
Patterson, C. & Fortey, R. A. 1999. Thomas Stanley Westoll, 3 July 1912–19 September 1995. Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society 45, 531546.
Playford, G. & Melo, J. H. G. 2012. Miospore palynology and biostratigraphy of Mississippian strata of the Amazonas Basin, northern Brazil. AASP Contributions Series 47, 1201.
Prestianni, C., Sautois, M. & Denayer, J. 2016. Disrupted continental environments around the Devonian-Carboniferous Boundary: introduction of the tener event. Geologica Belgica 19, 135145.
Read, W. A., Browne, M. A. E., Stephenson, D. & Upton, B. G. J. 2002. Carboniferous. In Trewin, N. G. (ed.) Geology of Scotland, 251299. London: The Geological Society.
Romer, A. S. 1945. Vertebrate paleontology. 2nd edn. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Sallan, L. C. & Coates, M. I. 2010. End-Devonian extinction and a bottleneck in the early evolution of modern jawed vertebrates. PNAS 107, 10131–35.
Säve-Söderbergh, G. 1934. Further contributions to the Devonian stratigraphy of East Greenland. Meddeleleser om Grønland 96, 174.
Schultze, H.-P. 2009. The international influence of the Stockholm School. Acta Zoologica 90(Suppl. 1), 2237.
Scott, A. C., Galtier, J. & Clayton, G. 1984. Distribution of anatomically-preserved floras in the Lower Carboniferous in Western Europe. Transaction of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences 75, 311340.
Smithson, T. R., Wood, S. P., Marshall, J. E. A. & Clack, J. A. 2012. Earliest Carboniferous tetrapod and arthropod faunas from Scotland populate Romer's Gap. PNAS 109, 45324537.
Stemmerik, L. & Bendix-Almgreen, S. E. 1998. Carboniferous age for the East Greenland “Devonian” basin: paleomagnetic and isotopic constraints on age, stratigraphy, and plate reconstructions: comment. Geology 26, 284285.
Stephenson, M., Williams, M., Monaghan, A., Arkley, S. & Smith, R. 2002. Biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironments of the Ballagan Formation (lower Carboniferous) in Ayrshire, SW Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology 38, 93111.
Stephenson, M. H., Williams, M., Monaghan, A. A., Arkley, S., Smith, R. A., Dean, M., Brown, M. A. E. & Leng, M. 2004a. Palynomorph and ostracod biostratigraphy palaeoenvironments of the Ballagan Formation, Midland Valley of Scotland, and elucidation of intra-Dinantian unconformities. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 55, 131143.
Stephenson, M. H., Williams, M., Leng, M. J. & Monaghan, A. A. 2004b. Aquatic plant microfossils of probable non-vascular origin from the Ballagan Formation (Lower Carboniferous), Midland Valley, Scotland. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 55, 145148.
Stevens, L. G., Hilton, J., Rees, A. R., Rothwell, G. W. & Bateman, R. M. 2010. Systematics, phylogenetics, and reproductive biology of Flemingites arcuatus sp. nov., an exceptionally preserved and partially reconstructed Carboniferous arborescent lycopsid. International Journal of Plant Sciences 171, 783808.
Streel, M. 2009. Upper Devonian miospore and conodont zone correlation in Western Europe. In Königshof, P. (ed.) Devonian change: case studies in palaeogeography and palaeoecology 314, 163176. Special Publication of the Geological Society of London, Bath, UK.
Streel, M. & Marshall, J. E. A. 2006. Devonian-Carboniferous boundary global correlations and their paleogeographic implications for assembly of Pangaea. In Wong, Th. E. (ed.) Proceedings of the XVth international congress on Carboniferous and Permian stratigraphy. Utrecht, the Netherlands, 10–16 August 2003, 481496. Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Sullivan, H. 1968. A Tournaisian spore flora from the Cementstone Group of Ayrshire, Scotland. Palaeontology 11, 116131.
Tomkieff, S. I. 1945. Petrology of the Carboniferous rocks of the Tweed Basin. Transactions of the Edinburgh Geological Society 14, 5375.
Turnau, E. 1978. Spore zonation of uppermost Devonian and Lower Carboniferous deposits of Western Pomerania (N. Poland). Mededelingen rijks geologische dienst 30–31, 135.
Turnau, E. 2002. Two new Devonian spore genera from Euramerica and their stratigraphic and geographic distribution. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 118, 261268.
Utting, J., Keppie, J. D. & Giles, P. S. 1989. Palynology and stratigraphy of the Lower Carboniferous Horton Group, Nova Scotia. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin 396, 117143.
Van der Zwan, C. J., Boulter, M. C. & Hubbard, R. N. L. B. 1985. Climatic change during the Lower Carboniferous in Euramerica, based on multivariate statistical analysis of palynological data. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 52, 120.
Varker, W. J. & Higgins, A. C. 1979. Conodont evidence for the age of the Pinskey Gill Beds of Ravenstonedale, North-West England. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 42, 357369.
Varker, W. J. & Sevastopulo, G. D. 1985. The Carboniferous system: part 1 – conodonts of the Dinantian subsystem from Great Britain and Ireland. In Higgins, A. C. & Austin, R. L. (eds) A stratigraphical index of conodonts, 167209. Chichester: British Micropalaeontological Society Series, Ellis Horwood.
Vigran, J. O., Stemmerik, L. & Piasecki, S. 1999. Stratigraphy and depositional evolution of the uppermost Devonian-Carboniferous (Tournaisian-Westphalian) non-marine deposits in North-East Greenland. Palynology 23, 115152.
Waters, C. N., Somerville, I. D., Jones, N. S., Cleal, C. J., Collinson, J. D., Waters, R. A., Besly, B. M., Dean, M. T., Stephenson, M. H., Davies, J. R., Freshney, E. C., Jackson, D. I., Mitchell, W. I., Powell, J. H., Barclay, W. J., Browne, M. A. E., Leveridge, B. E., Long, S. L. & McLean, D. 2011. A revised correlation of the Carboniferous rocks in the British Isles. Geological Society of London, Special Report 26, 1186.
Waterston, C. D. 1965. Devonian. In Craig, G. Y. (ed.) Geology of Scotland. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd.
Welsh, A. 1979. Stratigraphic palynology of the Early Dinantian strata in shallow boreholes at Ravenstonedale, Cumbria. The Sheffield University Geological Society Journal 7, 194202.
Westoll, T. S. 1938. Ancestry of the tetrapods. Nature 141, 127128.
Westoll, T. S., 1940 Contribution to discussion on the boundary between the Old Red Sandstone and the Carboniferous. Reports of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, no. 2, for 1939–40, 258.
Westoll, T. S. 1943. The origin of the tetrapods. Biological Reviews 18, 7898.
Westoll, T. S. 1951. The vertebrate-bearing strata of Scotland: International Geological Congress, Reports, 18th Session, Great Britain, pt. 11, 5–21, XVIII, London: Geologorum Conventus.
Westoll, T. S. 1977. Northern Britain. In House, M. R., Richardson, J. B., Chaloner, W. G., Allen, J. R. L., Holland, C. H. & Westoll, T. S. (eds) A correlation of the Devonian rocks in the British Isles, 6693. Geological Society of London, Special Report 7. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
Wright, V. P., Turner, M. S., Andrews, J. E. & Spiro, B. 1993. Morphology and significance of super-mature calcretes from the Upper Old Red Sandstone of Scotland. Journal of the Geological Society 150, 871883.
Young, G. M. & Caldwell, W. G. E. 2009. A new look at an old unconformity: field and geochemical data from James Hutton's original unconformity on the Isle of Arran, Scotland. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 120, 6575.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed