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Micropaleontology across the Precambrian—Cambrian boundary in Spitsbergen

  • Andrew H. Knoll (a1) and Keene Swett (a2)


Paleobiological studies of early metazoan evolution are critically dependent on the accurate stratigraphic subdivision and correlation of uppermost Proterozoic and Lower Cambrian sequences. Planktonic microfossils evolved rapidly during this period and are widely distributed and abundant in Vendian and Lower Cambrian rocks; therefore, they provide what is potentially one of the best means of correlating successions of this age. In Ny Friesland, Spitsbergen, tillite-bearing detrital rocks of the uppermost Proterozoic Polarisbreen Group are overlain without apparent unconformity by the Tokammane Formation, a tripartite lithologic sequence consisting of quartzarenites (Blårevbreen Member) overlain by dark shales with subordinate sandstone (Topiggane Member) and dolomites (Ditlovtoppen Member). Salterella, hyoliths, and other invertebrate remains occur in the upper part of the Tokammane succession; trace fossils are found in the Tokammane quartzarenites and shales, as well as in the uppermost few meters of the Polarisbreen sequence. Planktonic microfossils occur throughout the succession. They indicate that the Polarisbreen Group is Vendian in age and that a hiatus corresponding in time to the latest Vendian and (perhaps) earliest Cambrian coincides with the Polarisbreen/Tokammane boundary. Lower Topiggane shale samples contain acritarchs comparable to those found in the sub-Holmia Lontova Beds of Eastern Europe. Upper Topiggane samples contain diverse acritarch assemblages that indicate a late Holmia or Protolenus age, suggesting the presence of a second hiatus within the Tokammane Formation. Planktonic microfossils allow biostratigraphic correlation with other sequences both within (East Greenland) and between (East European Platform) paleocontinents. Like those from other areas, diversity trends exhibited by late Proterozoic and Early Cambrian acritarchs from Spitsbergen indicate a major Vendian episode of extinction followed by Early Cambrian rediversification of planktonic microfossils.



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Micropaleontology across the Precambrian—Cambrian boundary in Spitsbergen

  • Andrew H. Knoll (a1) and Keene Swett (a2)


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