Twenty-one species of corals and three species of spongiomorphs occur in a series of richly fossiliferous, molluscan-dominated beds with silicified bioclasts in the Upper Triassic Martin Bridge Limestone of Hells Canyon, Oregon. Two of these, Maeandrostylis grandiseptus and Recticostastraea wallowaensis are new species. Recticostastraea is designated as a new genus.
The fauna is early Norian and occurs in the island arc Wallowa terrane, one of many tectonostratigraphic terranes in western North America. Like other examples, it appears to have developed independently of the North American craton and to have links with Wrangellia. The fossil corals and spongiomorphs are para-autochthonous, occurring in a series of tempestite beds. They are interpreted to have inhabited a shallow-water carbonate platform that developed around a tropical island arc following cessation of volcanic activity. The corals and spongiomorphs are associated with abundant gastropods and a diverse epifaunal suspension-feeding bivalve fauna. Relative to the corals, branching spongiomorphs, Spongiomorpha ramosa, are more abundant and occur with relatively common branching, sheet to plate-like, colonial corals. Solitary corals are relatively rare. The associated bedded limestone includes a variety of shallow-water microfacies but throughout the Hells Canyon sequence, reef structure is absent.
Together, the 24 coral and spongiomorph taxa show mixed paleogeographic affinities with Upper Triassic faunas known only from alpine regions of the western Tethys (five species), the Pamir Mountains, U.S.S.R. (two species), and the island of Timor (one species). Five additional species are pan-Tethyan and exceptionally cosmopolitan, but 11 species (45.8%) occur only in displaced terranes. Of these, a significant component (six species) is endemic to the Wallowa terrane. At least four Hells Canyon taxa, previously thought endemic to North American terranes, have recently been reported from the high-latitude Koryak terrane of northeastern U.S.S.R., a displaced tropical volcanic terrane of the northwestern Pacific. For Triassic corals, this is the first example of a clear link between western Pacific and eastern Pacific terranes. Less similarity exists with the Wrangell Mountains, Alaska, where identical age lower Norian silicified corals and spongiomorphs are known.