Differences in lithofacies and biofacies suggest that lower Paleozoic rocks now exposed in Arctic Alaska and the Canadian Arctic Islands did not form as part of a single depositional system. Lithologic contrasts are noted in shallow- and deep-water strata and are especially marked in Ordovician and Silurian rocks. A widespread intraplatform basin of Early and Middle Ordovician age in northern Alaska has no counterpart in the Canadian Arctic, and the regional drowning and backstepping of the Silurian shelf margin in Canada has no known parallel in northern Alaska. Lower Paleozoic basinal facies in northern Alaska are chiefly siliciclastic, whereas resedimented carbonates are volumetrically important in Canada. Micro- and macrofossil assemblages from northern Alaska contain elements typical of both Siberian and Laurentian biotic provinces; coeval Canadian Arctic assemblages contain Laurentian forms but lack Siberian species. Siberian affinities in northern Alaskan biotas persist from at least Middle Cambrian through Mississippian time and appear to decrease in intensity from present-day west to east. Our lithologic and biogeographic data are most compatible with the hypothesis that northern Alaska-Chukotka formed a discrete tectonic block situated between Siberia and Laurentia in early Paleozoic time. If Arctic Alaska was juxtaposed with the Canadian Arctic prior to opening of the Canada basin, biotic constraints suggest that such juxtaposition took place no earlier than late Paleozoic time.
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Facies patterns and conodont biogeography in Arctic Alaska and the Canadian Arctic Islands: Evidence against juxtaposition of these areas during early Paleozoic time