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Deciphering the mid-Carboniferous eustatic event in the central Appalachian foreland basin, southern West Virginia, USA

Special Paper of the Geological Society of America

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DOI: 10.1130/2008.2441(17)

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Abstract

A prominent unconformity, present across shallow shelf areas of the Euramerican paleoequatorial basins, is used to demark the boundary between the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian subsystems. This unconformity, the mid-Carboniferous eustatic event, is generally attributed to a major glacio-eustatic sea-level fall. Although a Mississippian-Pennsylvanian unconformity is recognized throughout most of the Appalachian region, the record of the mid-Carboniferous eustatic event in the structurally deepest part of the basin has been controversial. Based on early reports that suggested the most complete Pennsylvanian section was present in southern West Virginia, various conceptual depositional models postulated continuous sedimentation between the youngest Mississippian Bluestone Formation and the oldest Penn-sylvanian Pocahontas Formation. In contrast, tabular-erosion models envisioned axial drainage systems that evolved in response to changing basin dynamics. These models predicted a Mississippian-Pennsylvanian unconformity. All these models suffered from a lack of biostratigraphic control. The presence of a sub-Pocahontas paleovalley, herein named the Lashmeet paleovalley, has been confirmed in southern West Virginia. The Lashmeet paleovalley was incised over 35 m into Bluestone strata and filled by lithic sands derived from the Appalachian orogen to the northeast and east. The polygenetic Green Valley paleosol complex marks the Bluestone-Pocahontas contact on associated interfluves. Together, these features indicate a substantial period of subaerial exposure and argue strongly in favor of a Mississippian-Pennsylvanian unconformity. Paleontologic data from the Bluestone Formation, including marine invertebrates and conodonts from the marine Bramwell Member and paleofloral data, support a late, but not latest, Arnsbergian age assignment. Marine fossils are not known from the Pocahontas Formation, but macrofloral and palynomorph taxa support a Langsettian age for most of the Poca-hontas. The biostratigraphic, sedimentologic, and paleogeographic data support the presence of an early Pennsylvanian (middle to late Namurian) disconformity in the Appalachian Basin that corresponds to the mid-Carboniferous eustatic event. ?? 2008 Geological Society of America.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Deciphering the mid-Carboniferous eustatic event in the central Appalachian foreland basin, southern West Virginia, USA
Series title:
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
DOI:
10.1130/2008.2441(17)
Issue:
441
Year Published:
2008
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
249
Last page:
260
Number of Pages:
12