Sequential development of platform to off-platform facies of the great American carbonate bank in the central Appalachians: chapter 15

AAPG Memoir
By: , and 



In the central Appalachians, carbonate deposition of the great American carbonate bank began during the Early Cambrian with the creation of initial ramp facies of the Vintage Formation and lower members of the Tomstown Formation. Vertical stacking of bioturbated subtidal ramp deposits (Bolivar Heights Member) and dolomitized microbial boundtsone (Fort Duncan Member) preceded the initiation of platform sedimentation and creation of sand shoal facies (Benevola Member) that was followed by the development of peritidal cyclicity (Daragan Member). Initiation of peritidal deposition coincided with the development of a rimmed platform that would persist throughout much of the Cambrian and Early Odrovician. At the end of deposition of the Waynesboro Formation, the platform became subaerially exposed because of the Hawke Bay regression, bringing the Sauk I supersequence to and end. In the Conestoga Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Early Cambrian ramp deposition was succeeded by deposition of platform-margin and periplatfrom facies of the Kinzers Formation.

The basal Sauk II transgression during the early Middle Cambrian submerged the platform and reinitiated the pertidal cyclicity that had characterized the pre-Hawke Bay deposition, This thick stack of meter-scale cycles is preserved as the Pleasant Hill and Warrior Formations of the Nittany arch, the Elbrook Formation of the Great Valley, and the Zooks Corner Formations of the Conestoga Valley. Deposition of peritidal cycles was interrupted during deposition of the Glossopleura and Bathuriscus-Elrathina Biozones by third-order deepening episodes that submerged the platform with subtidal facies. Regressive facies of the Sauk II supersequence produced platform-wide restrictions and the deposition of the lower sandy member of the Gatesburg Formation, the Big Spring Station Member of the Conococheague Formation, and the Snitz Creek Formation. Submergence of the platform was initiated during the late Steptoean (Elvinia Zone) with the epansion of extensive subtidal thrombotic boundstone facies. Vertical stacking of no fewer than four of these thrombolite-dominated intervals records third-order deepening episodes separated by intervening shallowing episodes that produced peritidal ribbony and laminated mudcracked dolostone.

The maximum deepening of the Sauk III transgression produced the Stonehenge Formation in two separate and distinct third-order submergences. Circulation restriction during the Sauk III regression produced a thick stack of meter-scale cycles of the Rockdale Run Formation, and the lower Bellefonte Dolomite of the Nittany arch (central Pennsylvania). This regressive phase was interrupted by a third-order deepening event that produced the oolitic member of the lower Rockdale Run and the Woodsboro Member of the Grove Formation in the Frederick Valley. Restricted circulation continued into the Whiterockian, with deposition of the upper Rockdale Run and the Pinesberg Station Dolomite in the Great Valley and the missile and upper parts of the Bellefonte Dolomore and the Nittany Arch region. This deposition was continuous from the Ibexian into the Whiterockian; the succession lacks significant unconformities and there are no missing biozones through this interval, the top of which marks the end of the Sauk megasequence.

During deposition of the Tippecanoe megasequence, the peritidal shelf cycles were reestablished during deposition of the St. Paul Group. The vertical stacking of lithologies in the Row Park and New Market Limestones represents transgressive and regressice facies of a third-order deepening event. This submergence reached its maximum deepening within the lower Row Park Limestone and extended with the Nittany arch region with deposition of equivalent Loysburg Formation.. Shallow tidal-flat deposits were bordered to the south and east by deep-water ramp deposits of the Lincolnshire Formation. The St. Paul Group is succeeded upsection by ramp facies of the Chamersberg and the Edinburg Formations in the Great Valley, whereas shallow-shelf sedimentation continued in the Nittany-arch area with the depostion of the Hatter Limestoen and the Snyder and Linden Hall Formations. Carbonate deposition on the great American carbonate bank was brought to an end when it was buried beneath clastic flysch deposits of the Martinsberg Formation. Foundering of the bamk was diachronus, and the flysch seidments prograded from east to west.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Sequential development of platform to off-platform facies of the great American carbonate bank in the central Appalachians: chapter 15
Series title AAPG Memoir
DOI 10.1306/13331500M983500
Volume 98
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher AAPG
Publisher location Tulsa, OK
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 38 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title The great American carbonate bank: The geology and economic resources of the Cambrian–Ordovician Sauk megasequence of Laurentia
First page 383
Last page 420
Country United States
State Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
Other Geospatial Appalachians
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N