Two framework-supported, poorly bedded conglomerate units of the middle Upper Pennsylvanian and middle Lower Permian Strathearn Formation belonging to the overlap assemblage of the Antler orogen are prominent in the northern Carlin trend. These horizons stratigraphically and temporally bracket thrust emplacement of a major allochthonous thrust plate of mainly quartzarenite of the Ordovician Vinini Formation. Lithologic and shape-ratio data from approximately 4,200 pebbles and cobbles at 17 sites as well as biostratigraphic data in the Strathearn, and their geologic implications, are included in this report. Conodont biofacies throughout the Strathearn Formation are normal marine and suggest middle shelf or deeper depositional environments. The conglomerate units roughly are similar in that they contain only chert and quartzarenite pebbles, but they differ in compositional proportions of the two lithologies. The relative proportion of quartzarenite pebbles increases sixfold in the middle Lower Permian upper conglomerate unit versus its content in the middle Upper Pennsylvanian lower unit, whereas chert pebbles predominate in both units. Various roundness categories of chert pebbles in both conglomerate units of the Strathearn show that the equant pebble class (B/A) = 1 clearly is represented strongly even in the subangular category, the lowest roundness categories for the pebbles. Thus, development of equant pebbles cannot be ascribed totally to a rounding process during predeposition transport. The equant character of many pebbles might, in part, be an original feature inherited from pre-erosion rock fractures and (or) bedding that control overall form of the fragments prior to their release to the transport environment. The allochthon of the Coyote thrust has been thrust above the lower conglomerate unit of the Strathearn during a regionally extensive contractional event in the late Paleozoic. The middle Lower Permian upper conglomerate unit, highest unit recognized in the Strathearn Formation, as well as similarly-aged dolomitic siltstone, onlap directly onto quartzarenite that comprises the allochthon of the Coyote thrust. The conglomerate units thus represent submarine fanglomerates whose quartz grains and quartzarenite fragments of variable roundness and shape were derived from a sedimentologically restored largely southeastward advancing late Paleozoic allochthonous lobe of mostly quartzarenite of the Ordovician Vinini Formation. Chert fragments in the conglomerates probably were derived mostly from Devonian Slaven Chert, including a widespread thick melange unit of the Slaven in the footwall of the Coyote thrust. Some chert pebbles may have been derived from the Ordovician Vinini Formation.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Sedimentology of the Pennsylvanian and Permian Strathearn Formation, Northern Carlin Trend, Nevada; with a section on microfossil controls on the age of the Strathearn Formation
U.S. Geological Survey
Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center