Middle Triassic molluscan fossils of biostratigraphic significance from the Humboldt Range, northwestern Nevada

Professional Paper 1207
By:  and 



Cephalopods and bivalves of the genus Daonella occur at certain levels throughout the Middle Triassic section in the Humboldt Range, northwestern Nevada. These fossiliferous strata are assigned to the Fossil Hill Member and upper member of the Prida Formation, which here forms the oldest part of the Star Peak Group. The distribution and abundance of fossils within the section is uneven, partly because of original depositional patterns within the dominantly calcareous succession and partly because of diagenetic secondary dolomitization and hydrothermal metamorphism in parts of the range.

Lower and middle Anisian fossil localities are restricted to the northern part of the range and are scattered, so that only three demonstrably distinct stratigraphic levels are represented. Cephalopods from these localities are characteristic of the Caurus Zone and typify the lower and upper parts of the Hyatti Zone, a new zonal unit whose faunas have affinity with those from the older parts of the Varium Zone in Canada.

The upper Anisian and lowermost Ladinian, as exposed in the vicinity of Fossil Hill in the southern part of the range, are extremely fossiliferous. Cephalopod and Daonella shells form a major component of many of the limestone interbeds in the calcareous fine-grained clastic section here. Stratigraphically controlled bedrock collections representing at least 20 successive levels have been made from the Fossil Hill area, which is the type locality for the Rotelliformis, Meeki, and Occidentalis Zones of the upper Anisian and the Subasperum Zone of the lower Ladinian. Above the Subasperum Zone fossils are again scarce; upper Ladinian faunas representing the Daonella lommeli beds occur at only a few places in the upper member of the Prida Formation.

Although unevenly fossiliferous, the succession of Middle Triassic cephalopod and Daonella faunas in the Humboldt Range is one of the most complete of any known in the world. Newly collected faunas from this succession provide the basis for revising the classic monograph on Middle Triassic marine invertebrates of North America published in 1914 by J. P. Smith and based largely on stratigraphically uncontrolled collections from the Humboldt Range. Taxonomic treatment of these collections, old and new, from the Humboldt Range provides the documentation necessary to establish this Middle Triassic succession as a biostratigraphic standard of reference.

Of the 68 species of ammonites described or discussed, 4 are from the lower Anisian, 20 from the middle Anisian, 39 from the upper Anisian, 4 from the lower Ladinian, and 1 from the upper Ladinian. A few additional ammonite species from other localities in Nevada are also treated in order to clarify their morphologic characteristics and stratigraphic occurrence. Other elements in the Middle Triassic molluscan faunas of the Humboldt Range comprise five species of nautiloids and three of coleoids from the middle and upper Anisian parts of the section. Eight more or less stratigraphically restricted species of Daonella occur in the upper Anisian and Ladinian.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Middle Triassic molluscan fossils of biostratigraphic significance from the Humboldt Range, northwestern Nevada
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1207
DOI 10.3133/pp1207
Year Published 1982
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Description Report: v, 77 p. plus plates 4-38; 3 plates: 14.74 x 15.83 inches or less
Country United States
State Nevada
Other Geospatial Humboldt Range