Articles | Volume 18, issue 2
Foss. Rec., 18, 105–117, 2015
Foss. Rec., 18, 105–117, 2015

Research article 10 Jun 2015

Research article | 10 Jun 2015

Chemo- and biostratigraphy of the Gaojiashan section (northern Yangtze platform, South China): a new Pc-C boundary section

A. Gamper1, U. Struck1, F. Ohnemueller2, C. Heubeck*,3, and S. Hohl3 A. Gamper et al.
  • 1Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Invalidenstraße 43, 10115 Berlin, Germany
  • 2Department of Geosciences and MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Leobener Str., 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 3Institut für Geologische Wissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, Malteserstraße 74-100, 12249 Berlin, Germany
  • *Present address: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Chemisch-Geowissenschaftliche Fakultät, Institut für Geowissenschaften, Burgweg 11, 07749 Jena, Germany

Abstract. The widespread, terminal Ediacaran Dengying Formation (~ 551–~ 542 Ma) of South China hosts one of the most prominent negative carbonate carbon isotope excursions in Earth's history and thus bears on the correlation of the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary worldwide. The dominantly carbonate strata of the Dengying Formation are largely studied for their unique preservation of its terminal Ediacaran fauna but their geochemical context is poorly known. This study presents the first high-resolution stable isotope record (δ13C, δ18O) of calcareous siliciclastic shallow-water deposits of the Gaojiashan section (Shaanxi Province). The section includes (in ascending order) the Algal Dolomite Member, the Gaojiashan Member and the Beiwan Member of the Dengying Formation. Our data record a major δ13Ccarb negative excursion to −6 ‰ in the uppermost Gaojiashan Member which is comparable in shape and magnitude to the global Precambrian–Cambrian boundary negative δ13C excursion. Our data set is consistent with a "shallow-water anoxia" scenario which is thought to contribute to the "Cambrian explosion". The stratigraphic occurrence of Cloudina and a large negative δ13C excursion suggest that the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary is located near the top of the Gaojiashan Member and, consequently, that overlying carbonates and dolomites of the Beiwan Member are of earliest Cambrian age. Thus the Gaojiashan section may represent a new shallow-water section spanning the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary. Although bio- and chemostratigraphic data support this novel interpretation, we cannot exclude the possibility that the key excursions may represent a local perturbation indicating a restricted-basin environment.