Phytoplankton dynamics across the Ordovician/Silurian boundary at low palaeolatitudes: correlations with carbon isotopic and glacial events.

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Delabroye A, Munnecke A, Vecoli M, Copper P, Tribovillard N, Joachimski M, Desrochers A, Servais T, Munnecke A
Journal: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2011
Volume: 312
Pages range: 79-97
ISSN: 0031-0182
Language: English


The Late Ordovician culminated in a major glacial period that has been related to one of the strongest mass extinctions recorded during the Phanerozoic. During this interval, Anticosti Island (Québec, eastern Canada) was located at low to intermediate palaeolatitudes (15-30° S) on the eastern margin of Laurentia. It displays a relatively complete section across the Ordovician-Silurian (O/S) boundary. Upper Ordovician to Lower Silurian strata of Anticosti studied here comprise the Vauréal (Katian), Ellis Bay (Hirnantian) and Becscie (latest Hirnantian-Rhuddanian) formations. Phytoplankton dynamics inferred from the acritarch content of these strata are locally compared with new geochemical environmental proxies (δ13C), with recent palynological data from Baltica and also with phytoplankton dynamics as described from near-polar, high latitude localities of the Gondwana region. Two positive excursions of the carbon isotope record have been identified in the lower and upper Ellis Bay Formation.Overall, phytoplankton trends are as follows: (1) as with chitinozoans, conodonts, brachiopods and corals, acritarchs from Anticosti display a major turn-over during the early Hirnantian (uppermost Vauréal Formation-lower Ellis Bay Formation), with the appearance of taxa that exhibit Silurian affinities (e.g., Tylotopalla sp., Ammonidium sp., Oppilatala sp., Evittia sp., Dilatisphaera spp.). High polymorphism for some common taxa is observed in the interval corresponding to the first δ13C positive excursion. Using sequence stratigraphy, this period may be related to a first glacially driven sea-level drawdown corresponding to terrestrial ice-sheet growth on Gondwana, such as recorded in Morocco. (2) Subsequently, during the late Hirnantian of Anticosti (uppermost Ellis Bay Formation), phytoplanktic communities suffered a crisis, exemplified by the disappearance of several typical, large Late Ordovician taxa (i.e., Orthosphaeridium spp., Peteinosphaeridium spp., large Baltisphaeridum spp., Sacculidium sp.). The lower Becscie strata, corresponding to the time of deglaciation at the O/S boundary interval, only contain a low diversity assemblage dominated by large acritarchs of the genus Hoegklintia and other morphologically related forms, and a few tolerant and long-ranging taxa (e.g., Evittia remota, Micrhystridium spp., leiospheres). Despite a possible taphonomic bias in the uppermost Ellis Bay Formation, the major crisis in the late Hirnantian coincides with the second δ13C excursion and a second, stronger glacially-driven sea-level fall corresponding to the time of the maximum extend of the ice sheets on Gondwana. (3) Such phytoplankton events have also been detected in Gondwanan ice-center area, but with "typical Ordovician taxa crises" occurring apparently later when plotted against positive carbon isotope excursions, as also observed in Baltica. This time-lag may be linked to a basin configuration of the studied areas, where environmental stress consequently differed or linked to the presence of omission surfaces coupled with preservation bias of acritarch assemblages in the uppermost Ordovician strata of Anticosti. In addition to their biostratigraphic and palaeobiogeographic utility, acritarchs turn out to be more specific in highlighting palaeoenvironmental conditions. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Joachimski, Michael Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Geologie (Exogene Dynamik)
Munnecke, Axel Prof. Dr.
Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Munnecke, Axel Prof. Dr.
Professur für Paläontologie (Schwerpunkt Faziesanalyse)

External institutions
Laurentian University
LILLE 1 University - Science and Technology
Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier
University of Ottawa

How to cite

Delabroye, A., Munnecke, A., Vecoli, M., Copper, P., Tribovillard, N., Joachimski, M.,... Munnecke, A. (2011). Phytoplankton dynamics across the Ordovician/Silurian boundary at low palaeolatitudes: correlations with carbon isotopic and glacial events. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 312, 79-97.

Delabroye, Aurelien, et al. "Phytoplankton dynamics across the Ordovician/Silurian boundary at low palaeolatitudes: correlations with carbon isotopic and glacial events." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 312 (2011): 79-97.


Last updated on 2018-14-12 at 09:13