Late Devonian carbon isotope stratigraphy and sea level fluctuations, Canning Basin, Western Australia

Nat P. Stephens and Dawn Y. Sumner

2003, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 191, p. 203-219

The Late Devonian reef complex of the Canning Basin contains some of the world’s best exposed, continuous stratigraphic sections through the Frasnian-Famennian boundary. Sequence stratigraphy and carbon isotope stratigraphy can be used to correlate time equivalent reef slope and reef platform sections. Changes in fossil assemblages and stratigraphic patterns link positive carbon isotope excursions to rises in relative sea level. The carbon isotope stratigraphy also provides new insights into events surrounding the Late Devonian mass extinction. Globally correlative, positive carbon isotope excursions correspond to sea level highs, one of which spans the Frasnian-Famennian boundary. A 1-2%o negative d13C excursion observed at the Frasnian-Famennian mass extinction horizon coincides with sedimentological evidence for a drop in sea level. A temporary increase in ocean circulation could have caused the sharp negative excursion.

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Dawn Y. Sumner
Department of Geology
University of California
Davis, CA 95616