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Keywords:

  • trilobites;
  • cyclopygid biofacies;
  • Phillipsinella–Staurocephalus fauna;
  • Iapetus;
  • Upper Ordovician

Abstract

The trilobite fauna of the upper Katian (mid-Ashgill in terms of Anglo-Welsh chronostratigraphy) Oriel Brook Formation in the Grangegeeth Terrane, eastern Ireland comprises 16 species. It is dominated numerically by mesopelagic cyclopygids (Cyclopyge cf. marginata Hawle and Corda and much rarer Symphysops sp.), which comprise 63% of the 156 identifiable sclerites known unequivocally from the formation. Other elements of the trilobite fauna include species of Staurocephalus, Phillipsinella, Nankinolithus and the agnostids Trinodus and Sphaeragnostus. The abundance of cyclopygids in a terrane interpreted as lying within the Iapetus Ocean closer to Laurentia than the Anglo-Welsh sector of Avalonia is consistent with the Late Katian spread of cyclopygids onto low latitude shelves seen in Quebec and Maine in eastern North America, Girvan in SE Scotland and Co. Clare in the Irish Central Terrane. With the exception of the agnostid trilobites, whose mode of life is strongly debated, associated benthic trilobites lacking eyes are fairly rare and the bottom-dwelling fauna does not conform to the atheloptic assemblages that typified many mid- to high latitude Ordovician outer shelf and upper slope settings. The benthic assemblage can be considered in terms of a bathymetrically arranged spectrum of faunas and is closest to that of the deep shelf Phillipsinella parabola—Staurocephalus clavifrons fauna, known from the Upper Ordovician of Avalonia and Baltica and to some extent marginal Gondwana and South China. This is the first record of such a fauna from Laurentia or its marginal terranes and reflects the Late Ordovician breakdown of provincialism in the Iapetus Ocean. The deep-water setting is compatible with that of the associated Foliomena brachiopod fauna. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.