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ABSTRACT

The Xinmincun Formation forms the uppermost unit of a thick Neoproterozoic section which accumulated near the east margin of the North China Block and is overlain by two thin nearshore to continental formations below fossiliferous Lower Cambrian sediments. Although tectonically deformed, sedimentary structures are preserved undeformed on cleavage-parallel surfaces, and an 80 m section has been reconstructed by correlation across minor folds and faults in the Golden Stone beach area, 50 km NE of the city of Dalian, southern Liaoning province.

The measured section shows 65 m of storm-dominated deposits, consisting of alternations of micrites and sharp-based graded intraclastic grainstone beds (tempestites), some with rudaceous, commonly erosional or guttered, bases. The top 15 m of section shows three alternations of similar subtidal lithofacies with partly to completely dolomitized peritidal deposits (laminated, sometimes fenestral and desiccated, micrite beds, and intraclastic rudite and grainstone beds). Tempestite beds become thinner and less abundant upwards towards a muddy upper shoreface zone. This environment was characterized in part by the occurrence of micrite with thin or streaky lamination (probable storm-resuspended sediment), interbedded tempestites, numerous erosion surfaces, and evidence of liquidization and sediment slumping into hollows.

Molar tooth structures are widespread in micrite beds of the Xinmincun Formation and are present in lesser abundance in tempestites and liquefied channel-fills. Originally the structures were sub-vertical cracks, 1–20 cm long, tapering upwards and downwards. Subsequently they became filled with microspar cement and buckled rigidly during compaction of surrounding sediment during burial. Evidence of repeated episodes of cracking, presence of brecciated cracks and localization of cracking within beds, together with variable degree of development and variation of preferential alignment in plan indicates a mechanical origin. Crack generation may have been by seismic surface waves generated by movement along faults defining either the basin's margins or its internal structure, or possibly by wave action during storms. A seismic origin for molar tooth structure is consistent with other Neoproterozoic occurrences. Their preferential occurrence in Precambrian deposits arises from the relative rigidity of micritic sediment at this time related to lack of bioturbation, incipient cementation and possibly microbial binding.