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Sedimentary and biotic evidence of a warm-water enclave in the cooler oceans of the latest Ordovician glacial phase, Yangtze Platform, South China block



Abstract  During the Hirnantian period, the Yangtze Platform was situated in the western part of the South China block (SCB) before its later rotation, in the middle–low paleolatitudes of the southern hemisphere in the northeast side of peri-Gondwana. It is part of the Kosov faunal province as indicated by the Hirnantia fauna. Sedimentary evidence shows the domination of cool ventilated marine water from its offshore ramp and shelf. Hirnantian shallow-water carbonate facies (Kuanyinchiao Bed) overlie earlier Ashgill graptolitic black shales (Wufeng Formation) as a result of marine regression. In the Yangtze Platform, however, we have found local areas of intertidal to nearshore facies that lack the typical highly diverse Hirnantia fauna. Some warm-water features (radial oolites, peloids, diverse solitary rugose corals and other benthic shelly fauna) occur commonly in some limited shallow areas, forming grainstones and packstones. Although interglacial episodes within the Hirnantian glaciation could be responsible for these features, their limited occurrence within the interior of the platform leads us to interpret the deposits as indicating that cold-water currents from the southeastern high latitudes were partly excluded from the nearshore area of the Yangtze Platform. The landmass of the eastern SCB in the Hirnantian epoch prevented access to some areas of the cold marine water masses that flowed from higher latitudes of Gondwana; the result was a persistence of warm-water shallow marine facies in some areas.