Devonian brachiopods of southwesternmost laurentia: Biogeographic affinities and tectonic significance

Arthur J. Boucot, Forrest G. Poole, Ricardo Amaya-Martinez, Anita G. Harris, Charles A. Sandberg, William R. Page

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16 Scopus citations


Three brachiopod faunas discussed herein record different depositional and tectonic settings along the southwestern margin of Laurentia (North America) during Devonian time. Depositional settings include inner continental shelf (Cerros de Los Murcielagos), medial continental shelf (Rancho Placeritos), and offshelf continental rise (Rancho Los Chinos). Ages of Devonian brachiopod faunas include middle Early (Pragian) at Rancho Placeritos in west-central Sonora, late Middle (Givetian) at Cerros de Los Murcielagos in northwestern Sonora, and late Late (Famennian) at Rancho Los Chinos in central Sonora. The brachiopods of these three faunas, as well as the gastropod Orecopia, are easily recognized in outcrop and thus are useful for local and regional correlations. Pragian brachiopods dominated by Acrospirifer and Meristella in the "San Miguel Formation" at Rancho Placeritos represent the widespread Appohimchi Subprovince of eastern and southern Laurentia. Conodonts of the early to middle Pragian sulcatus to kindlei Zones associated with the brachiopods confirm the ages indicated by the brachiopod fauna and provide additional information on the depositional setting of the Devonian strata. Biostratigraphic distribution of the Appohimchi brachiopod fauna indicates continuous Early Devonian shelf deposition along the entire southern margin of Laurentia. The largely emergent southwest-trending Transcontinental arch apparently formed a barrier preventing migration and mixing of many genera and species of brachiopods from the southern shelf of Laurentia in northern Mexico to the western shelf (Cordilleran mio-geocline) in the western United States. Middle Devonian Stringocephalus brachiopods and Late Devonian Orecopia gastropods in the "Los Murcielagos Formation" in northwest Sonora represent the southwest-ernmost occurrence of these genera in North America and date the host rocks as Givetian and Frasnian, respectively. Rhynchonelloid brachiopods (Dzieduszyckia sonora) and associated worm tubes in the Los Pozos Formation of the Sonora allochthon in central Sonora are also found in strati-form-barite facies in the upper Upper Devonian (Famennian) part of the Slaven Chert in the Roberts Mountains allochthon (upper plate) of central and western Nevada. Although these brachiopods and worm tubes occur in similar depositional settings along the margin of Laurentia in Mexico, they occur in allochthons that exhibit different tectonic styles and times of emplacement. Thus, the allochthons containing the brachiopods and worm tubes in Sonora and Nevada are parts of separate orogenic belts and have different geographic settings and tectonic histories. Devonian facies belts and faunas in northern Mexico indicate a continuous continental shelf along the entire southern margin of Laurentia. These data, in addition to the continuity of the late Paleozoic Ouachita-Marathon-Sonora orogen across northern Mexico, contradict the early Late Jurassic Mojave-Sonora megashear as a viable hypothesis for large-magnitude offset (600-1100 km) of Proterozoic through Middle Jurassic rocks from California to Sonora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-97
Number of pages21
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
StatePublished - 2008


  • Appohimchi subprovince
  • Biogeography
  • Devonian brachiopods and conodonts
  • Sonora


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