Article: Carbonate Depositional Environaments, Sequence Stratigraphy and Exceptional Skeletal Preservation in the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation (Silurian) of Dudley, England
David C. Ray and Alan T. Thomas
The Much Wenlock Limestone Formation of the Dudley inliers, West Midlands, contains one of the world's richest and most exquisitely preserved Silurian marine biotas. However, for most museum specimens, little is known of their exact provenance and mode of preservation. Detailed comparisons between outcrops and museum collections allow the identification of five faunal-lithological associations and numerous horizons of exceptional skeletal preservation. The associations are interpreted as a series of transient carbonate mid-platform environments extending from below storm wave-base to above fair-weather wave-base. Erosive surfaces, condensed sections, flooding surfaces and the stacking patterns of genetically related bed-sets (parasequences) have allowed the formation to be interpreted as a single third-order sequence stratigraphic cycle of sea-level change. The articulated preservation of taxa such as pelmatozoan echinoderms and trilobites can be attributed to either rapid burial by obrution deposits close to fair-weather wave-base or smothering by storm sequestered muds in slightly deeper-water settings. Such intervals of exceptional preservation are commonly associated with flooding surfaces, presumably reflecting reduced likelihood of reworking once rapid burial had taken place.