Ordovician of the Conterminous United States

P.I. McLaughlin, Alycia L. Stigall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Ordovician rocks of the conterminous United States (U.S.) have a complex history, spanning multiple ancient basins, shifting paleoclimate, and evolving tectonic regimes. The U.S. portion of the paleocontinent of Laurentia occupied a relatively stable and isolated position around the southern tropics during the Ordovician. In general, Lower Ordovician rocks form a vast autochthonous blanket of fine-grained (tropical) carbonates that covered much of Laurentia, named the “Great American Carbonate Bank”. Outboard, ribbon carbonates and graptolitic shales are found in allochthonous fragments of the ancient continental margin. Middle Ordovician strata are more lithologically diverse, including the addition of several regionally distributed sandstones of the inner detrital belt, mostly overlying the Sauk-Tippecanoe unconformity. Upper Ordovician strata show the greatest lithologic and faunal diversity, reflecting steepening topography resulting from regional compression along the south Laurentian (Appalachian) margin. Recent advances in the interpretation of the U.S. Ordovician come primarily from study of carbon and oxygen stable isotopes, sequence stratigraphy, paleoecology, tephrochronology, redox geochemistry, strontium isotopes, and geochronology.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Global Synthesis of the Ordovician System: Part 2
EditorsT Servais, D A T Harper, B Lefebvre, I G Percival
PublisherGeological Society of London
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781786205896
StatePublished - Jun 9 2023

Publication series

NameGeological Society Special Publication
PublisherGeological Society of London
ISSN (Print)0305-8719


  • ISGS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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