ABSTRACT: The Darwin Basin developed in response to episodic subsidence of the western margin of the Cordilleran continental shelf from Late Pennsylvanian (Gzhelian) to Early Permian (late Artinskian) time. Subsidence of the basin was initiated in response to continental truncation farther to the west and was later augmented by thrust emplacement of the Last Chance allochthon. This deep-water basin was filled by voluminous fine-grained siliciclastic turbidites and coarse-grained limestone-gravity-flow deposits. Most of this sediment was derived from the Bird Spring carbonate shelf and cratonal platform to the northeast or east, but some came from an offshore tectonic ridge (Conglomerate Mesa Uplift) to the west that formed at the toe of the Last Chance allochthon. At one point in the late Artinskian the influx of extrabasinal sediment was temporarily cut off, resulting in deposition of a unique black limestone that allows precise correlation throughout the basin. Deep-water sedimentation in the Darwin Basin ended by Kungurian time when complex shallow-water to continental sedimentary facies spread across the region. Major expansion of the Darwin Basin occurred soon after the middle Sakmarian emplacement of the Last Chance allochthon. This tectonic event was approximately coeval with deformation in northeastern Nevada that formed the deep-water Dry Mountain Trough.We herein interpret the two basins to have been structurally continuous. Deposition of the unique black limestone is interpreted to mark a eustatic sea level rise that also can be recognized in Lower Permian sections in east-central Nevada and central Arizona.
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