Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 7–24 | Cite as

Ediacaran integrative stratigraphy and timescale of China

  • Chuanming ZhouEmail author
  • Xunlai Yuan
  • Shuhai Xiao
  • Zhe Chen
  • Hong Hua


Ediacaran successions occur widely in various depositional facies in South China and yield a series of fossil Lagerstätten, providing a complete fossil record for the evolution of marine ecosystems after the terminal Cryogenian global glaciation. Carbonate-dominated Ediacaran successions in shallow water facies in South China record a nearly complete δ13C profile that may reflect variations of marine carbon isotopic composition during the Ediacaran Period. The Ediacaran fossils and δ13C profiles from South China permit stratigraphic correlation and subdivision of the Ediacaran strata. Based on biostratigraphic, chemostratigraphic, and geochronometric data from the Ediacaran successions in South China, we propose that the Ediacaran System in China can be subdivided into two series, with three stages in each series. The lower series is characterized by acanthomorphic acritarchs and the upper series by Ediacara-type macrofossils, and the two series are separated by the declining limb of a pronounced δ13C negative excursion (EN3) in the upper Doushantuo Formation. The basal boundary of Stage 1 is the same as the basal boundary of Ediacaran System, which has been defined at the base of the cap carbonate unit. Stage 2 represents the first radiation of Ediacaran microscopic organisms, with δ13C feature representing by positive values (EP1). The base of the Stage 2 is placed at the first appearance level of a spiny acritarch species. Stage 3 is characterized by the occurrence of more diverse acritarchs and δ13C feature EP2, with its basal boundary defined by a δ13C negative excursion (EN2) occurring in the middle Doushantuo Formation. The basal boundary of Stage 4 is the same as the upper series. Stage 5 is marked by the occurrence of macrfossils of Miaohe biota, and its lower boundary can be placed at the level where δ13C values transition from positive to negative in MNE, or the first appearance level of macrofossils of the Miaohe biota. Stage 6 is characterized by the occurrences of Ediacara-type Shibantan biota and Gaojiashan biota, with its lower boundary defined by the first appearance level of Conotubus hemiannulatus. The formal establishment of the aforementioned series and stages requires further and more detailed integrative stratigraphic study on the Ediacaran successions in China. Some of the Ediacaran successions in South China have great potential to become global standards in Ediacaran subdivision.


Ediacaran Biostratigraphy Chemostratigraphy Stratotype section South China 


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We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB18000000) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41672027).


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© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chuanming Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xunlai Yuan
    • 2
  • Shuhai Xiao
    • 3
  • Zhe Chen
    • 2
  • Hong Hua
    • 4
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Economic Stratigraphy and Palaeogeography, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and Center for Excellence in Life and PalaeoenvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and Center for Excellence in Life and PalaeoenvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics, Department of GeologyNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina

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