EOLIAN DUST AND THE ORIGIN OF DEVONIAN CHERT IN EASTERN NORTH AMERICA
At the time of deposition of Devonian siliceous strata, the Appalachian Basin was approximately 30 degrees south latitude, analogous to modern-day belts of aridity, high pressure, and eolian environments. An eolian provenance has been suggested for the quartz in the Oriskany SS (Grabau, 1932, 1940; Cecil et al., 1991); the quartz sand was either delivered by wind, or ergs were reworked during sea-level rise, analogous to conditions in the Persian Gulf where dust and sand are blown into modern carbonate environments. Thus, the silica supply to Early and early Middle Devonian depositional sea ways in the Appalachian Basin and across North America can be explained by temporal and spatial variations in eolian dust deposition in a hot-arid paleoclimate. The stratigraphy and petrology of the enormous amount of chert in Early and early Middle Devonian marine strata indicate diagenesis of chemically reactive quartz dust, which supplied silica for chert precursor gels and residual particles that are equivalent in size to α-quartz crystallites in chert.