Sedimentology and Trace Fossils
The purpose of this discussion is to stress fundamental concepts of biogenic sedimentary structures and their application to sedimentology, stratigraphy, and to paleoecology. The writer probably was selected for this task because of his propensity for not remembering names of individual genera and species and for seldom straying beyond the boundaries of fundamental (i.e., simple) concepts. With this disclaimer, the reader is warned that what follows has a short halflife, but I hope that some of what is expressed here will be of value in wresting information about depositional environments from the trace fossil record.
My feeling is that trace fossils are important because they represent “primary sedimentary structures” of the substrate in which they are associated. As a result, trace fossils are one of the most reliable indicators of the biocoenose of a specific facies or environment, particularly in environments where soft-bodied organisms were the major biological constituent. In concert with physical sedimentary structures, they offer helpful clues to the interpretation of ancient sedimentary environments.
Figures & Tables
The advancement of ichnological research has left in its wake a considerable volume of literature that contains many important concepts and the results of some excellent field studies. These notes try to consolidate the most salient topics of the discipline and emphasize the application of ichnological concepts and data to geological problems. In many respects, a detailed knowledge of trace fossil concepts is a matter of experience rather than education. Trace fossils, unlike other fossils, are part of the rock and, thus, they are difficult to collect and curate. As a result, interested geologists must go to the field and see a lot of trace fossils in a variety of different views, preserved under a variety of different conditions, to build a working expertise on such structures. This short course is designed to suit the needs of a diversified audience, which is made up of geologists from both academic and industrial institutions. Although the primary concern is to introduce the subject to those having little background in ichnology, the hope is to also update those geologists who already use trace fossil information in their investigations.