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Abstract

Biogenic structures are manifestations of the activities of benthic organisms and, as such, can be viewed not only as biologic entities but also as sedimentary structures. Consequently, special methods may be necessary in order to study them properly. Farrow (1975) provided an excellent summary of the techniques presently used in studying fossil and recent traces; these are summarized in Tables IV-1 and IV-2.

(1) Field observations. Perhaps the most fundamental technique used in studying trace fossils is simple detailed observation. Trace fossils in some cases are very difficult to collect, because they require the recovery of large rock slabs or, when dealing with cores, sampling may be prohibited. Therefore, it becomes imperative to describe the fossils in the field with as much accuracy and precision as possible. Various field forms or checklists have been devised by some workers to ensure that important details are not overlooked.

Accurate sketches and/or good photographs are virtually mandatory. Simple field sketches have the advantage of being easy, inexpensive and not dependent upon good lighting; moreover, a sketch always contains the pertinent features that may not show up in a photograph because of low contrast, small size or poor photography. Disadvantages, of course, are that sketching is a time-consuming, practiced skill that varies considerably from one person to another. Photographs, on the other hand, are very quick to produce (a fraction of second!) and are objective in the final result. However, important details often cannot be captured effectively on film if the lighting is imperfect

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