Abstract

Cryogenic taphonomy is defined for the purpose of this study as the preservational history of a fossil as it is influenced by ice. Evidence exists throughout the geologic record for periods of prevailing glacial conditions. This is particularly true during the Cenozoic with the inception of the “modern” polar ice caps. Recognition of benthic faunal debris in supra-ice shelf sediments (sediments lying on the surface of the ice shelf) suggests that ice shelves act as a biostratinomic agent unique to polar regions. Analysis of fossil foraminifer assemblages recovered from supra-ice shelf and coastal outcrop sediments from the McMurdo Ice Shelf region, Antarctica, indicates that significant taphonomic alteration of modern faunas occur as a result of ice influence. The degree of alteration is used to address possible cryogenic alteration of Quaternary assemblages recovered from the Cape Roberts Project CRP-1 drillhole. The understanding of cryogenic taphonomy is important to the paleoenvironmental interpretation of glaciomarine sediments.

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