Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Biofacies analysis

John Imbrie
Biofacies analysis (in Poldervaart, A., ed., Crust of the earth--a symposium)
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (July 1955): 449-463


Many lines of geological and biological investigation depend upon inferences drawn from a study of biofacies (the total biological characteristics of a sedimentary deposit). Three steps can be recognized in the process of drawing such inferences: analysis, synthesis, and interpretation. Of these, analysis must be considered as fundamental because it involves the primary observations on which synthesis and interpretation depend. The scope and accuracy of our interpretations, therefore, are basically limited by the potentialities of the original observational data. If new dimensions of evolutionary, ecological, and geochronological understanding are to be attained, our observational techniques must be sharpened to extract a maximum of information. At least seven basically different methods of biofacies analysis can be employed: (1) taxonomic analysis, based on enumeration of the kinds of organisms represented in a sample; (2) morphologic analysis, in which observations on organic size and form, not explicit in formal taxonomy, are recorded; (3) frequency-distribution analysis, involving observations on the shape of frequency distributions of biological variates; (4) abundance analysis, in which estimates of absolute or relative individual abundances are obtained; (5) incomplete-specimen analysis, in which consideration is given to broken or disarticulated specimens; (6) compositional analysis, in which information on the mineralogical, chemical, or isotopic composition of skeletal material is utilized; (7) textural analysis, in which field and laboratory observations are made on the arrangement of organisms in a deposit. Some of these techniques (especially those dealing with taxonomic and morphologic analyses) have been widely used, but most of them have not been systematically exploited. Synthesis of this primary information is usually accomplished by bringing together data on available collections and considering the biofacies pattern thus formed in relation to the known ecologic or stratigraphic framework. A variety of synthetic techniques are in widespread use. It is judged that future work will emphasize more strongly (1) comparisons of modern and fossil data, and (2) simultaneous study of lithofacies and biofacies.

ISSN: 0072-1077
EISSN: 2331-219X
Serial Title: Special Paper - Geological Society of America
Title: Biofacies analysis
Title: Poldervaart, A., ed., Crust of the earth--a symposium
Author(s): Imbrie, John
Pages: 449-463
Published: 195507
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
Accession Number: 1959-015268
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Source Note: 62
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from Bibliography and Index of North American Geology, U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, United States
Update Code: 1959
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal