Isolated horizons of Thalassinoides and Gyrolithes burrows appear in exclusive association with gravity-flow deposits within sequences of nonbioturbated hernipelagic sedimentary rocks of the Miocene Monterey Formation of California and the Oligocene-Miocene San Gregorio Formation of Baja California. These burrowed levels are not associated with other ichnogenera such as Zoophycos and Chondrites. We infer a causal relation between gravity flow deposition and the presence of Thalassinoides and Gyrolithes and suggest that these gravity flows entrained thalassinidean crustacea. Upon deposition in oxygen-deficient environments, the surviving borrowers reworked substantial quantities of aminated, commonly organic-rich sediments in an environment from which they were previously excluded. The persistence of or the ecologically rapid return to oxygen-depleted conditions limited the survival time and ecological complexity of the transported infaunal dwellers and rendered them doomed pioneers. Ecological and physiological data support this hypothesis: thalassinidean crustacea have the capability to endure turbulent transport and survive up to 5-7 days of anoxia without being severely limited in their biological activities.

The accurate recognition of doomed pioneer trace-fossil assemblages as ephemeral ecological phenomena in otherwise laminated successions may contribute to a better understanding and interpretation of paleo-oxygen levels and basin history.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.

First Page Preview

First page PDF preview
You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.