Analysis of the ichnology and sedimentology of the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slate, Germany, reveals that the distribution and preservation of the famous pyritized fauna were controlled by the deposition of fine-grained turbidites that formed a firm substrate. The nature of this substrate is evidenced by the preservation of laminae and the finest details of arthropod trackways. The trace fossils are dominated by two ecological groups: those made by epifaunal organisms and those involving burrow systems connected to the sediment-water interface. Trace makers that moved through the sediment are poorly represented. The diversity of in situ body fossils and epifaunal traces confirms that conditions within the water column remained well oxygenated, even though the sediment rapidly became inhospitable. The Hunsrück Slate Konservat-Lagerstätten are remarkable in preserving soft tissues where unusual geochemical conditions prevailed in the environment where the animals lived, rather than following transport to a different setting.

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