Abstract

Conical sedimentary structures are widespread in the geological column. Those that are mediated by organisms (or organic matter) can be attributed to seven principal processes, which are investigated by experiment and/or field observations: (1) sand collapse into a cavity (decomposed body, open shaft, or gallery), (2) upward (escape) or downward locomotion by an organism through the sediment, (3) upward adjustment (equilibration), (4) casting of coelenterates' excavations, (5) organism-mediated soft-sediment deformation in heterolithic sediment, (6) biodeformational small and large excavations by organisms, and (7) fluid (gas or liquid) escape structures. Footprint loading may also be included. Criteria are given to distinguish between these processes. Dewatering pipes are best recognized by a zone of deformed and fluidized sediment at the base, and association with non-life (lethal) facies. Care must be used in assigning specimens to ichnotaxa, and it is generally necessary to slab, and also to carry out stratinomic investigation in the field.

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