The Santa Clara Abajo and Santa Clara Arriba formations host a diverse assemblage of trace fossils that record a wide range of behaviors and a broad array of ecological niches during the Middle Triassic—a critical period in the evolution of continental fauna with the diversification of both synapsids (cynodont and dicynodont) and archosauromorphs (dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and crocodilians) that represent post-Permian faunal recovery. The Santa Clara formations are part of the continental infill of the Cuyana rift basin in Argentina and represent a lacustrine system with fluvial input and delta development. Sedimentological characteristics of these units as well as their stacking patterns characterize a “fluctuating profundal” facies association typical of a balanced-fill lake basin. The lacustrine and associated terrestrial environments preserve a rich record of invertebrate traces with 26 ichnogenera from ethological classes of fodichnia, domichnia, repichnia, pascichnia, and cubichnia occupying all continental tiers (subaerial and subaqueous, surficial, and/or very shallow, shallow, mid, and deeper) and ecological niches (epiterraphilic, terraphilic, hygrophilic, and hydrophilic). In association with invertebrate traces, two taphonomic modes of tetrapod footprints have been found: a moderate-fidelity mode and a high-fidelity mode. Physical sedimentary features, burrows, trails, and tracks, and their stratigraphic positions are integrated to interpret the main factors involved in footprint preservation in these subsettings. The most significant and variable preservational factor found is water-table fluctuation controlled by the paleohydrology of a balanced-fill lake system. These data show that in balanced-fill lake systems, diverse trace assemblages occur in the lake and associated subsettings such as delta plains and lake-margin settings, whereas trace fossils can be totally absent in coeval lake-center strata, particularly if anoxic lake-bottom conditions occur, as probably occurred in the meromictic Santa Clara lake system.

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