Abstract

The Nova Scotian continental rise below 4750 m water depth is subject to intermittently strong currents (>30 cm/s) a few times a year in deep-sea storms. These erode and rapidly deposit sediment on the bed, with deep erosion (>5 cm) occurring in an annual to decadal time scale. X-radiographs of subsamples from box cores taken from this area exhibit a repetitive organization of primary and biogenic structures. Four tiers are recognized: 1, 2, and 3a and b. Tiers 1 and 2 are produced by ichnoguilds dominated by "Mycellia" B and Protopalaeodictyon, and resemble the archetypical Nereites ichnofacies. Tier 3 is dominated by guilds comprising members of the "Scolicia group" (especially Bichordites) with an overprint of Planolites and Chondrites. However, Tier 3 exhibits a vertical gradient of potential trace fossil preservation from 3a to 3b. At depth (3b), the tier becomes thoroughly bioturbated and finally forms the "historical layer" of other authors. At the base of this layer some split box cores revealed Thalassinoides 20-25 cm down. However, no vertical shafts were seen linking these occurrences to the modern sea floor, and they are thought to be part of a fossil ichnocoenosis belonging to an early post-glacial colonization of the sea bed. The extreme short-term rates of erosion and deposition in this area, the latter being up to 2.7 cm per year, result in a very low probability of preservation of Tiers 1 and 2. The material providing the long-term accumulation rate of 5 cm/ky is dominated by Tier 3. Thus only one tier would be preserved in lithified deposits. The record of intense biological and sedimentary activity seen in x-radiographs of Tiers 1 and 2 is not preserved. The accumulating sediment is ichnologically biased. This slowly accumulating sediment column is stratigraphically "incomplete" at the 1-year level required to preserve a record of benthic storm events, but is probably "complete" at the 100-year scale.

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