Abstract

Here we document the occurrence of locally common oncoids in the Cedar Mountain Formation of Utah in the Woodside Anticline area of the San Rafael Swell and use them to understand changes in the Early Cretaceous landscape and their effects on the dinosaur fauna. Detailed facies analysis is required to understand the context of these changes within the broader patterns of Mesozoic tectonics and the fossil record. Oncolite crops out in the Cedar Mountain Formation, directly overlying the Buckhorn Conglomerate. Oncolite is not widely distributed outside of the Woodside Anticline area. The oncoids are found in a bimodal population with the majority in the 2–5-cm-diameter range and a smaller population >25 cm in diameter. Nuclei are mostly rounded chert clasts and also include litharenite, polymict conglomerate, limestone, and both abraded and nonabraded dinosaur bone and wood fragments. Cortices are 3–5 mm thick with distinct, penecint (laminae that completely enclose a body; Hofmann, 1969), low-relief laminae. Some laminae are crenulated and comprise ministromatolites. The petrography of the oncoids suggests formation along lake margins where large fragments of reworked sedimentary clasts and dinosaur bones came to rest and were coated by bacterial mats. Caliche cements and coats some of the oncolite; these define a lake shoreline affected by fluctuating lake level. The isotope geochemistry indicates a combination of primary and diagenetic signals consistent with oncoid formation in open, ephemeral freshwater lakes.

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