ABSTRACT

Two types of unusual concretions with similar biotic contents but markedly different shapes and distributions were found in close stratigraphic proximity within the Lower Jurassic Whitmore Point Member of the Moenave Formation in St. George, Utah. Both types of concretions formed in lacustrine sediments and contain abundant ganoid fish scales, numerous ostracode carapaces, and apparent rip-up clasts. Elongate, cylindrical concretions developed in parallel and regularly spaced rows in one horizon, and comparatively flat and irregularly shaped and distributed concretions formed in an overlying layer only a few centimeters above. Microprobe and Raman analyses of concretion samples reveal abundant hematite in both concretions as well as groundmass minerals dominated by silica in the cylindrical concretions and dolomite in the flat concretions. The abundance of fish skeletal debris in concretions from two consecutive horizons may suggest recurring fish mass mortality in ancient Lake Dixie, the large lake that occupied the St. George area during the Early Jurassic. We propose a model for the formation of the concretions based on their shapes, distributions, and chemistry. In this model, accumulations of disarticulated fish debris were colonized and consolidated by microbial mats and shaped by oscillatory flow (in the case of the cylindrical concretions) or lack thereof (in the case of the flat concretions). Then, after burial, groundwater chemistry and possibly the metabolic activities of microorganisms led to the precipitation of minerals around and within the masses of fish material. Finally, diagenetic alteration changed the mineral makeups of the cylindrical and flat concretions into what they are today.

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