A category of wrinkle structures, often termed Kinneyia structure or Runzel marks, comprises bedding plane features consisting typically of anastomosing, low-relief, flat-topped ridges with intervening depressions. Topographic relief is usually less than a millimeter. They are locally common on the upper surfaces of fine- to medium-grained sandstone beds interbedded with mudstone deposited in offshore settings, especially in Precambrian and lower Paleozoic strata but as young as Cretaceous. For more than the last two decades these wrinkle structures have been widely regarded as due to microbial mats, and have been taken as evidence for dominance in the Proterozoic of microbially stabilized sediment and, in the Phanerozoic, a matground marine benthic ecology which gradually gave way to a mixground ecology. The detailed morphology and cross-cutting relationships demonstrated by a range of specimens of Proterozoic, Cambrian, and Silurian age, however, cast this interpretation into doubt. The relationship between the wrinkled surface and bioclasts such as shells and both prior- and later-formed scour surfaces, and horizontal and vertical burrows show that these wrinkles did not develop due to the surface topography of microbial mats or compaction of microbial mats during burial, but instead formed at the top of a sand bed at the interface with an overlying layer of mud. Deformation is ascribed to vibration from low-magnitude earthquakes. The presence in some units of small-scale sedimentary dikelets and crack arrays that formed later after some stiffening, along with locally associated seismites and other evidence for nearby faulting, show that syndepositional tectonic activity was not unexpected and support the interpretation that this category of wrinkle structures is a type of seismite.

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