This study assesses the foraminiferal morphogroup concept as a quantitative tool for interpreting environments of deposition in the geological record. This was achieved by first establishing a solid paleoenvironmental framework based on assessment of trace fossils (Zoophycos, Cruziana, and Phycosiphon ichnofacies, and the unnamed brackish-water association), sedimentology, and facies analysis of shallow-marine siliciclastic units of the upper Albian Viking Formation of the Western Interior Seaway, Canada. Foraminiferal morphogroups were integrated into a framework of six well-defined marine mudstone-dominated facies—estuarine, embayment, prodelta, upper offshore, lower offshore, and marine shelf. Seven morphogroups were recognized, quantified, and labeled using alphanumeric codes—A (tubular), B1 (globular), B2 (coiled, flat), B3 (lenticular), C1 (elongate), C2 (quinqueloculine), and D (trochospiral).
Tubular forms (A, Bathysiphon) occur rarely in these shallow-marine facies. Globular forms (B1, Lagenammina) are common in estuarine (33%) and embayment (23%) facies, but also occur elsewhere in low numbers (7–14%). Coiled planar forms (B2, Ammodiscus) occur only rarely (1–8%), but have a minor presence in embayment facies (8%). Lenticular forms (B3, Haplophragmoides) are dominant in estuarine facies (43%) and occur commonly in other environments (9–29%) as well. Elongate forms (C1, Ammobaculites, Reophax, Verneuilinoides) dominate all shallow-marine facies (43–80%), except estuarine (10%). Quinqueloculine forms (C2, Miliammina) have a minor presence in prodelta and marine facies (5%) but are generally rare. Trochoid forms (D, Trochammina) occur rarely, but are relatively common in the prodeltaic facies (15%). Albian foraminiferal morphogroups of the Viking Formation are comparable to those of modern-day offshore environments from water depths of 13 to 160 meters. Foraminiferal morphogroups are objective entities independent of taxonomic determinations. Analysis of their form and function is applicable not only in the shallow-marine facies of the Albian Western Interior Seaway, but in similar facies throughout the geologic record.