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Trace fossils and rhizoliths as a tool for sedimentological and palaeoenvironmental analysis of ancient continental evaporite successions.



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Rodríguez Aranda, Juan Pablo and Calvo Sorando, José Pedro (1998) Trace fossils and rhizoliths as a tool for sedimentological and palaeoenvironmental analysis of ancient continental evaporite successions. Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, 140 . pp. 383-399. ISSN 0031-0182

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Official URL: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/palaeogeography-palaeoclimatology-palaeoecology


Recognition of evaporite formations from continental Tertiary basins of Spain provides evidence that trace fossils (including rhizoliths) can be abundant in some saline lake systems and their study helps in palaeoenvironmental interpretation of ancient continental evaporite sequences. Six main types of trace fossils have been distinguished and include: (1) networks of small rhizoliths; (2) large rhizoliths; (3) tangle-patterned small burrows; (4) isolated large burrows; (5) L-shaped traces; and (6) vertebrate tracks. Rhizoliths were related to both marginal areas of hypersaline lakes and lakes of moderately high saline waters. In these settings, pedoturbation resulted from colonization by grasses and bushes of distinct lake subenvironments. The activity of burrowing invertebrate faunas was especially intense in lakes of moderately concentrated brines from which gypsum was the main evaporite mineral deposited. A specific gypsum lithofacies (‘bioturbated gypsum deposits’) forming thick, massive beds has a widespread occurrence in many of the basins. Tangle-patterned small burrows and minor isolated large burrows constitute the typical trace fossil types within the gypsum. The traces are interpreted as having been caused by burrowing insect larvae, probably chironomids, coleopterans and annelids. The behaviour of these organisms in recent lake environments yields information about the salinity range of lake waters from which gypsum precipitated. Concentration values averaging 100–150 g=l may be thus deduced though some organisms involved in the formation of the traces can tolerate higher salinities. The combined analysis of lithofacies and trace fossils from the lacustrine evaporite sequences contributes to the study of distinct saline lake subenvironments as well as changes in the sedimentary evolution of the lake systems. Consequently, trace fossils can provide valuable insight for palaeoenvironmental analysis of at least some evaporite formations that accumulated in continental settings.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ichnofabrics; Evaporite environments; Gypsum; Continental formations; Palaeolimnology
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:58818
Deposited On:06 Feb 2020 12:33
Last Modified:06 Feb 2020 12:33

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