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Estuarine Trace Fossil Assemblages in Tournaisian Clashmelcon Formation, Kerry Head, Southwest Ireland

John A. Diemer

The Tournaisian Clashmelcon Formation comprises lateral-accretion deposits which fine upward from large-scale cross-stratified sandstone to current-dominated heterolithic beds interbedded with current- and wave-dominated heterolithic beds and desiccated cryptalgal laminites. Large-scale cross-stratification occurs in bundles with structures indicative of unsteady and reversing currents. Wave-dominated heterolithic beds and hummocky cross-stratified sandstone become more abundant upsection. A transported brachiopod-crinoid-bryozoan assemblage which is locally abundant above erosion surfaces becomes more diverse upsection. The Clashmelcon Formation is interpreted as deposits of laterally migrating and aggrading estuarine channels associated with tidal flats which gave way t estuarine embayments dominated by waves.

Trace fossils are best developed in heterolithic bedding and include vertical and horizontal burrows. Low in the Clashmelcon Formation, tops of lateral-accretion deposits are locally very bioturbated by a few types of trace fossils including Skolithos, Arenicolites, Teichichnus, Cylindrichnus and, rarely, Glossifungites. Upsection, a more diverse trace fossil assemblage occurs. Wave-dominated heterolithic sediments display a moderately diverse trace fossil assemblage including Teichichnus, Monocraterion, Diplocraterion, Fucusopsis, Planolites, Paleophycus, Chondrites, Neonereites and, rarely, Curvolithus, Rhizocorallium, Bifungites, and Treptichnus. Rhizocorallium is also locally abundant immediately below the basal erosion surfaces of lateral-accretion deposits. Arenicolites, Teichic nus, Fucusopsis, Planolites, Paleophycus, and Chondrites are found in variable abundance throughout much of the succession. Chondrites is locally very abundant in wave-dominated heterolithic beds and the lower parts of channel fills. Trace fossil variation upsection is likely a product of evolving conditions accompanying transgression of the estuary.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.