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ABSTRACT: Trace Fossils, Storm Beds, and Depositional Sequences in a Clastic Shelf Setting, Upper Cretaceous of Utah

Robert W. Frey

In Coal Creek Canyon, Utah, the Spring Canyon Member of the Blackhawk Formation is divisible into four regressive hemicycles of deposition, each representing the downdip part of a nearshore-to-offshore sequence punctuated locally by hummocky cross-stratification. Bedding units span middle shoreface to lower offshore shelf lithofacies, the latter corresponding to a transgressive intertongue of the Mancos Shale.

Trace fossil assemblage include 21 ichnospecies distributed among 17 ichnogenera: Ancorichnus, Aulichnites, Chondrites, Cylindrichnus, Ophiomorpha, Palaeophycus, Phoebichnus, Planolites, Rosselia, Schaubcylindrichnus, Scolicia, Skolithos, Taenidium, Teichichnus, Terebellina, Thalassinoides, and Uchirites. Distal deposits are typified by bioturbate textures; Cylindrichnus concentricus, Palaeophycus heberti, and Rosselia socialis otherwise are prevalent throughout the lithofacies suite. Ophiomorpha irregulaire and Schaubcylindrichnus are most common in middle shoreface beds and Chondrites sp. in upper offshore beds; O. nodosa and O. annulata also are common in this part of the sequence. Planolites-type feeding burrows must have been predominant in many depositional settings but now rema n inconspicuous and poorly preserved.

Despite gradients in environmental distributions of trace fossils, all resident ichnofaunas are referable to the archetypical Cruziana ichnocoenose. Ichnofaunas in hummocky beds mainly represent either an archetypical Skolithos ichnocoenose or mixed Skolithos-Cruziana ichnocoenose. These post-storm ichnocoenoses correspond primarily to a sere of opportunistic pioneers and secondarily to ensuing seres of resilient resident populations. Differences in ichnofacies also are related to differences in post-storm rates of deposition: the slower the rate of sediment accumulation, the greater the degree of overprinting by burrows from subsequent seres or equilibrium communities.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990