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Building upon ichnological principles: modern biogenic structures, ichnotaxonomic classification, and paleoecological and stratigraphic significance of ichnofossil assemblages Open Access


Other title
ichnofacies analysis
wave-influenced delta
burrowing rate
Glossifungites Ichnofacies
mixed river- and wave-influenced delta
Viking Formation
palimpsest suite
mineral segregation
biogenic grading
Euzonus mucronata
hydraulic jetting
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Dafoe, Lynn T.
Supervisor and department
Pemberton, S. George (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Gingras, Murray (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Evenden, Maya (Biological Sciences)
Savrda, Charles (Geology and Geography, Auburn University)
Stelck, Charles (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
MacEachern, James (Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University)
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Biogenic structures can impart important information regarding animal behaviors and depositional conditions at the time of colonization including: sedimentation rate, current velocities, distribution of food resources, oxygenation, salinity, and temperature. This thesis utilizes various ichnological subdisciplines to build upon these underlying ichnological principles. Neoichnology is a newly emerging field that can provide invaluable information about modern and ancient organisms. Burrowing activities of a population of deposit-feeding, freshwater Limnodrilus and Tubifex is found to produce biogenic graded bedding. Similarly, the burrowing activities of Euzonus mucronata are studied in relation to the trace fossil Macaronichnus segregatis, which displays mineralogical segregation between the burrow infill and mantle. The process of grain partitioning was assessed using videographic analyses of ingested and excreted grains by these deposit-feeding polychaetes, which selectively ingest felsic grains through en-masse feeding in felsic-rich locales. Macaronichnus is an important trace in ancient deposits of nearshore settings; however, since its inception, the genus had not been formally diagnosed. Accordingly, a unique approach to classification of these traces was undertaken, using grain sorting and collective morphology as ichnotaxobases, in addition to the diagnosis of a new, related genus—Harenaparietis. In the Permian Snapper Point Formation of SE Australia, a new ichnospecies of Piscichnus was diagnosed and interpreted to reflect fish or cephalopod feeding via hydraulic jetting into the substrate in search of infaunal food sources. The delineation of trace fossils through ichnotaxonomy provides a basis for identifying trace fossil suites, which can be interpreted through ichnofacies analysis. Subtle ichnological and sedimentological attributes of deltaic strata in the Viking Formation permits the identification of wave-influenced and mixed river- and wave-influenced deposits in the Hamilton Lake and Wayne-Rosedale-Chain areas of Alberta, Canada, respectively. Facies analysis combined with the identification of palimpsest stratigraphic surfaces led to the identification of transgressively incised shoreface deposits at Hamilton Lake. Examples of palimpsest ichnofossils from the Hamilton Lake area and from other strata are used in an assessment of soft-, stiff- and firmground suites. This study revealed the importance of substrate properties, environment, stratigraphy and processes leading to the formation and expression of allocyclic and autocyclic surfaces.
License granted by Lynn Dafoe ( on 2009-10-02T19:42:32Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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