Analysis of the Ichnology, Depositional Environment of the Middle Cambrian Mount Whyte Formation, Alberta, Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Shan, Chundi
  • The Mount Whyte Formation is a prominent unit of the Middle Cambrian period in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB). This formation is widely distributed throughout the region and comprises both clastic and carbonate rock, deposited as part of a Middle Cambrian platform. In the Southern Rocky Mountains and Western Alberta Plains, the Mount Whyte Formation is situated unconformably on top of the Gog Group, whereas on the eastern side, it is found on top of the Basal sandstone.
    The first study will specifically focus on the clastic portion of the Mount Whyte Formation and draw interpretations from the sedimentology and ichnology data available. Within these formations, several trace fossils have been identified, including Planolites, Cylindrichnus, Teichichnus, Skolithos, Arenicolites, Diplocraterion, and Rhizocorallium, with Planolites being the most representative ichnofossil present. An interpretation of the depositional environment of the Mount Whyte Formation is provided. The Mount Whyte Formation was formed by shallow marine deposits during the Middle Cambrian, which consists of shale, siltstone sandstone, interrupted by limestone beds. Based on the trace fossils suits, and sedimentological feature (lithology, grain size and structure), this formation was deposited in a zone from upper offshore to middle shoreface.
    In a second study, three cores (1-6-38-15W4, 1-34-57-22W4 and 6-36-19-1W4) were logged to understand red bed distributions in these formations. Samples were subjected to both sedimentary and geochemical analyses. The former involved determining mineralogy, grain size, structure, sphericity, and ichnology data, which helped establish sedimentary facies. The resulting facies indicate a shoreface depositional environment. Meanwhile, a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was performed on the geochemical data, which included high-resolution measurements of redox-sensitive elements such as molybdenum (Mo) and vanadium (V) sampled at one-meter intervals. Analysis of process ichnology data, including bioturbation index, burrow diameter, diversity, and size diversity index, combined with the geochemical results, suggests that redox conditions did not exist during deposition in the Mount Whyte Formation. These findings indicate no clear correlation between redox-sensitive elements and bioturbation. As such, the formation of the red beds are ascribed to diagenesis.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.