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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 49 (1965)

Issue: 3. (March)

First Page: 356

Last Page: 356

Title: Environmental Significance of Fossil Algae: ABSTRACT

Author(s): Richard Rezak

Article Type: Meeting abstract


During the past decade, a great deal of interest has developed in the use of algae as environmental indicators. As a consequence, many fossils have been identified as algae in the published record and used as the basis for environmental interpretation. Some of these fossils may not be algae and others may be algae without environmental significance. This paper is a plea to paleontologists and geologists to be more critical in their identification and utilization of fossil algae. At the present state of our knowledge concerning these fossils, only a few can be used with any confidence for environmental interpretation.

Algae as a group may inhabit almost any environment. For example, coralline algae in the Recent seas range from the equator to the Arctic Ocean and from the intertidal zone to depths of several hundred feet. Too little is known regarding the distribution of modern genera and species to permit us to attach any environmental significance to the fossil forms.

Probably the most misused forms are the algal stromatolites. Structures of varying origins ranging from caliche to diminutive normal marine bioherms have been called algal stromatolites and interpreted as being intertidal in origin. This practice limits the usefulness of algal stromatolites for environmental interpretation.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists