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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 63 (1979)

Issue: 3. (March)

First Page: 448

Last Page: 448

Title: Recent Arthropod Lebensspuren as Indicators of Ancient Flood-Plain Deposition: ABSTRACT

Author(s): J. A. Fagerstrom, Brett C. Ratclife

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Despite the relatively more rare occurrence of trace fossils in nonmarine than marine rocks, insect and spider-produced burrows may have considerable local importance in distinguishing between channel, flood-plain, and upland depositional environments. The recent North American insect and spider fauna includes members of 8 orders and 31 families that make subterranean shafts (vertical or inclined), tunnels (horizontal), or cells (chambers) capable of fossilization. Many of these lebensspuren show great morphologic similarity although they were produced by taxonomically dissimilar arthropods, thus severely limiting the ability of either geologists or entomologists to relate individual lebensspuren to their makers.

Nonetheless, the density and diversity of arthropod lebensspuren in moist flood-plain substrates appear to be much higher than in either channels or uplands. Furthermore, the probability of preservation of arthropod burrows in areas of deposition (flood plains) greatly exceeds the probability of their preservation in areas of erosion (channels and uplands). However, as yet we are unaware of any recent preservable insect or spider-produced burrow types that are confined to either flood plains on uplands; our investigation of lebensspuren in recent and ancient channel deposits is still preliminary. Conversely, we have numerous meniscate (backfilled) tunnels and shafts from an ash lens of presumed flood-plain origin in the Miocene of western Nebraska for which there appear to be no recen analogs.

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