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Ichnology: Biogenic Utility in Genetic Stratigraphy
Trace fossils represent both sedimentological and paleontological entities, representing a unique blending of potential environmental indicators in the rock record. Trace fossils and trace fossil suites can be employed effectively to aid in the recognition of various discontinuity types and to assist in their genetic interpretation. Ichnology may be employed to resolve surfaces of stratigraphic significance in two main ways: 1) through the identification of discontinuities using substrate-controlled ichnofacies, and 2) through careful analysis of vertical softground (penecontemporaneous) ichnologic successions (analogous to facies successions).
Ichnological analysis is a valuable but highly under-utilised tool in genetic stratigraphic studies. Integrating the data derived from substrate-controlled ichnofacies with paleoecological data from vertical ichnologic successions greatly enhances the recognition and interpretation of a wide variety of stratigraphic surfaces. When this is coupled with conventional facies analysis and sequence stratigraphy, a powerful approach to the interpretation of the rock record is generated.
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