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Late Silurian trace fossils from the Melbourne Formation, Studley Park, Victoria, southeastern Australia

Journal Article


Abstract


  • An ichnoassemblage of 10 ichnospecies is described for the first time from the Late Silurian Melbourne Formation at Studley Park, Victoria, southeastern Australia. The ichnofauna is preserved in a typical deep-water turbidite succession of alternating thin- to thick-bedded sandstone and thin- to medium-bedded mudrocks. Trace fossils observed within the study site have been assigned to three main ichnofacies. Ichnofacies 1 is best developed on the linguoid-rippled upper surface of thin sandstone beds and includes Laevicyclus, Aulichnites, Nereites, Helminthoidichnites, small Chondrites and possible Zoophycos. Ichnofacies 2 is very similar to Ichnofacies 1 in ichnospecies composition but instead contains large forms of Chondrites together with other thin burrow types usually poorly preserved and in very low abundance compared with Ichnofacies 1. Ichnofacies 3 is preserved mainly as casts on the underside of medium- to thick-bedded turbiditic sandstones, and has a very low diversity, with Planolites being the most common trace. A detailed analysis of the ichnofabrics and tiering structures of these ichnofacies suggest that Ichnofacies 1 and 3 represent 'simple tiering', in contrast to Ichnofacies 2, which is more characteristic of 'complex tiering'. Despite the differences in ichnospecies composition and ichnofabrics between the three recognized ichnofacies, the collective ichnoassemblage from the study site can be assigned confidently to the Nereites ichnofacies and is, therefore, interpreted to have formed in a distal submarine fan environment of lower bathyal to abyssal depth. Further, it is possible to recognize two main subenvironments within this deep-sea setting to account for the differences between the ichnofacies. Ichnofacies 1 and 2 are interpreted to represent a typical Nereites ichnofacies located on a level basin floor subenvironment of relatively low energy conditions at the distal end of a submarine fan deposit. In comparison, Ichnofacies 3 is dominated by Planolites with rare other facies-crossing trace fossil forms, and lacks Nereites. It is, therefore, best interpreted as representing a relatively high-energy environment, possibly a distributary channel near the distal end of the submarine fan system. © 2009 Association of Australasian Palaeontologists.

Publication Date


  • 2009

Citation


  • Shi, G. R., Gong, Y. M., & Potter, A. (2009). Late Silurian trace fossils from the Melbourne Formation, Studley Park, Victoria, southeastern Australia. Alcheringa, 33(3), 185-209. doi:10.1080/03115510902844301

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-70349739155

Start Page


  • 185

End Page


  • 209

Volume


  • 33

Issue


  • 3

Abstract


  • An ichnoassemblage of 10 ichnospecies is described for the first time from the Late Silurian Melbourne Formation at Studley Park, Victoria, southeastern Australia. The ichnofauna is preserved in a typical deep-water turbidite succession of alternating thin- to thick-bedded sandstone and thin- to medium-bedded mudrocks. Trace fossils observed within the study site have been assigned to three main ichnofacies. Ichnofacies 1 is best developed on the linguoid-rippled upper surface of thin sandstone beds and includes Laevicyclus, Aulichnites, Nereites, Helminthoidichnites, small Chondrites and possible Zoophycos. Ichnofacies 2 is very similar to Ichnofacies 1 in ichnospecies composition but instead contains large forms of Chondrites together with other thin burrow types usually poorly preserved and in very low abundance compared with Ichnofacies 1. Ichnofacies 3 is preserved mainly as casts on the underside of medium- to thick-bedded turbiditic sandstones, and has a very low diversity, with Planolites being the most common trace. A detailed analysis of the ichnofabrics and tiering structures of these ichnofacies suggest that Ichnofacies 1 and 3 represent 'simple tiering', in contrast to Ichnofacies 2, which is more characteristic of 'complex tiering'. Despite the differences in ichnospecies composition and ichnofabrics between the three recognized ichnofacies, the collective ichnoassemblage from the study site can be assigned confidently to the Nereites ichnofacies and is, therefore, interpreted to have formed in a distal submarine fan environment of lower bathyal to abyssal depth. Further, it is possible to recognize two main subenvironments within this deep-sea setting to account for the differences between the ichnofacies. Ichnofacies 1 and 2 are interpreted to represent a typical Nereites ichnofacies located on a level basin floor subenvironment of relatively low energy conditions at the distal end of a submarine fan deposit. In comparison, Ichnofacies 3 is dominated by Planolites with rare other facies-crossing trace fossil forms, and lacks Nereites. It is, therefore, best interpreted as representing a relatively high-energy environment, possibly a distributary channel near the distal end of the submarine fan system. © 2009 Association of Australasian Palaeontologists.

Publication Date


  • 2009

Citation


  • Shi, G. R., Gong, Y. M., & Potter, A. (2009). Late Silurian trace fossils from the Melbourne Formation, Studley Park, Victoria, southeastern Australia. Alcheringa, 33(3), 185-209. doi:10.1080/03115510902844301

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-70349739155

Start Page


  • 185

End Page


  • 209

Volume


  • 33

Issue


  • 3