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General Ichnology

Ichno Glossary

on . Posted in General Ichnology

The glossary of terms provided below is by no means exhaustive.  It is modified and updated from the glossary of Ekdale et al. (1984). By Duncan McIlroy.

The glossary to come.

Things you need to do before you try nearest neighbour analysis in pipe rock facies

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One of the remarkable things about the predominantly Lower Palaeozoic pipe-rock facies is the sheer intensity of bioturbation by the vertical tubular trace fossil Skolithos.

The question that has been asked by a number of earlier authors is... How does the palaeoecology represented in pipe-rock compare to modern marine systems?

Over the last few years my Ph.D. student Michael Garton and I have been working at methods to study the fabrics produced in ancient sediments by the action of burrowing organisms (ichnofabrics).  The quartz-rich sandstones of the pipe-rock facies are particularly difficult to study.


Turbidite Ichnology in Baja California, Mexico

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My research is focussed upon using trace fossils to help understand depositional environments in deep water turbidites. The Rosario Formation in Baja California, Mexico, are an excellent case study, because the depositional environments, architecture, stratigraphy and evolution of these channel turbidite rocks have been studied by members of the “Slopes 2 Consortium” ( for several years, and I have been working in the field with other members of this research team. Surprisingly, the trace fossils within this system have not been studied in detail until now, and as with other turbidite systems, they have not been studied systematically across the range of depositional environments present in these settings.

Discovery of the oldest trace fossils?

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One of our own, Alex Liu, has hit the headlines this week with the publication of his discovery of trace fossils in the Mistaken Point Formation at Mistaken Point itself (which is near Cape Race, Portugal Cove South, on the southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula, about 2.5 hrs drive from MUN).  Alex has a real eye for discovering fossils, which-when combined with his dedication to fieldwork-has led him to unearth new finds from localities thoughout the Avalon and Bonavista areas in localities that have been considered to be "done to death".

Alex made the discovery in the summer of 2008 while he was a visiting student with us at MUN (he is co-supervised by Martin Brasier at Oxford University and myself).