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The sad story of a largely forgotten pioneer of ichnology and Precambrian Palaeontology

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As part of my Ph.D. studies I had the pleasure of working on the Ediacaran  Lonymyndian Successions of the Welsh Borderlands, eventually crossing paths with the wonderful Pete Crimes, who ended up being the external examiner of my thesis and then a great friend.  Pete and I published (with one of his former students J. Pauley) on a number of peculiar structures that we collectively called "blobs", but which included morphologies like "donuts", "cherry buns" and "blobs" of various sizes, and the Precambrian pseudofossil Arumberia.

McIlroy, D., Crimes, T. P., and Pauley, J. C. 2005. Fossils and matgrounds from the Neoproterozoic Longmyndian Supergroup, Shropshire, UK. Geological Magazine, 142: 441–455.

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I thought that that would be the end of the matter. I knew that the sedimentology could use a modern sequence stratigraphic approach, but my move to Canada seemed to put an end to my Longmyndian interest.  That is until Rich Callow (a student of my Ph.D. supervisor Martin Brasier and currently a postdoc with me here at MUN) discovered microbial filaments in the same successions.

Callow, R. H. T. and Brasier, M. D. 2009. A solution to Darwin’s dilemma of 1859: Exceptional preservation in Salter’s material from the late Ediacaran Longmyndian Supergroup, England. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 166: 1–4.


Mouldy Pizzas

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Mistaken brasier 067

Some 6 years ago now I visited Mistaken Point, one of the most important Ediacaran localities in the world, which sits right at the bottom of the Avalon Peninsula, a couple of hours drive from St. John's.  I was amazed and intrigued by the large and abundant fossils colloquially known as Pizza Disks which do indeed look a little like overloaded 12" deep crust pizzas.

Such structures have long been compared to forms that have been named in the equivalent rocks in the UK (The UK and Eastern Newfoundland once sat on the same terrane known as Avalonia).  These obscure and enigmatic fossils have very little internal detail.  I first came across such forms in the Charnian of Leicestershire, UK as part of my thesis and had never been convinced of them as body fossils, preferring a microbial interpretation for Ivesheadia Blackbrookia and Shepsheadia )

Petrophysical changes associated with bioturbation

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nikki aapg

Nikki has just had her first "first author" paper published.  This is a piece of collaborative work that goes back to the days when Rudi Meyer was with us (now at Calgary), and constitutes Allison Moore-Turpin's first paper as well!


Tonkin, N.S., McIlroy, D., Meyer, R. & Moore-Turpin, A. 2010. Bioturbation influence on reservoir quality: A case study from the Cretaceous Ben Nevis Formation, Jeanne d'Arc Basin, offshore Newfoundland, Canada. AAPG Bulletin, 94, 1059-1078.

The engineering work of worms

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"Every seashell has a story to tell if you're listening,
But underneath every shell there's a story as well if you've heard enough of the sea.
Then everything on the top will just suddenly stop seeming interesting,
So listen now to the sound of the things that are found under the ground."

(Metal Detector, They Might Be Giants)