Disappeared almost without a trace: Taphonomic pathways and the recognition of hidden bioturbation events in Eocene storm deposits (Paují Formation, Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela)

Luis A. Buatois, Manuel Delgado, M. Gabriela Mángano


Shallow-marine deposits, included in the “Basal Sands” of the Eocene Paují Formation of the Maracaibo Basin in western Venezuela, record deposition in fore shore to lower off shore settings. These deposits are stacked in coarsening-upward parasequences that reflect variable intensities and frequencies of storms. Of particular interest are sharp-based, amalgamated, hummocky cross-stratified and rippled, very fine-grained sandstone beds, observed in the core MOT-X from the Motatán Field. These beds record storm deposition, under purely oscillatory to combined flows in an offshore-transition setting. The amalgamated nature of the sand stone interval indicates repeated erosion, due to multiple storm events. The ichnofabrics in these tempestites result from a distinctive taphonomic pathway, reflecting the interplay between bioturbation events and storm erosion and deposition. The storm-related trace-fossil suite is represented by Diplocraterion parallelum and local occurrences of Palaeophycus tubularis, Bergaueria isp. and Thalassinoides isp., which is consistent with the relatively high energy of formation of these deposits. Fair-weather deposits are absent from the sand stone interval. However, high densities of Chondrites isp. are present in the infills of Diplocraterion parallelum and, more rarely, Thalassinoides isp. providing the sole evidence of the establishment of a resident fauna during inter-storm intervals. Deposits containing the fair-weather suites were erosionally removed during the subsequent storm. The deep-tier emplacement of Chondrites and the ability of its producer to rework other biogenic structures favour preservation, allowing recognition of a “hidden” bioturbation event that otherwise might have remained undetected.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14241/asgp.2015.028