The Cambro-Ordovician Deadwood Formation and Aladdin Sandstone represent intertidal and subtidal, nearshore deposystems that contain few well-preserved body fossils, but contain abundant trace fossils. The present study uses the much neglected trace-fossil fauna to describe the diverse paleoenvironments represented in the Deadwood-Aladdin deposystems, and to better understand the environmental conditions that controlled benthic life in the Early Paleozoic. The Deadwood-Aladdin ichnotaxa can be separated into three distinct assemblages based on the changing sedimentologic and hydrodynamic conditions that existed across the Cambro-Ordovician shelf. Trace-fossil assemblages and corresponding lithofacies characteristics indicate that the Deadwood-Aladdin deposystems formed within an intertidal-flat and subtidal-shelf environment. Based on the distribution and numbers of preserved ichnotaxa, the intertidal flat can be subdivided further into an ecologically stressful inner sand-flat environment, and a more normal marine outer sand-flat environment, both of which belong to a mixed, Skolithos-Cruziana softground ichnofacies. The inner sand flat is characterized by low diversity, low numbers, and a general lack of complexly constructed ichnotaxa. Trace fossils common to both assemblages tend to be smaller in the inner flat compared to the outer sand flat. Taphonomic effects, such as substrate type and sediment heterogeneity, also aid in differentiating between the inner and outer sand-flat assemblages. The subtidal shelf environment is categorized in the Cruziana Ichnofacies. Ichnological evidence of periodic tempestite deposition and hardground development within this subtidal regime is manifested by high diversity and low abundance of ichnogenera.
Additional publication details
Significance of nearshore trace-fossil assemblages of the cambro-ordovician deadwood formation and Aladdin Sandstone, South Dakota