Two ichnofacies are typical of lacustrine depositional systems. The Scoyenia ichnofacies characterizes transitional terrestrial/nonmarine aquatic substrates, periodically inundated or desiccated, and therefore is commonly present in lake margin facies. The Mermia ichnofacies is associated with well oxygenated, permanent subaqueous, fine-grained substrates of hydrologically open, perennial lakes. Bathymetric zonations within the Mermia ichnofacies are complicated by the wide variability of lacustrine systems. Detected proximal-distal trends are useful within particular lake basins, but commonly difficult to extrapolate to other lakes. Other potential ichnofacies include the typically marine Skolithos ichnofacies for high-energy zones of lakes and substrate-controlled, still unnamed ichnofacies, associated to lake margin deposits. Trace fossils are useful for sedimentologic analysis of event beds. Lacustrine turbidites are characterized by low-diversity suites, reflecting colonization by opportunistic organisms after the turbidite event. Underflow current beds record animal activity contemporaneous with nearly continuous sedimentation. Ichnologic studies may also help to distinguish between marine and lacustrine turbidites. Deep-marine turbidites host the Nereites ichnofacies that consists of high diversity of ornate grazing traces and graphoglyptids, recording highly specialized feeding strategies developed to solve the problem of the scarcity of food in the deep sea. Deep lacustrine environments contain the Mermia ichnofacies, which is dominated by unspecialized grazing and feeding traces probably related to the abundance and accessibility of food in lacustrine systems. The lower diversity of lacustrine ichnofaunas in comparison with deep-sea assemblages more likely reflects lower species diversity as a consequence of less stable conditions. Increase of depth and extent of bioturbation through geologic time produced a clear signature in the ichnofabric record of lacustrine facies. Paleozoic lacustrine ichnofaunas are typically dominated by surface trails with little associated bioturbation. During the Mesozoic, bioturbation depth was higher in lake margin facies than in fully lacustrine deposits. While significant degrees of bioturbation were attained in lake margin facies during the Triassic, major biogenic disruption of primary bedding in subaqueous lacustrine deposits did not occur until the Cretaceous.
Additional publication details
Trace fossil analysis of lacustrine facies and basins