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Unusual shallow marine matground-adapted benthic biofacies from the Lower Triassic of the northern Paleotethys: implications for biotic recovery following the end-Permian mass extinction

journal contribution
posted on 2019-02-01, 00:00 authored by X Feng, Z Q Chen, D J Bottjer, S Wu, L Zhao, Y Xu, Guang ShiGuang Shi, Y Huang, Y Fang, C Tu
We report two shallow marine, ichnofauna-bivalve-microbial mat biofacies from the Lower Triassic Xiahuancang Formation of the southern Qilian area, Qinghai Province, northwestern China, which was located at moderate-high paleolatitudes on the northern margin of the Paleotethys Ocean. Paleoenvironmental analyses show that Members I and II of the Xiahuancang Formation represent a shoreface and a lower shoreface to offshore transition setting, respectively. Biofacies 1, recognized from Member I, is characterized by a diverse ichnofauna (including deep-tiers of Rosselia and Diplocraterion), Claraia-dominated bivalves, and microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISSs). Biofacies 2, in succeeding Member II, is dominated by a diverse ichnofauna, epifaunal and shallow infaunal bivalves, and wrinkle structures. Primary co-occurrences, preservational features, and palimpsest or crosscutting relationships of all components within the biofacies indicate that microbial mats, bivalves, and trace-makers actively interacted with one another during deposition. They largely represent contemporaneous biotic associations. Microbial mats are interpreted to have grown under well-oxygenated conditions after storm deposition due to the association of deep-tiering infauna and diverse epifauna as well as well-developed cross-stratification, and the top layer of microbial mats could serve as an oasis for metazoans. Microbial mats not only proliferated in harsh environments, but also coexist with epifauna and deep-tiering infauna in well-oxygenated settings following the end-Permian crisis. Their occurrences in the Early Triassic are unrelated to environmental stresses, which are coincident with their sedimentologic record from other geological time intervals. Apparently, the southern Qilian ichnofauna-bivalve-microbial mat biofacies with juxtaposed epifauna, infauna and MISS- or wrinkle-related microbial mats represents a matground-adapted benthic metazoan ecosystem in the earliest Triassic, which provided sufficient oxygen, food, and other hydrodynamic conditions hospitable for metazoans and ecosystems to recover and reached a fairly high level (recovery stage 3) in a tough time when most biotas suffered biotic depletion and environmental stress. The biotic components in unique biofacies may represent a phase shift community in siliciclastic settings during the Early Triassic.



Earth-science reviews




194 - 219




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Elsevier B.V.