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Early Cambrian Teichichnus-dominated ichnofabrics and palaeoenvironmental analysis of the Caerfai Group, southwest Wales, UK

, : Early Cambrian Teichichnus-dominated ichnofabrics and palaeoenvironmental analysis of the Caerfai Group, southwest Wales, UK. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 297.2

The early Cambrian Caerfai Group of Pembrokeshire in Southwest Wales yields an intensely bioturbated Teichichnus-dominated ichnofabric, and provides evidence for the early evolution of infaunal organisms. Three units of the Caerfai Group comprise the focus of this study in sections exposed at Caerfai Bay. In the St. Non's Sandstone few primary sedimentary structures are observed, bedding being predominantly massive with subordinate parallel and current ripple cross-lamination. The topmost St. Non's Sandstone contains common soft-sediment deformation phenomena, and collectively deposition is believed to have taken place in the proximal subaqueous reaches of a steep-fronted delta system. Teichichnus is the dominant trace, with subordinate Planolites, Palaeophycus and possible Rhizocorallium. The overlying Caerfai Bay Shales were deposited from mass flows with evidence of downslope creep suggesting deposition on a steep delta front. Sandstone debrites are common, as are tuffaceous beds with evidence of reworking by bottom currents. Sandstone and tuff event beds contain common Skolithos and Arenicolites with less frequent Planolites. Interbedded mudstones contain infrequent Teichichnus. The Caerfai Bay Shales coarsen and thicken-upwards into the Caerbwdy Sandstone. Debrite sandstone beds dominate, and bed thickening upsection indicates progradation of the delta system. The dominant trace fossil within the unit is Teichichnus which is constrained to the top few centimetres of individual sandstone beds. Less common are Planolites and Palaeophycus. The size and abundance of Teichichnus in the Caerfai Group are similar to, or exceed those in contemporaneous sections in Avalonia and Baltica. Local environmental factors were probably the primary control on trace fossil distribution. Substrate and salinity are proposed as the main influences on ichnodiversity and size in the Caerfai Group. Teichichnus is most abundant in the St. Non's Sandstone, where the proximal reaches of the delta experienced reduced salinity and possibly higher oxygen levels. Burrow diameter progressively decreases upsection, and bioturbation becomes less pervasive in subsequent units of the Caerfai Group. This indicates that by the Cambrian Stage 2, significant advances into reduced salinity environments had occurred, along with the dispersal of the Teichichnus producer throughout the Avalonia-Baltica seaway. Correlation within Avalonia indicates that a transgression in the Cambrian Stage 2 initiated the deposition of the Caerfai Group marking the onset of the Welsh Basin.


DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.07.030

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