Alluvial ichnofacies from Upper Triassic red beds in India: Implications for palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimate

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology


Trace fossils are highly sensitive to the hydrodynamic conditions of depositional systems, substrate, and climate and hence yield information about spatio-temporal changes in palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimate. In this paper, we report alluvial trace fossil assemblages from the Upper Triassic Tiki Formation of the Rewa Basin, central India. Based on detailed facies analysis and architecture, two depositional environments are identified in this formation: (1) perennial braided channel belts and (2) extensive and complex floodplains containing ephemeral small fluvial channels, lakes, and crevasse splay deposits. Upper flow regime primary structures in laterally extensive sandstones encased in the floodplain deposits indicate short-lived high magnitude flood discharge, suggestive of seasonal climates. Trace fossils are sporadically distributed through these facies, generally in suites of low abundance, although in places the bioturbation index is higher. Three major ichnofacies, namely Skolithos, Scoyenia and Mermia are recognized, based on the association of different trace fossils preserved in the channel, crevasse splay of proximal floodplain and pond/lake of distal floodplain deposits, respectively. Vertical Beaconites in palaeosols and an abrupt change from Skolithos to Scoyenia ichnofacies indicate a highly variable water table, controlled by seasonal precipitation. The transitions between the Skolithos, Scoyenia and Mermia ichnofacies reveal that trace fossil preservation was variously controlled by channel abandonment, floodplain dewatering, substrate desiccation or periodic waterlogging of overbank areas. Specifically, increased water discharge over the floodplain during high precipitation, followed by post-flood recovery of hot, dry, low-water table conditions may have been a key controlling factor in shaping the ichnological characteristics of these Upper Triassic red beds.



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