Taphonomic pathways and comparative biofacies and taphofacies in a Recent intertidal/shallow shelf environment

K. H. Meldahl, Karl Flessa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


The development of taphonomic approaches to facies analysis requires a foundation in facies-based actualistic studies. Modern intertidal and shallow shelf environments at Provincetown Harbor, northern Cape Cod, Massachusetts provide an opportunity to compare patterns and controlling factors in molluscan biofacies and taphofacies distributions. Variation in faunal composition, ecologic variables and taphonomic attributes of molluscan death assemblages produce distinct patterns of environmental zonation: (1) Faunal composition primarily tracks variation in substrate type among environments (sand, rock, peat, and Zostera marina beds). (2) Ecologic variables (equitability, infauna:epifauna ratio, gastropod:bivalve ratio, and predation on M. mercenaria) appear to reflect tidal exposure time. (3) Taphononic attributes (fragmentation, abrasion, corrosion, bioerosion, and encrustation) of the common bivalve M. mercenaria track environmental energy, in particular its effects on the stability and reworking of hardparts at the sediment surface. Shells in different environments proceed along different taphonomic pathways - the order of acquisition of taphonomic features by hardparts. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-60
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Palaeontology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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