Trace Fossils in the Middle Jurassic Carmel Formation of Southwestern Utah — The Independent Study project of Shipei (Vicky) Wang (’23)

Editor’s Note: Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster is a three-course series required of every student before graduation. Earth Sciences students typically begin in the second semester of their junior years with project identification, literature review, and a thesis essentially setting out the hypotheses and parameters of the work. Most students do fieldwork or lab work to collect data, and then spend their senior years finishing extensive Senior I.S. theses. Shipei (Vicky) Wang was advised by Mark Wilson (me!) and was on Team Utah 2022. The following is her thesis abstract —

My research is about the invertebrate trace fossils in the Middle Jurassic (Bajocian) Carmel Formation of southwestern Utah. In this study, I focus on three types of trace fossils, Gyrochorte Heer, Lockeia James, and Lingulichnus Hakes, 1976. In De Gibert and Ekdale’s (1999) research, the trace fossils they found in the Carmel of central Utah represent an environmentally-stressed benthic community in a marginal marine, restricted setting, with salinities above normal marine and with depletion of oxygen in pore waters. Our study site is in southwest Utah, which was more marginalized and restricted than that of De Gibert and Ekdale (1999) in the Bajocian. My hypothesis is that our trace fossils will have a similar restricted trend with what De Gibert and Ekdale (1999) found in central Utah but show more characteristics related to marginalized and restricted marine settings (such as lower diversity and smaller sizes). In my study, the width of Gyrochorte fossils do not have a significant difference from what De Gibert and Ekdale (1999) found in central Utah. Besides that, the trace fossils we found in the Bajocian of southwest Utah have less diversity. My results did not show characteristics related to more marginalized and restricted marine settings.

Lingulichnus in bedding plane view. (See this blog post for details.)

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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