Paleoenvironmental interpretation of late glacial and post-glacial fossil marine molluscs, eureka sound, Canadian Arctic Archipelago
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A total of 5065 specimens (5018 valves of bivalve and 47 gastropod shells) have been identified and classified into 27 species from 55 samples collected from raised glaciomarine and estuarine sediments, and glacial tills. The bivalves Hiatella arctica, Mya truncate, Astarte borealis, and Serripes groenlandicus are the most common species. Our samples record the dominance of infaunal suspension-feeders that are most abundant on soft substrates typically occurring in nearshore environments. The dominance of bivalves with respect to gastropods reflects an averaged record of the fossil assemblages inhabiting the high latitude nearshore environments. Six unique associations, which are comparable to the composition of modern communities inhabiting in fiords and on continental shelf from Canadian high arctic, and three distinctive taxa groups (deposit feeders, suspension-feeders, and rare taxa) are recognized by cluster analysis and Multidimensional Scaling conducted on presence-absence data. The trophic composition of paleocommunities in this study is as follows: suspension-feeders > deposit feeders > carnivores > browsers. The occurrence of Mya pseudoarenaria in fossil assemblages indicates an age of the fossils around early Holocene. Most of the samples are not substantially transported nor significantly reworked. Shell disarticulation and fragmentation can result from sea ice scouring of the seafloor and the development of permafrost in raised marine sediments. The degree of shell disarticulation for the four most common taxa is generally low which likely reflects high sedimentation rates and rapid burial in nearshore environments, especially those from glaciomarine silts and estuarine deposits. Four common species exhibit different preservation potential based the degree of fragmentation and disarticulation (Serripes < Mya < Hiatella < Astarte). Shells with high (or low) degree of fragmentation for single species (i.e. Hiatella) also correspond to different energy conditions of the associated sediments facies from which the shells are recovered. The general absence of strongly bioeroded or encrusted shells among samples suggests rapid burial of the shells with only limited exposure on the sediment surface, or the absence of grazing, boring or encrusting taxa in the environment that is dominated by infaunal habit of most of the taxa represented in the shell assemblages. Four taphofacies are recognized by cluster analysis on the basis of four taphonomic variables (fragmentation, corrasion, bioerosion, and encrustation) characterized by poor preservation, fair preservation, fair-good preservation, and fair preservation with poor corrasion respectively. Faunal succession and paleo-marine environments during the deglaciation in early Holocene are reconstructed from the seven sedimentation facies (glacial, beaches, shallow marine, proglacial, shallow marine or estuarine - pebbly sand and gravel with algal debris, shallow marine or estuarine - pebbly silt with algal debris, shallow marine or estuarine - interbedded silt and sand).
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorAitken, Alec E.
CommitteeGuo, Xulin; Archibold, O. W. (Bill)
Copyright DateApril 2006