Lower Cretaceous (Albian) shell-armoured and associated echinoid trace fossils from the Sácaras Formation, Serra Gelada area, southeast Spain



The Sácaras Formation (Albian, Lower Cretaceous) of the Serra Gelada succession (Prebetic of Alicante), southeast Spain, comprises carbonate-rich, upwards thickening parasequences in which many types of trace fossils have been identified. The present study focuses on two types of tubular trace fossil characterized by features of their external coating. The first type is represented by a shell-covered, structured trace fossil, up to 4?cm in diameter and 40?cm in length, built horizontally, from rectilinear (type 1) to gently curved (type 2), which envelopes an unstructured pipe of grey silty sediment. The coating is characterized by imbricated, flat particles, mainly orbitolinid foraminifers and other planar bioclasts, forming thin concentric layers; in cross section the bioclasts produce a typical plumed structure. This trace fossil represents a new ichnogenus and ichnospecies, here named Ereipichnus geladensis. Particle arrangement of the external coating is similar to that of terebelloid tubes, but Ereipichnus is a horizontal trace fossil, whereas structured worm tubes are vertical. The second type is a grain-coated trace fossil, tubular in shape, with a simple internal structure. The coating is often reddish with respect to the neighbouring dark grey sediment and shows a slightly coarser-grained texture, which envelopes the internal muddy pipe. This type, which yielded echinoids, was produced by irregular or heart-shaped sea-urchins (spatangoids) and is attributed to Scolicia or Cardioichnus. Facies analysis of the Serra Gelada succession with Ereipichnus and Scolicia or Cardioichnus locally shows other types of branched trace fossils (primarily represented by different forms of Thalassinoides) and bioturbation is developed in tiers, increasing upwards in abundance and diversity.