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Ichnology and sedimentology of the Triassic carbonates of North-west Sardinia, Italy



The classical Middle to Upper Triassic carbonate sections at Monte Santa Giusta and Punta del Lavatoio, North-west Sardinia (Italy), referred to the Muschelkalk and Keuper lithofacies group, are revisited and their trace fossil content is investigated for the first time. A combined ichnological and sedimentological study reveals insights into the depositional environments, regional context, palaeogeography and sequence stratigraphy. The results indicate deposition on a homoclinal carbonate ramp with broad facies belts. All recognized trace fossils are also known from time-equivalent deposits of Germany and thus indicate a close affinity between the North-west Sardinian Triassic and the Germanic Basin. Only a few trace fossils are particularly abundant and these indicate opportunistic colonization by their producers, which is probably related to restricted endobenthic conditions due to reduced oxygen and/or increased salinity. The trace fossil association can be grouped into a softground suite belonging to the Cruziana ichnofacies, and a firmground suite of the Glossifungites ichnofacies. This discrimination enables an interpretation of the northern Monte Santa Giusta section as a carbonate ramp with extensive tidal flats and abundant carbonate accumulation in a relatively proximal position, whereas the southern Punta del Lavatoio section exhibits broad lagoonal environments with reduced sedimentation in a deeper and more Tethys-influenced area. The Sardinian sections are ichnologically similar to the Anisian–Ladinian succession known from the Tatra Mountains, but differ from it by having a slightly higher ichnodiversity, which again can be attributed to a less restricted lagoonal environment. This study demonstrates the importance of integrating trace fossil analysis in sedimentological and palaeontological investigations of carbonate systems.