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Keywords:

  • Miocene;
  • mixed tides;
  • Patagonia;
  • Thalassinoides ;
  • tidal bundles;
  • tubular tidalites

Abstract

The arrangement of sediment couplets preserved in Thalassinoides shafts suggests that tides regulated the passive filling of these trace fossils and, thus, represent tubular tidalites. The thickness variation in individual layers and couplets implies a mixed diurnal, semi-diurnal tidal signature where packages of either thick-layered or thin-layered couplets alternate. Calcarenitic sediment accumulated when tidal current velocity was too high to allow deposition of mud, whereas a marly mud layer is interpreted to have formed during more tranquil times of a tidal cycle (in particular, low-tide slack water). The tidal record within the burrows covers a few weeks and the corresponding spring–neap cycles. The fill of the Thalassinoides shafts is the only known record to decipher the tidal signature from otherwise totally bioturbated sediments. These deposits accumulated in a lower-shoreface to upper-offshore setting during the late Miocene on a shallow shelf extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the west into northern Patagonia. The fill of all investigated burrows started around spring tide and, thus, the behaviour of the burrow producers – probably crustaceans – is speculated to have been affected by tides or the high water level because all studied burrows became abandoned around the same period of a tidal cycle.