Indirect biostratigraphy in condensed successions: a case history from the Bajocian of Normandy (NW France)



The fossil assemblages of the Bajocian of Normandy are affected by taphonomic condensation, and the use of these assemblages for biostratigraphy must be carried out with great care because of the taphonomic reworking (reelaboration) of most of them. Nevertheless such beautiful fossils, ammonites in particular, retain their value at least as taxonomic references if their relative stratigraphic position is recognized. Such a goal has been achieved in the Bretteville section, where the “Oolithe Ferrugineuse de Bayeux” Formation (OFB), consisting of 14 beds contained within 170 cm of strata, is exposed. Each bed contains a condensed ammonite assemblage in which the overall chronologic interval represented by fossils is longer than the time of sedimentation of the bed, and no ammonites can be defined as contemporaneous with the enclosing matrix, except for the topmost two beds. The timing of biologic and sedimentary events in this Fe-oolitic succession must thus be established in an indirect way, through a stratigraphy of fossils based on their taphonomically delayed first occurrence. In particular, we can only define the maximum age of each layer, constrained by the youngest recorded fossil. On the basis of this approach, the lower part of the OFB is shown to fall within the middle to upper part of the Bajocian Stage (Humphriesianum to Parkinsoni chrons), whereas the uppermost OFB can be referred to as the uppermost Bajocian (latest Parkinsoni Chron). We conclude that, at Bretteville and in general for the Fe-oolites of Normandy, fossiliferous horizons with condensed assemblages have no value for definition of the biostratigraphic standard scale, and that indirect biostratigraphy is useful to assign minimal chronologic values to taxa when (1) their stratigraphical range has not yet been established in expanded successions, (2) they are new taxa, and (3) they are present only in a condensed succession that suffered from the same taphonomic constraints as the Bajocian of Normandy.


taphonomy; condensation; biostratigraphy; ammonites; Middle Jurassic; Normandy

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