Quantitative Estimates of Time-Averaging in Brachiopod Shell Accumulations from a Holocene Tropical Shelf (SW Brazil)
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Using amino acid racemization dating calibrated with radiocarbon, 82 individual brachiopod shells, collected from four nearshore localities, were dated. The shells vary in age from modern to 3000 years, standard deviation = 680 years. The age distribution is significantly right-skewed (K3=2.48). At 50-year resolution, the temporal completeness is 75% for the last 1000 years and declines to 20% completeness for 1000-2000 yr. BP. Preservational quality (taphonomy) of modern (<50 yr.) shells is statistically indistinguishable from that of older shells, demonstrating that shell taphonomy is not a good predictor of within-assemblage relative age. These results conform to previously published results for mollusks.
Therefore, brachiopods can show considerable time-averaging and this time-averaging can be on a scale similar to aragonitic mollusks despite the apparent lack of robustness of calcitic brachiopod shells. This suggests that the brachiopod fossil record can be notably time-averaged, but estimates of this mixing cannot be reliably deciphered from the taphonomic condition of shells.
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