Critical assessment of a proposed biostratigraphic scheme for Late Triassic fissure sediments from South West England
Questions as to the tempo and mode of changes in faunal composition at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary remain unanswered. Inquiries are hampered by a general paucity of sections containing correlatable Late Triassic/Early Jurassic strata. Vertebrate fossil material from Cromhall Quarry, recovered as part of an extended project centered on Late Triassic fissure infillings in southwestern Britain, was organized into a biostratigraphic scheme in 1993. This scheme could prove important in correlating Late Triassic continental strata.
The Cromhall data consists of taxonomic counts from individual Stratigraphic levels within a series of fissures. Level counts were sorted into a series of sequential sedimentary and faunal associations that rest on the assumption that significant differences in faunal composition occur between individual fissures, but do not exist between individual sedimentary strata within any one fissure. Before the biostratigraphic framework could be utilized, the actual degree of similarity between the fissure faunas had to be quantified and tested.
The original database, and counts from newly processed material, were subjected to Principle Components and Cluster Analyses. The analyses suggest that the majority of stratigraphic levels within any one fissure contain faunas with very similar composition. Levels from fissures that are temporally sequential contain faunas that are somewhat similar in composition. Overlap, in faunas found in strata at the top and bottom of sequential fissures, can be detected. In addition, there is a trend toward increased presence of certain taxa in the younger levels. These results indicate that the biostratigraphic framework may be used to enhance Triassic-Jurassic boundary research.