Vertebrate fossil preservation in blue paleosols from the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, with implications for vertebrate biostratigraphy in the Chinle Formation

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Exposures of the Chinle Formation in Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO), Arizona, preserve one of the most important Upper Triassic terrestrial faunal assemblages in the world: in it are found key elements in the global and regional correlation of continental deposits of Upper Triassic age. Rare components of the Chinle Formation faunal assemblage, including dinosaurs and small-bodied amniotes, appear to be mostly restricted to distinctive blue-colored horizons observed at only a few sites in PEFO. The blue sites represent paleosols formed in fine-grained, abandoned channel fills and contrast markedly with red-colored floodplain deposits and paleosols that characterize most fossil localities in the Chinle Formation. The distinctive blue color is interpreted as a weathered feature of hydromorphically reduced iron. The coincidence of rare taxa and sites bearing the blue-colored paleosols suggests that the stratigraphic positions of the sites and the rare taxa they contain appear to relate to fluvial sequence tracts in PEFO and may not reflect the true stratigraphic ranges of these taxa. Copyright © 2011 SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology).

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