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Title: A taphonomic study of the Wealden beds of southern Britain
Author: Burton, A. C.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1998
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Abstract:
The association of particular taphonomic signatures with particular Wealden physical environments is investigated through taphonomic analyses of samples of bones from various mainland sites and the Isle of Wight. In this way an even greater insight into the mosaic of physical environments present in southern Britain during Wealden times is gained than has already been revealed by previous studies. A three end member taphonomic model best summarises the results of the research carried out. One end member of the model is represented by Cuckfield, West Sussex. Fluvial channels dominated at Cuckfield and most of the bones in the sample from the site were recovered from channel-fill deposits. These bones belonged to animals that lived in the channels themselves or on their banks, although even in the latter case input to the channels would have been more or less immediate. In the channels themselves burial rates would have been high. The taphonomic signature for Cuckfield is therefore shown to be characterised by minimal taphonomic modification. The second end member of the model is represented by Hollington, East Sussex. At Hollington and Wealden lagoon is represented, which would normally have been characterised by quiet conditions. Periodically the lagoonal waters receded and soil beds developed. Returns of the lagoonal waters were marked by high energies and reworking. The result of this fluctuating environment was that several taphonomic processes were able to leave their mark, although at different times. During periods of subaerial exposure most modification would have been due to trampling fragmentation and weathering. During the returns of the lagoonal waters abrasion would have been the dominant taphonomic process. The taphonomic signature for Hollington is therefore demonstrated to be characterised by significant taphonomic modification in all respects. The third end member of the model is represented by the lower part of the exposed Wessex Formation on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight. A floodplain environment is represented in this case. Occasionally floods may have swept across large areas of this floodplain but normally it would have remained undisturbed and sedimentation rates would have been minimal. Therefore the normal scenario for a bone would have been to have remained unburied for some considerable time at the place of death of the animal to which it had belonged. This would have allowed for significant modification through weathering and trampling but little in the way of abrasion. The taphonomic signature revealed in this case is an exact reflection of this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.597150  DOI: Not available
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