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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The course aims to provide a detailed knowledge in facies analysis of fossil benthic communities through the assessment of the main biotic components of carbonate and mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sedimentary successions. Taphonomic and palaeoecological analyses are also discussed. The achieved knowledge of different analytical methods applied so far in facies analysis allows the best method for interpreting fossil sedimentary successions to be selected.
The main achievements for the students are:
• Taphonomy and biostratinomy
• Facies analysis: principles, methods, problems
• Facies succession: origination, extinction, immigration, emigration, expansion, reduction, stasis, shift, replacement
• Dominant components in tropical and non-tropical sedimentary deposits
At the end of the course the student can deal with: 1) analytical methods, 2) main characters of the most common benthic communities and their stratigraphic setting, 3) distinctive characters of the main larger foraminiferal groups, 4) analysis of calcareous algal assemblages (dasycladales, corallines), 5) knowledges on taphonomic analysis, 6) shallow-water marine palaeoenvironments.


Base knowledges in biology, chemistry, geology and stratigraphy; passed successfully the examination of Palaeontology.

Course programme

The course consists of 42-hours front lectures and one field-trip excursion (corresponding to 6 CFU).
Themes of the course (hours):
•Principles of taphonomy and biostratinomy (2).
•Classification of the marine habitats (2).
•Facies analysis and palaeoecological analysis (2).
•Field analysis of the outcrop and laboratory methods, taphonomic analysis (2).
•Qualitative and quantitative analysis (2).
•Marine facies dynamics (2).
•Shallow-water tropical and non-tropical carbonates (2).
•Examples of facies analysis of benthic communities from Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic (6).
•The larger foraminifera (4).
•The calcareous algae (3).
•Benthic assemblages of gregarious organisms (2).
•Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction (4).
•Discussions of published case studies (8).

Didactic methods

Conventional. Lectures (classroom) and one field trip.

Learning assessment procedures

The final examination cosists of:
-Oral presentation of a theme dealt with during the lectures (i.e., collection of scientific papers and critical assessment); grading breakdown 20/30
-Microfacies analysis (thin sections) of a sedimentary succession (i.e., microfacies, taphonomy, etc.); grading breakdown 10/30

The final score is the sum of the two examinations.

Reference texts

-Allasinaz, A. 1999. Invertebrati fossili. UTET.
-Raffi S. & Serpagli E. 1993,Introduzione alla Paleontologia. UTET.
-Clarkson, E.N.K. 1991. Invertebrate paleontology and evolution. Harper Collins Acad.
-Flügel, E. 2004. Microfacies of Carbonate Rocks. Analysis, Interpretation and Application. xx + 976 pp. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer-Verlag.
-Kidwell, S.M., Fürsich, F.T., Aigner, T.,1986. Conceptual framework for the analysis and classification of fossil concentrations. Palaios 1: 228-238.
-Kidwell, S.M., Holland, S.M. 1991. Field description of coarse bioclastic fabrics. Palaios, 6:426-434.

Scientific papers published in International journals regarding the facies analysis of fossil marine benthic communities.