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Are Ripple Marks Geological or Fossil?


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I’m very curious about these “ripple marks” that I have seen posted a few times on the forum. From what little research I have been able to do (so far...) they seem to be caused by wind or water erosion of the rock. However, there is mention of them possibly being fossilized rippled sediment from the floor of a body of water.  

 

So... are these geological erosions or some type of fossilized evidence of water movement? I can see how the erosion would work, but wouldn’t the sediment be compressed during lithification/fossilization and destroy the details if it was from a body of water millions of years old? 

 

Ripple Marks

 

Mention of Fossilization

 

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Hi there!

 

it is possible and rather common in some areas to get ripple marks preserved in rock. Evidence for the action of water on sediment can be preserved on many scales from the orientation of particles to ripples to cross bedding.

I would call them sedimentary structures rather than fossils, but it depends on how strictly you follow the definition of fossil (from Latin fossilis "dug up")

you are right that post burial deformation or squeezing, stretching and baking of rocks can destroy these ripples, but under the right conditions they are preserved.

There are some amazing deposits here in Australia.

 

So yes, ripple marks are soft sediment or mud ripples like you would see at a beach or estuary quickly buried and preserved in rock.

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8 minutes ago, Doctor Mud said:

Hi there!

 

it is possible and rather common in some areas to get ripple marks preserved in rock. Evidence for the action of water on sediment can be preserved on many scales from the orientation of particles to ripples to cross bedding.

I would call them sedimentary structures rather than fossils, but it depends on how strictly you follow the definition of fossil (from Latin fossilis "dug up")

you are right that post burial deformation or squeezing, stretching and baking of rocks can destroy these ripples, but under the right conditions they are preserved.

There are some amazing deposits here in Australia.

 

So yes, ripple marks are soft sediment or mud ripples like you would see at a beach or estuary quickly buried and preserved in rock.

Thanks for the info! It’s very interesting (for me at least...) to think that these would be preserved!  They seem so delicate and easily disturbed or destroyed when you find them today in a place like a beach.

 

I guess technically they would not be a fossil when using the definition of “The preserved remains of an organism that is over 10,000 years old.” Which is how I tend to think when asked “What is a fossil?”. As water is not a living organism. 

 

However, since they are the preserved evidence of water movement, I find them very cool indeed. I’m definitely adding one of these to my bucket list of specimens to get. :) 

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Fossil or sedimentary structure preservation can be a bit like real estate - location location location..... But really it is mainly about being in a location where things are quickly buried and not disturbed. Places without oxygen are great as you won't get burrowing animals messing up your nice ripples, the fast burial can quickly preserve your delicate structures from erosion.

 

One of my favourite TV shows when I was young was David Attenborough's "Forgotten Worlds Vanished Lives" and I remember a shot when the camera panned over some ripple marks and next thing you know it's in a cliff face! Not a beach!

 

Looks Like episodes are available online which I'm excited about revisiting it!

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Doctor Mud said:

Fossil or sedimentary structure preservation can be a bit like real estate - location location location..... But really it is mainly about being in a location where things are quickly buried and not disturbed. Places without oxygen are great as you won't get burrowing animals messing up your nice ripples, the fast burial can quickly preserve your delicate structures from erosion.

 

One of my favourite TV shows when I was young was David Attenborough's "Forgotten Worlds Vanished Lives" and I remember a shot when the camera panned over some ripple marks and next thing you know it's in a cliff face! Not a beach!

 

Looks Like episodes are available online which I'm excited about revisiting it!

 

 

They are now online?! Sweet! I’m adding them to my “watchlist”. :) 

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1 minute ago, FossilNerd said:

They are now online?! Sweet! I’m adding them to my “watchlist”. :) 

Yes, I just looked it up and discovered it. The link didn't work on my tablet, but they are almost an hour Long each and Internet is a bit slow here.

Dailymotion has them

 

Let me know if the link works for you.

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10 minutes ago, FossilNerd said:

@Doctor Mud The links works! Thanks!

Cool!

I just posted it in its own topic so it is easier to find too.

Looking forward to revisiting this classic soon!

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