GEO/01 - 6 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff


Learning Objectives

1. Observation and description of the fossil content of sedimentary successions;

2. Interpretation of the observed associations and of their succession (eco-biostratigraphy);

3. the use of fossils and associations as palaeoenvironmental archives, with the integration of isotopic analiyses

4. reconstruction of main events in the evolution in time and space of sedimentary basins, aiming especially to identify anomalies also caused (linked) to interactions between tectonic and sedimentation;

5. evaluation of changes and disequilibrium evidences in the organism's register, even at fine temporal scale, and possible applications for (palaeo-)environment applications

Course Structure

Teaching includes:

1. lectures with PP presentations, diagrams and, possibly, films,

2. laboratories with examination of fossils and fossiliferous rocks in order to recognize fossils of palaeoecological relevance, and fossil associations to be used for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. During laboratories, we will also learn methods for the collection, processing and presentation of data useful for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and the interpretation of the succession of fossil associations in logs and basins.

3. seminars by researchers from Italian or foreign Universities, who are specialists of particular topics.

4. field excursion at the end of the course.

Detailed Course Content

Ecology and palaeoecology. Operative categories. Information on trophic structure, fluxes and functioning in ecosystems.

Continental and marine palaeoecology. Main physiographic and depositional units in continental, marine and transitional environments.

Biotic and abiotic factors and their variations in time and space.

Influence of abiotic factors for the distribution of marine organisms in the different domains with special emphasis on benthic organisms. Benthic organisms and relationships with the substratum. Morphological adaptations for the different habitats.

Marine benthic bionomy: qualitative and quantitative models.

Zonation in the benthic domain: systems, zones and main biocoenoses having geological interest.

Heterogeneous communities and their interest as indicators of tectonic and/or climatic instability.

Preservation and possible transformations of benthic biocoenoses during taphonomy. Reworking, bioturbation and time averaging.

Fossil associations: typologies and interpretation

Information on thaphonomic analysis and on ichnological analysis.

Methods for sampling and analysing fossil community successions in the field and in the laboratory.

Interpretation of fossiliferous sedimentary successions and reconstruction of the evolution of sedimentary basins though integration of palaeoecology, thaphonomy and ichnology.

Textbook Information

Raffi S., Serpagli E. 1993. Introduzione alla Paleontologia. Utet ed. (for some topics, indicated during the course)

Margaleff. R. (Ed.) 1985. Key environments. Western Mediterranean. Pergamon Press, (for particular chapters)

Kinne O. (Ed.) (1982) - Marine Ecology. A comprehensive, integrated treatise on life in oceans and coastal waters (for particular chapters)

Briggs D.E. & Crowther P.R. (Eds.) 2001–Palaeobiology II. A synthesis. Blackwell Science.

Cognetti G., Sarà M., Magazzù G. 1999. Biologia Marina. Calderoni, Bologna.

Fortey R. 2002. Fossils: the key to the past. The Living Past Series. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.

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