Trace fossils are used in deposystem analysis of Late Devonian–Early Mississippian nearshore facies in the north-central Appalachian Basin. These nearshore facies resulted from separate transgressions during latest Devonian (Cleveland Shale) and earliest Mississippian (Sunbury Shale) time. Emphasis is placed on a well-exposed section at Rowlesburg, West Virginia, where the Oswayo, Cussewago Sandstone, and Riddlesburg Shale Members of the Price Formation are exposed.
The Oswayo Member at Rowlesburg preserves an offshore-to-lower shoreface transition in a complex of euryhaline, protected-bay, lagoon, and possible estuarine facies. Cruziana is common and occurs along with Arthrophycus, Bifungites, Chondrites, Planolites, Palaeophycus, Rhizocorallium, Rosselia, Rusophycus, and Skolithos in intensely bioturbated mudstone, siltstone, and sandstone. These lithologies were deposited below fair-weather wave base and grade upsection to upper shoreface facies comprised of thick, horizontally-laminated sandstones with thinner, burrowed mudstone interbeds. Upper shoreface traces consist of Arenicolites, Cruziana, Diplocraterion, Dimorphichnus, Planolites, Thalassinoides, and Skolithos. Skolithos “pipe rock” sandstones occur at the toe of upper shoreface facies. Eastward the Oswayo Member grades into a restricted-bay facies and finally into beach and tidal flat facies near its stratigraphic wedge-out in eastern West Virginia and western Maryland. The Cussewago Sandstone Member at Rowlesburg overlies the Oswayo and is bounded at the top by a disconformity. The Cussewago contains Arenicolites, Isopodichnus, Phycodes, Planolites, and Skolithos in upper shoreface sandstones possibly related to deposition in deltaic or tidal channel systems.
Regionally, the Riddlesburg Shale records a range of euryhaline environments in shallow-shelf, open-bay, and probable estuarine facies. The Riddlesburg Shale Member at Rowlesburg is comprised of dark-grey silty shales, siltstones, and hummocky cross-stratified sandstones. Trace fossils include Bergaueria, Bifungites, Fustiglyphus?, Helminthopsis, Planolites, and Skolithos. Lithofacies of the Riddlesburg Shale in West Virginia were markedly influenced by a syndepositionally active basement feature, the West Virginia Dome. Riddlesburg-age shoreface sandstones deposited on the crest of the Dome contain apparent omission surfaces with common Rhizocorallium and Arenicolites, Cruziana?, Planolites, and Skolithos.