ASGP (2015), vol. 85: 527–528


Lothar H. VALLON (1), Andrew K. RINDSBERG (2) & An thony J. MARTIN (3)

1) Geomuseum Faxe (Østsjællands Museum) Østervej, 2, DK-4640 Faxe, Denmark; e-mail: kv at
2) Dept. of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of West Alabama, Livingston, AL 35470, USA; e-mail: ARindsberg at
3) Department of Environmental Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; e-mail: geoam at

Vallon, L. H., Rindsberg, A. K. & Martin, A. J., 2015. The use of the terms trace, mark and structure. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae, 85: 527–528.

Abstract: Mark, trace and structure have been in consistently used in ichnology for many years; we wish to clarify the origins and to prescribe correct usage of these terms. The origins of the words are ancient and complex; in the twentieth century they were given clear definitions as ichnologic terms. Seilacher (1953) defined a mark (German Marke) as a physical (abiogenic) sedimentary structure, as in the common terms sole mark, flute mark, but not bite mark or scratch mark. Trace has been defined many times; we recommend the consensus definition of Bertling et al. (2006) as “a morphologically recurrent structure resulting from the life activity of an individual organism (or homotypic or ganisms) modifying the substrate”; this in cludes dwelling trace, feeding trace, bite trace. Structure, as implied in another consensus paper (Frey, 1973), is a neutral term for geologic patterns resulting from either biogenic or abiogenic processes. Use of the three terms in a clear consistent manner will aid communication both among ichnologists and between ichnologists and their colleagues in other fields.

Manuscript received: 14 October 2014, accepted 18 February 2015