ESTABLISHING A BASELINE FOR RESEARCH EFFORTS AT THE FALLS OF THE OHIO DEVONIAN FOSSIL BEDS: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
The Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana is a classic locality that contains middle Devonian, highly-diverse coral assemblages. This exposure includes five distinct biozones within the Jeffersonville Limestone including an extensive bedding plane within the Coral Zone that consists of rugose and tabulate corals with massive silicified stromatoporoids and very little else. This fossil locality is well-known by paleontologists and amateurs alike because of its location within a protected state park, and incredible diversity of over 200 distinct species of corals. Despite its notoriety as an important site for understanding the nature of mid-Paleozoic coral and stromatoporoid assemblages, this locality has not yet been studied with modern paleoecological methods. In this research effort, prior and ongoing studies of the Falls of the Ohio fossil beds are compared and analyzed to establish a baseline for understanding how to characterize this famous but little-researched site. Our current efforts have established that the Coral Zone fits the classic description of a biostrome, but additional research questions remain about the taphonomic conditions, the influence of possible storm-influenced wave conditions and the degree of patchiness across the bedding plane.