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Climatic oscillations versus environmental changes in the interpretation of Tertiary plant assemblages

By
Zlatko Kvaček
Zlatko Kvaček
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Published:
January 01, 2000

Abstract

Zonal plant communities are the best climatic indicators because they thrive under specific climatic conditions. However, palaeoclimatic estimates based on mere comparisons of local fossil plant assemblages, even if assessed by multivariate methods, may be misleading, if the taphonomical bias is neglected. The fossil record expresses only limited parts of the vegetation of a given period. The example of the Lower Miocene section at Bílina, North Bohemian Basin, shows how quickly the composition of the plant megafossil record changes as a result of different environmental factors and sedimentary settings. These changes can imitate climatic oscillation because swamp, fluvial and upland facies represented within this site have different vegetation–palaeoclimatic aspects. On the other hand, if one compares two assemblages originating from the same sedimentary and environmental setting (preferably mesophytic conditions), the resulting palaeoclimatic changes can be estimated more safely. Two local assemblages from the Oligocene volcanic area of the České středohoří Mts in North Bohemia are of mesophytic character. Both are embedded in diatomites deposited in crater–maar lakes. The assemblage of Suletice (20–29 Ma), with prevailing thermophilous elements, indicates more warm-temperate conditions, whereas the assemblage of Bechlejovice (27 Ma), composed mostly of deciduous broadleaved trees and shrubs, corresponds to a temperate climate. Thus, together, these two floral assemblages suggest that a climatic oscillation occurred within Late Oligocene time in Central Europe.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Climates: Past and Present

Malcolm B. Hart
Malcolm B. Hart
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Plymouth, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
181
ISBN electronic:
9781862394292
Publication date:
January 01, 2000

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