Cretaceous and Cenozoic vegetation of Antarctica integrating the fossil wood record
Published:January 01, 2006
Imogen Poole, David J. Cantrill, 2006. "Cretaceous and Cenozoic vegetation of Antarctica integrating the fossil wood record", Cretaceous–Tertiary High-Latitude Palaeoenvironments: James Ross Basin, Antarctica, J. E. Francis, D. Pirrie, J. A. Crame
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A compilation of data for Cretaceous and Cenozoic Antarctic fossil wood floras, predominantly from the James Ross Island Basin, provides a different perspective on floristic and vegetation change when compared with previous studies that have focused on leaf macrofossils or palynology. The wood record provides a filtered view of tree-forming elements within the vegetation, something that cannot be achieved from studies focusing on regional palynology or leaf floras. Four phases of vegetation development in the over-storey are recognized in the Cretaceous and Cenozoic of the Antarctic Peninsula based on the distribution and taxonomic composition of wood floras: Aptian–Albian coniferous forests; ?Cenomanian-Santonian mixed angiosperm forests; Campanian–Maastrichtian southern temperate forests; and Palaeocene-Eocene reduced diversity Nothofagus forests. Comparisons between the wood record and information derived from palynological and leaf floras have important implications for our understanding of the spatial composition of the vegetation. There is no doubt that climate change during the Cretaceous and Tertiary influenced the vegetational composition, but evolving palaeoenvironments in the Antarctic Peninsula region were probably of equal, if not greater, importance.
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Cretaceous–Tertiary High-Latitude Palaeoenvironments: James Ross Basin, Antarctica
High-latitude settings are sensitive to climatically driven palaeoenvironmental change and the resultant biotic response. Climate change through the peak interval of Cretaceous warmth, Late Cretaceous cooling, onset and expansion of the Antarctic ice sheet, and subsequently the variability of Neogene glaciation, are all recorded within the sedimentary and volcanic successions exposed within the James Ross Basin, Antarctica. This site provides the longest onshore record of Cretaceous–Tertiary sedimentary and volcanic rocks in Antarctica and is a key reference section for Cretaceous–Tertiary global change. The sedimentary succession is richly fossiliferous, yielding diverse invertebrate, vertebrate and plant fossil assemblages, allowing the reconstruction of both terrestrial and marine systems. The papers within this volume provide an overview of recent advances in the understanding of palaeoenvironmental change spanning the mid-Cretaceous to the Neogene of the James Ross Basin and related biotic change, and will be of interest to many working on Cretaceous and Tertiary palaeoenvironmental change.