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Rich palynomorph assemblages have been obtained through a marine Oligocene succession from the East Java Sea (Indonesia) and provide the first instance of an independently dated Oligocene succession from SE Asia that has yielded a good quality palynological record. The succession has been independently dated by nannofossils and foraminifera.

The palynomorph succession suggests climatic control on Oligocene vegetation, on which basis a regionally applicable zonation is proposed. The Early Oligocene is characterized by common rain forest elements, suggesting an everwet, rain forest climate. The early part of the Late Oligocene contains much reduced rain forest elements with grass pollen, indicating a more seasonal climate, whereas for the latest Late Oligocene, rain forest elements return in abundance, suggesting a superwet rain forest climate. This palynological succession is similar to that from the Sunda Basin in the West Java Sea, allowing the Sunda Basin succession to be dated by correlation.

The study also extends the stratigraphic range of Dacrydium and Casuarina, two plant taxa previously thought to have dispersed from the Australian Plate into SE Asia at the time of the collision with Sunda, to well before the time of collision. A different means of dispersal for these taxa is proposed.

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