The lower Eocene McAbee fossil beds (∼53 Ma), in south-central British Columbia, Canada, represent a lacustrine sequence deposited during a time of pervasive regional volcanism. Previous studies on fossil assemblages at the McAbee fossil beds consist of amalgamated collections of plants from several disjunct and stratigraphically unconstrained exposures and horizons, with limited knowledge of the spatio-temporal variation in depositional and taphonomic setting. This study presents a high-resolution lithostratigraphic analysis of the McAbee main site to provide stratigraphic, paleoenvironmental, and taphonomic context to fossil collections. A lithostratigraphic framework was developed for the McAbee main site by correlating tuff marker beds. The sequence was divided into eight lithostratigraphic units on the basis of systematic lithologic trends, a result of varying degrees of volcanic influences. An absence of shallow water indicators, bioturbation, and evidence for fluvio–deltaic influence, and the nonrestricted presence of highly abundant and diverse well-preserved plant fossils indicates a deep water, yet relatively near shore facies, suggesting steep sided lake margins. This taphonomic regime imparts minimal transport- and degradation-induced biases in fossil plant assemblages and suggests plant fossils represent local vegetation growing near the point of deposition. The new lithostratigraphic framework coupled with a refined understanding of depositional setting and taphonomic regime demonstrates the opportunity to document conditions of forest ecology within a dynamic volcanic environment over millennial and multi-millennial time scales.

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