Abstract

This study explores the potential of the ostracod Cyprideis torosa (Jones, 1850) as a brackish-water indicator for mapping freshwater/estuarine boundaries in Pleistocene interglacials in SE England. Ostracod species records from MIS 9 (Purfleet) and MIS 11 (Hoxnian) interglacial sites are mapped onto established palaeogeographies of the Thames–Medway river system, revealing distribution patterns indicative of a salinity gradient from west (freshwater) to east (brackish estuarine) in both cases. Comparisons with the ostracod biofacies of the present-day Thames Estuary suggest there may be no exact modern analogue for the Thames/Medway palaeoenvironments of the MIS 9 and MIS 11 interglacials. A similar conclusion is drawn from discussion of noding in C. torosa, which is common in the interglacial assemblages but extremely rare in the modern estuary. The value of mapping C. torosa onto estuarine palaeogeography is limited by taphonomic considerations because post-mortem transport and mixing in a macrotidal estuary significantly influence the composition of ostracod assemblages. Nevertheless, its use in combination with other brackish-water taxa provides useful insights regarding the palaeosalinity regimes of the lower River Thames and River Medway during the MIS 9 and MIS 11 interglacials.

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