Abstract

A palynological study of the Cerrejon Formation was conducted in order to date the formation and understand the floristic composition and diversity of a Paleocene tropical site. The Cerrejon Formation outcrops in the Cerrejon Coal Mine, the largest open cast coal mine in the world. Two cores (725 m) were provided by Carbones del Cerrejon LLC for study. Two hundred samples were prepared for palynology, and at least 150 palynomorphs were counted per sample where possible. Several statistical techniques including rarefaction, species accumulation curves, detrended correspondence analysis, and Anosim were used to analyze the floristic composition and diversity of the palynofloras. Palynomorph assemblages indicate that the age of the Cerrejon Formation and the overlying Tabaco Formation is Middle to Late Paleocene (ca. 60–58 Ma). Major structural repetitions were not found in the Cerrejon Formation in the Cerrejon coal mine, and there is little floral variation throughout. The floral composition, diversity, and lithofacies do not change significantly. Lithofacies associations and floral composition indicate deposition fluctuating from an estuarine-influenced coastal plain at the base to a fluvial-influenced coastal plain at the top. There are, however, significant differences in the composition and diversity of coal and siliciclastic samples. Coal palynofloras have fewer morphospecies, and a distinct and more homogeneous floral assemblage compared to assemblages from the intervening sisliciclastic strata, suggesting that tropical swampy environments supported fewer plant species and had a distinct vegetation adapted to permanently wet environments.

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