Abstract

The present-day notions of the Paleogene history, paleogeography, and paleobiogeography of Central Asia middle latitudes are based on studies carried by A.L. Yanshin in the second quarter of the 20th century. Here, main phases in the geologic history of the West Siberian and Turan Plates and Turgai depression are considered. In the Paleocene and Eocene, these regions were key links of a continuous meridional marine communication system connecting the Tethys and Arctic Oceans. Before the emergence of the latitudinal Alpine–Himalayan orogenic belt, the Tethys and its marginal seas formed a united shelf area. The closest linkage of the water bodies and biota exchange between them existed in the Thanetian and in the first half of the Ypresian. There was intense heat transfer from tropical to higher latitudes through the entire system of epeiric seas and straits. From the end of the Paleocene, this system was supplemented and complicated by latitudinal straits that ensured the connection of the seas of the Northern Peri-Tethys with the Northern Sea basin and the Atlantic. The combination of two sea systems determined the climatic history of this region from the Paleocene till the Late Eocene. The Arctic Basin influenced mainly the structure of cold-water benthos, and the Tethys, the composition of planktonic biota in the photic zone. During the Bartonian and Priabonian, in the last phase of marine sedimentation, the West Siberian epeiric sea was completely isolated from the Arctic Basin and connected only with the Turan sea through the Turgai strait. The Azolla beds accumulated during the low stand of the World Ocean in desalted surface waters and in disoxic bottom waters inhabited by depauperated benthos. At the Eocene/Oligocene boundary, the drainage of the Tavda–Chegan sea was followed by the formation of an N-S-directed river network in the vast areas of West Siberia, Turgai, and the northern cis-Aral region. The climate was unstable, moderately warm to subtropical, with variable humidity. The formation of the Turgai ecotype of mesophytic conifer-broadleaved flora was completed by the end of the Early Oligocene.

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