ABSTRACT

New collections of plant macrofossils and radiometric dates from the Herren beds of north-central Oregon provide the opportunity to document floral communities and calculate foliar-derived climate estimates from the warm early Eocene and the cooler middle Eocene. Plant macrofossils were collected from one fluvial site at East Birch Creek approximately 2 m below a 51.9 ± 0.9 Ma tuff. Collections were also made at two co-occurring fluvial sites at Arbuckle Mountain, whose ages are constrained to ca. 44.5–43.8 Ma based on a dated tuff from Willow Creek (44.5 ± 0.8 Ma) and reported ages for the overlying Clarno Formation. Floral findings show an almost complete vegetation overturn, with only two genera (Glyptostrobus and Allantodiopsis) appearing in both floras. Both floras are species poor, but the older East Birch Creek flora has higher richness and evenness than the younger Arbuckle Mountain flora. The four named genera at East Birch Creek are taxa found throughout Eocene North America; named genera at Arbuckle Mountain also include taxa restricted to the Pacific Northwest. Leaf margin analysis and leaf area analysis of the East Birch Creek community suggest a warmer and possibly wetter (mean annual temperature 23.4 ± 4.3 °C; mean annual precipitation 206 +89, -63 cm) climate than the Arbuckle Mountain flora (16.4 ± 4.2 °C; 165 +50, -71.4 cm). This research provides a framework for future research on Eocene floristic, environmental, and climatic trends of the Pacific Northwest.

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