How likely was a green Antarctic peninsula during warm Pliocene interglacials? A critical reassessment based on new palynofloras from James Ross Island

Salzmann, Ulrich, Riding, James, Nelson, Anna and Smellie, John (2011) How likely was a green Antarctic peninsula during warm Pliocene interglacials? A critical reassessment based on new palynofloras from James Ross Island. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 309 (1-2). pp. 73-82. ISSN 0031-0182

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.01.028

Abstract

The question whether Pliocene climates were warm enough to support a substantial vegetation cover on Antarctica is of great significance to the ongoing controversial debate on the stability or dynamism of Antarctic ice sheets during Neogene warm periods. Here we present a systematic palynological comparison of pollen and dinoflagellates assemblages of Pliocene diamictites from the northern Antarctic Peninsula. The sedimentary sequences are exceptionally well dated using a combination of 40Ar/39Ar and 87Sr/86Sr on interbedded lavas and pristine bivalve molluscs. The pollen bearing sediments were most probably deposited during warm and seasonally ice-free conditions. Pollen assemblages are dominated by Nothofagidites spp., Podocarpidites spp. and Cyathidites spp., suggesting contamination with older, pre-Neogene material. In order to distinguish between reworked and in-situ palynomorphs, we applied different methods, including fluorescence microscopy, which were used in previous publications to reconstruct potential Neogene vegetation. Our results indicate a purely Cretaceous and early Tertiary origin of pollen and spores and challenge previously published reconstructions of a Pliocene tundra vegetation on Antarctica.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pliocene; Antarctica; Vegetation, pollen, Dinoflagellate, Neogene, Antarctic Peninsula
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Helen Pattison
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2012 12:14
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:20
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6358

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