Middle Miocene (Serravallian) wetland development on the northwest edge of Europe based on palynological analysis of the uppermost Brassington Formation of Derbyshire, United Kingdom

McCoy, Jessica, Barrass-Barker, Tabitha, Hocking, Emma, O'Keefe, Jennifer M.K., Riding, James B. and Pound, Matthew (2022) Middle Miocene (Serravallian) wetland development on the northwest edge of Europe based on palynological analysis of the uppermost Brassington Formation of Derbyshire, United Kingdom. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 603. p. 111180. ISSN 0031-0182

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.111180


In this paper, we describe palynological assemblages in the Middle Miocene (Serravallian) Kenslow Member of the Brassington Formation at Bees Nest Pit, near Brassington, Derbyshire, U.K., and infer vegetation types and their palaeoclimate implications. The limited lateral extent of the 1.33 m-thick succession of clay and lignite, and its position surrounding fragments of a large tree trunk, suggests that the succession may have accumulated within a tree throw hole or possibly within a shallow stagnant pond, although aquatic lacustrine palynomorphs have not been identified to confirm this latter hypothesis. The stratigraphical distribution of palynological assemblages, based on 58 samples allows reconstruction of a wetland succession. Two pollen zones were identified using CONISS cluster analysis, and a predominantly warm-temperate and mixed mesophytic forest biome was recognised with Tsuga conifer pollen-types being dominant (<42%) in both pollen zones. Changes in the make-up of this forested wetland were in response to local environmental changes rather than major climatic shifts. Wetland development culminated in the formation of a relatively open shrub and reed-dominated mire which produced the lignite-precursor peat. Applying the Co-existence Approach, Mean Annual Temperature was 15.6–21.7 °C and Mean Annual Precipitation was 703–1682 mm indicating a warm-temperate to subtropical palaeoclimate, and both parameters show no significant change through the section. Findings suggest that, following the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum, the Serravallian climate of the northwestern margin of Europe remained much wetter than Central Europe, where more arid climates have been reconstructed, and this difference may have been due to the influence of the proto-North Atlantic Current.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The fieldwork was made possible with an Elspeth Matthews Fund granted by the Geological Society to Matthew Pound in 2019. Matthew Pound thanks NERC (NE/V01501X/1) and Jennifer M.K. O'Keefe thanks NSF (award #2015813) for funding ongoing research into the Middle Miocene through the Fungi in a Warmer World (FiaWW) project. We are grateful to Jayne Spencer, the owner of Bees Nest Pit and Natural England for facilitating access to this disused quarry. Lesley Dunlop, Peter Jones, Michael Lim and Cameron Reaveley are thanked for their help with the fieldwork. Dave Thomas of Northumbria University is thanked for his assistance with the Mastersizer. James B. Riding publishes with the approval of the Director, British Geological Survey (NERC). The authors thank Torsten Utescher, Howard Falcon-Lang and an anonymous reviewer for their comments which provided very helpful insight for manuscript development.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lignite, Climate change, Miocene, Palynology, Vegetation, United Kingdom
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2022 15:39
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 14:45
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/49829

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