Palynology of marine sediment core SBQW4, Saldanha Bay (South Africa), early Miocene


A multi-proxy study of an offshore core in Saldanha Bay (South Africa) provides new insights into fluvial deposition, ecosystems, phytogeography and sea-level history during the late Paleogene-early Neogene. Offshore seismic data reveal bedrock topography, and provide evidence of relative sea levels as low as -100 m during the Oligocene. 3D landscape reconstruction reveals hills, plains and an anastomosing river system. A Chattian or early Miocene age for the sediments is inferred from dinoflagellate taxa Distatodinium craterum, Chiropteridium lobospinosum, Homotryblium plectilum and Impagidinium paradoxum. The subtropical forest revealed by palynology includes lianas and vines, evergreen trees, palms and ferns, implying higher water availability than today, probably reduced seasonal drought and stronger summer rainfall. From topography, sedimentology and palynology we reconstruct Podocarpaceaedominated forests, Proto-Fynbos, and swamp/riparian forests with palms and other angiosperms. Rhizophoraceae present the first South African evidence of Palaeogene/Neogene mangroves. Subtropical woodland-thicket with Combretaceae and Brachystegia (Peregrinipollis nigericus) probably developed on coastal plains. Some of the last remaining Gondwana elements on the sub-continent, e.g., Araucariaceae, are recorded. Charred particles signal fires prior to the onset of summer dry climate at the Cape. Marine and terrestrial palynomorphs, together with organic and inorganic geochemical proxy data, suggest a gradual glacio-eustatic transgression. The data shed light on Southern Hemisphere biogeography and regional climatic conditions at the Palaeogene-Neogene transition. The proliferation of the vegetation is partly ascribed to changes in South Atlantic oceanographic circulation, linked to the closure of the Central American Seaway and the onset of the Benguela Current ~14 Ma.

Supplement to: Neumann, Frank Harald; Roberts, David; Cawthra, Hayley C; Carr, Andrew S; Scott, Louis; Durugbo, Ernest; Humphries, Marc; Cowling, Richard; Bamford, Marion; Musekiwa, Chiedza; Machutchon, Michael (2017): Palaeoenvironments during a terminal Oligocene or early Miocene transgression in a fluvial system at the southwestern tip of Africa. Global and Planetary Change, 150, 1-23

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Metadata Access
Creator Neumann, Frank Harald ORCID logo; Roberts, David; Cawthra, Hayley C ORCID logo; Carr, Andrew S ORCID logo; Scott, Louis; Durugbo, Ernest; Humphries, Marc ORCID logo; Cowling, Richard; Bamford, Marion (ORCID: 0000-0003-0667-130X); Musekiwa, Chiedza; Machutchon, Michael
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 2017
Rights Licensing unknown: Please contact principal investigator/authors to gain access and request licensing terms; Data access is restricted (moratorium, sensitive data, license constraints)
OpenAccess false
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 5302 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (17.985 LON, -33.021 LAT); Saldanha Bay, South Africa