Pollen and spores in marine Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary sediments at mid-Waipara River, North Canterbury, New Zealand

Vivi Vajda, JI Raine

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65 Citations (SciVal)


Terrestrial pollen and spores in late Maastrichtian to early Paleocene marine strata at mid-Waipara, New Zealand, permit reconstruction of contemporary vegetation and paleoclimates. During the latest Cretaceous, spore-pollen assemblages reflect a temperate rainforest with a prominent podocarp and tree ferns component, angiosperm pollen being mainly represented by Nothofagus and Proteaceae. Disruption of the vegetation at the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary is recorded by an increase in fern spores, reduction in gymnosperm pollen, and temporary loss of angiosperm pollen both in mid Waipara and in the terrestrial sections of Moody Creek Mine and Compressor Creek. Following an interval of fern dominance, gymnosperms and later angiosperms return to the palynological record. The floral turnover at the K/T boundary is comparable to palynological records from North America and Japan, indicating that disruption of vegetation was global. Fern dominance is estimated to have lasted several thousands of years, based on foraminiferal biostratigraphy of immediate post-K/T boundary strata. This is orders of magnitude greater than seen in normal seral successions following deforestation. We suggest that the observed vegetation succession is due to a prolonged period of low ambient light levels, sufficient for photosynthesis but favouring plants already adapted to these levels (such as forest ground stratum), accompanied by a moderate temperature and moisture regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-273
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology


  • fern spike
  • K/T boundary
  • Conway Formation
  • Paleocene
  • palynology
  • Late Cretaceous
  • paleoclimate
  • impact-winter


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