Beds in the Upper Ramparts Canyon of the Porcupine River, Alaska (67?? 20' N, 141?? 20' W), yielded a flora rich in pollen of hardwood genera now found in the temperate climates of North America and Asia. The beds are overlain or enclosed by two basalt flows which were dated to 15.2 ?? 0.1 Ma by the 40Ar 39Ar method, fixing the period of the greatest abundance of warm-loving genera to the early part of the middle Miocene. The assemblage is the most northern middle Miocene flora known in Alaska. Organic bed 1 underlies the basalt and is older than 15.2 Ma, but is of early to middle Miocene age. The pollen assemblage from organic bed 1 is dominated by conifer pollen from the pine and redwood-cypress-yew families with rare occurrences of temperate hardwoods. Organic bed 2 is a forest floor containing redwood trees in life position, engulfed by the lowest basalt flow. A pine log has growth rings up to 1 cm thick. Organic beds 3 and 4 comprise lacustrine sediment and peat between the two basalt flows. Their palynoflora contain conifers and hardwood genera, of which about 40% have modern temperate climatic affinities. Hickory, katsura, walnut, sweet gum, wingnut, basswood and elm pollen are consistently present, and beech and oak alone make up about 20% of the pollen assemblage. A warm high latitude climate is indicated for all of the organic beds, but organic bed 3 was deposited under a time of peak warmth. Climate data derived by comparison with modern east Asian vegetation suggest that, at the time of deposition of organic bed 3, the Mean Annual Temperature (MAT) was ca. 9??C, the Warm Month Mean Temperature (WMMT) was ??? 20??C and the Cold Month Mean Temperature (CMMT) was ca. -2??C. In contrast, the modern MAT for the region is -8.6??C, WMMT is 12.6??C and CMMT is -28??C. Organic beds 3 and 4 correlate to rocks of the middle Miocene-late Seldovian Stage of Cook Inlet and also probably correlate to, and more precisely date, the lower third of the Suntrana Formation in the Alaska Range, beds at Unalaklect, part of the upper Mackenzie Bay sequence in the Beaufort-Mackenzie basin, and the Mary Sachs gravel of Banks Island. This suggests that forests with significant percentages of temperate deciduous angiosperms existed between latitudes 60?? and 72??N during the early middle Miocene. ?? 1994.
Additional publication details
Palynology, paleoclimatology and correlation of middle Miocene beds from Porcupine River (locality 90-1), Alaska