Microfossil assemblages in Pliocene sediments from DSDP Site 274 (68??59.81???S, 173??25.64???E) provide data on the age of the sediments and suggest the presence of Nothofagus (southern beech) in Antarctica during the Pliocene. A suite of 17 samples was collected in an interval from Samples 28-274-6R-1, 83-87 cm to 28-274-11R-4, 73-77 cm (48.33-100.29 mbsf). Biostratigraphic study of the abundant diatom assemblages combined with published radiolarian data indicates that the sample interval ranges in age from 5.0 to 2.2 Ma, with an apparent unconformity between about 3.8 and 3.2 Ma. Nothofagidites (the genus for fossil pollen referable to Nothofagus) occurs throughout the interval, as well as pollen and spores with known stratigraphic ranges that unequivocally indicate reworking from older rocks. Species of Nothofagidites recovered include N. asperus, N. brachyspinulosus, N. flemingii, N. senectus, and N. sp. cf. N. lachlaniae; the latter form is previously known from the Sirius Group in the Transantarctic Mountains. Abundant palynomorphs were recovered in only three of the samples from Site 274 (Samples 28-274-9R-2, 15-19 cm; 28-274-9R-2, 48-52 cm; and 28-274-9R-2, 65-69 cm). Based on the diatom and radiolarian biostratigraphic data, the ages of these samples range from 3.00 to 3.01 Ma. The relative abundance of N. sp. cf. N. lachlaniae in the three samples is an order of magnitude higher than relative abundances for the other species of Nothofagidites in the same samples. The significantly higher relative abundance of N. sp. cf. N. lachlaniae suggests that this pollen was derived from trees of Nothofagus that were living in Antarctica during the mid Pliocene. Diatom assemblages from these three samples indicate that sediments in this interval were rapidly deposited as biogenic oozes in an open-ocean setting relatively free of sea ice, thus decreasing the possibility of reworking from a single source bed rich in N. sp. cf. N. lachlaniae. Clearly, more detailed work in additional well-dated cores from around Antarctica is needed before a clear picture of the Neogene history of Antarctic terrestrial vegetation emerges. ?? 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Evidence of Pliocene Nothofagus in Antarctica from Pliocene marine sedimentary deposits (DSDP Site 274)