Sporomorphs from the Jackson Group (upper Eocene) and adjacent strata of Mississippi and western Alabama

Professional Paper 1084




This palynological study is based on 71 outcrop and core samples of the Jackson Group and adjacent strata from the type area of the group in western Mississippi and also from eastern Mississippi and western Alabama. The Jackson Group consists entirely of marine strata in the region of study. It includes the fossiliferous greensands of the Moodys Branch Formation at the base and the calcareous Yazoo Clay at the top. One hundred seventy-four sporomorph (spore and pollen) types are known from the Jackson Group and adjacent strata in the area of study; all but four of them were observed by the writer. The 174 types are assigned to 74 form genera, 37 modern genera, and 25 new species. Eleven species of pollen grains appear to have accurately determined restricted stratigraphic ranges within the sequence studied. Parsonsidites conspicuus Frederiksen and Ericipites aff. E. ericius (Potonie) Potonie have first occurrences (range bottoms) at the base of the Jackson Group. Aglaoreidia pristina Fowler has its first occurrence near the top of the Jackson. Eight species have last occurrences at or just below the top of the Jackson Group. These are Casuarinidites cf. C. granilabratus (Stanley) Srivastava, Chrysophyllum brevisulcatum (Frederiksen) n. comb., Cupanieidites orthoteichus Cookson and Pike, Symplocos gemroota n. sp., Nudopollis terminalis (Pflug and Thomson) Elsik, Sabal cf. S. granopollenites Rouse, Caprifoliipites tantulus n. sp., and Nypa echinata (Muller) n. comb. From the upper part of the Claiborne Group up through most of the Jackson, the dominant sporomorph types are Cupuliferdipollenites spp., Momipites coryloides Wodehouse, Cupuliferoidaepollenites liblarensis (Thomson) Potonie, Momipites micTofoveolatus (Stanley) Nichols, Quercoidites microhenricii (Potonie) Potonie, and Araliaceoipollenites granulatus (Potonie) n. comb. All these were probably produced by trees of the Juglandaceae and Fagaceae. Relative frequencies of each of these pollen types fluctuate little within the interval from the upper part of the Claiborne to near the top of the Jackson. Near the top of the Jackson Group, there is a rapid rise to dominance or near dominance of the sporomorph assemblages by Quercoidites inamoenus (Takahashi) n. comb. (Fagaceae, Dryophyllum or Quercus). This remains the dominant sporomorph species through the lower part of the Vicksburg Group. On the basis of these range and relative-frequency data for spores and pollen grains, the Jackson Group is divided into two zones. Zone I includes the upper part of the Claiborne Group and all but the uppermost part of the Jackson Group; zone II includes the uppermost part of the Yazoo Clay and extends into the overlying Vicksburg Group. The two zones and the boundary between them can be traced from western Mississippi to western Alabama. Sporomorph data support evidence from physical stratigraphy and from other fossils that only a minor disconformity is present between the Claiborne and Jackson Groups in this region. In western Mississippi, the zone I-zone II boundary is below the minor disconformity separating the open marine Yazoo Clay from the uppermost lagoonal part of that formation. Sporomorph data agree with faunal evidence that no unconformity is between the Jack son and Vicksburg Groups in eastern Mississippi. No sporomorph-bearing samples were available from the uppermost part of the Yazoo Clay at Little Stave Creek in western Alabama; however, samples from above and below the uppermost part of the Yazoo show that the zone I-zone II boundary either coincides with, or is slightly below, the unconformity separating the Jackson and Vicksburg Groups there. The information on sporomorph ranges and relative frequencies suggests that the flora and the vegetation of southeastern North America changed little from late middle Eocene time until almost the end of the late Eocene. Then, perhaps because of a change in climate, some species disappeared from the regional f

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USGS Numbered Series
Sporomorphs from the Jackson Group (upper Eocene) and adjacent strata of Mississippi and western Alabama
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Professional Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
75 p.