Well sorted, fine lithic sandstone within the Drygalski Formation at Cape Lockyer on the southern tip of Heard Island, preserves a diverse terrestrial palynoflora as well as marine diatoms and a few foraminifera. A combination of these elements suggests a Late Miocene age (10-5 Ma). The palaeovegetation was markedly different from that presently on the island, and appears to comprise at least two ecologically distinct communities: open heath or herbfield dominated by grasses and Asteraceae, and a more mesophytic community dominated by ferns but also including lycopods and angiosperms such as Gunnera. This may have represented a coastal flora similar to the 'fern-bush' community that exists now on Southern Ocean islands north of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone, and in Tierra del Fuego; however, there is no evidence of tree species in the local flora and trace amounts of tree pollen present may have blown in from other landmasses in the region.
|Publication status||Published - 2005|