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Fire-prone plant communities and palaeoclimate of a Late Cretaceous fluvial to estuarine environment, Pecínov quarry, Czech Republic

  • H. J. FALCON-LANG (a1), J. KVAČEK (a2) and D. ULIČNÝ (a3)

Abstract

The botanical identity and facies distribution of fossil charcoal is described from Middle to Late Cenomanian (90–94 Ma) fluvial to estuarine units at Pecínov quarry, near Prague, Czech Republic. Braided alluvial facies associations contain charred conifer woods (family Pinaceae) possibly derived from upland forest fires, and abundant charred angiosperm woods, flowers and inflorescences (families Lauraceae and ?Platanaceae) derived from riparian gallery forest fires (Unit 2). Retrogradational coastal salt marsh facies associations contain abundant charred conifer wood (families Cheirolepidiaceae and Cupressaceae/Taxodiaceae) derived from fires in halophytic backswamp forest, and rare pinaceous charred cones and lauraceous angiosperm wood washed downstream from fires further inland (Units 3–4). Progradational coastal facies associations within an estuary mouth setting contain abundant charred conifer wood (family Cupressaceae/Taxodiaceae), common taxodiaceous conifer and angiosperm leaves, fern rachises, and lycopsid stems derived from fires in mesic backswamp taxodiaceous forests and supra-tidal fern-lycopsid thickets (Unit 5). Growth rings in angiosperm and conifer woods, leaf physiognomy and computer models indicate that climate was equable, warm and humid, but that there was a short annual dry season; most fires probably occurred during these annual drought periods. The abundance of charcoal and the diversity of taxa preserved in this state indicate that nearly all plant communities were fire-prone. Physiognomically, the Pecínov flora resembles present-day seasonally-dry subtropical forests where fires are a common occurrence.

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Corresponding author

Author for correspondence, present address: Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3J5, Canada; e-mail hfalconl@is.dal.ca

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