40Ar/39Ar geochronology and palynology of the Cerro Negro Formation, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica: A new radiometric tie for Cretaceous terrestrial biostratigraphy in the Southern Hemisphere

The upper part of the Jurassic‐Cretaceous Byers Group, exposed on Byers Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, consists of 1.4 km of non‐marine strata assigned to the Cerro Negro Formation. Silicic pyroclastic units close to the base of the formation have yielded new 40Ar/39Ar ages of 120.3 ± 2.2 Ma on plagioclase from one horizon, and 119.4 ± 0.6 and 119.1 ± 0.8 Ma on biotite and plagioclase from a second horizon. Plagioclase from a welded ignimbrite close to the topmost exposed part of the formation has given an 40Ar/39Ar age of 119 ± 3.0 Ma. These ages indicate that the Cerro Negro Formation was deposited during a relatively short period in early Aptian times. The identification of palynomorph taxa has enabled us to propose correlations for the Cerro Negro Formation with spore/pollen zonations of South America and Australia. The presence of Interulobites pseudoreticulatus, Appendicisporites and F. wonthaggiensis in the Cerro Negro Formation supports correlation with the Interulobites‐Foraminisporis and the lower part of the tectifera‐corrugatus zones in southern South America. The presence of Foraminisporis asymmetricus and other palynomorphs suggests correlation with the Cyclosporites hughesii Interval Zone of early to late Aptian age in Australia. These data represent a valuable addition to the few radiometric ties available for Mesozoic terrestrial palynostratigraphy in the Southern Hemisphere.


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Authors: Hathway, B., Duane, A. M., Cantrill, D. J., Kelley, S. P.

1 January, 1999
Australian Journal of Earth Sciences / 46
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