Aptian to Coniacian (Early-Late Cretaceous) palynostratigraphy of the Gustav Group, James Ross Basin, Antarctica
The GustavGroup of the James Ross Basin, Antarctic Peninsula, forms part of a major Southern Hemisphere Cretaceous reference section. Palynological data, chiefly from dinoflagellate cysts, integrated with macrofaunal evidence and strontium isotope stratigraphy, indicate that the Gustav Group, which is approximately 2.6 km thick, is Aptian–Coniacian in age. Aptian–Coniacian palynofloras in the James Ross Basin closely resemble coeval associations from Australia and New Zealand, and Australian palynological zonation schemes are applicable to the Gustav Group. The lowermost units, the coeval Pedersen and Lagrelius Point formations, have both yielded early Aptian dinoflagellate cysts. Because the overlying Kotick Point Formation is of early to mid Albian age, the Aptian/Albian boundary is placed, questionably, at the Lagrelius Point Formation–Kotick Point Formation boundary on James Ross Island, and this transition may be unconformable. Although the Kotick Point Formation is largely early Albian on dinoflagellate cyst evidence, the uppermost part of the formation appears to be of mid Albian age. This differentiation of the early and mid Albian has refined the age of the formation, previously considered to be Aptian–Albian, based on macrofaunal evidence. The Whisky Bay Formation is of late Albian to latest Turonian age on dinoflagellate cyst evidence and this supports the macrofaunal ages. Late Albian palynofloras have been recorded from the Gin Cove, lower Tumbledown Cliffs, Bibby Point and the lower–middle Lewis Hill members. However, the Cenomanian age of the upper Tumbledown Cliffs and Rum Cove members, based on molluscan evidence, is not supported by the dinoflagellate cyst floras and further work is required on this succession. The uppermost part of the Whisky Bay Formation in north-west JamesRoss Island is of mid to late Turonian age and this is confirmed by strontium isotope stratigraphy. The uppermost unit, the Hidden Lake Formation, is Coniacian in age on both palaeontological and strontium isotope evidence. The uppermost part of the formation appears to be early Santonian based on dinoflagellate cysts, but strontium isotope stratigraphy constrains this as being no younger than late Coniacian. This refined palynostratigraphy greatly improves the potential of the James Ross Basin as a major Cretaceous Southern Hemisphere reference section.