Definition of Late Cretaceous stage boundaries in Antarctica using Sstrontium ssotope stratigraphy
New 87Sr/86Sr analyses of macrofossils from 13 key marker horizons on James Ross and Vega Islands, Antarctica, allow the integration of the Antarctic Late Cretaceous succession into the standard biostratigraphic zonation schemes of the Northern Hemisphere. The 87Sr/86Sr data enable Late Cretaceous stage boundaries to be physically located with accuracy for the first time in a composite Southern Hemisphere reference section and so make the area one of global importance for documenting Late Cretaceous biotic evolution, particularly radiation and extinction events. The 87Sr/86Sr values allow the stage boundaries of the Turonian/Coniacian, Coniacian/Santonian, Santonian/Campanian, and Campanian/Maastrichtian, as well as other levels, to be correlated with both the United Kingdom and United States. These correlations show that current stratigraphic ages in Antarctica are too young by as much as a stage. Immediate implications of our new ages include the fact that Inoceramus madagascariensis, a useful fossil for regional austral correlation, is shown to be Turonian (probably Late Turonian) in age; the “Mytiloides” africanus species complex is exclusively Late Coniacian in age; both Baculites bailyi and Inoceramus cf. expansus have a Late Coniacian/Early Santonian age range; an important heteromorph ammonite assemblage comprising species of Eubostrychoceras, Pseudoxybeloceras, Ainoceras, and Ryugasella is confirmed as ranging from latest Coniacian to very earliest Campanian. An important new early angiosperm flora is shown to be unequivocally Coniacian in age. Our strontium isotopic recalibration of ages strengthens the suggestion that inoceramid bivalves became extinct at southern high latitudes much earlier than they did in the Northern Hemisphere and provides confirmation that, in Antarctica, belemnites did not persist beyond the Early Maastrichtian.
Authors: McArthur, J.M., Crame, J.A., Thirlwall, M.F.