Mid-Cretaceous stratigraphy of the James Ross Basin, Antarctica
The extensive Cretaceous sedimentary sequence exposed within the James Ross Basin, Antarctica, is critical for regional stratigraphic correlations in the Southern Hemisphere, and also for our understanding of the radiation and extinction of a range of taxonomic groups. However, the nature and definition of Cenomanian-Turonian strata on the NW margins of James Ross Island has previously been difficult, due both to marked lateral facies changes and to stratigraphical discontinuities within the extensive Whisky Bay Formation. Facies variation and local unconformities were the result of fault-controlled deep-marine sedimentation along the basin margin. In this study the Albian-Cenomanian boundary is defined for the first time in the upper levels of the Lewis Hill Member of the Whisky Bay Formation. However, there is a Cenomanian-late Turonian unconformity between the Lewis HIll and Brandy Bay members of the Whisky Bay Formation. Equivalent lithostratigraphical units exposed further to the SW on James Ross Island appear to be more complete with the early Cenomanian-late Turonian interval represented by the upper parts of the Tumbledown Cliffs and the lower part of the Rum Cove members of the Whisky Bay Formation. The Turonian-Coniacian boundary is provisionally placed at the junction between the Whisky Bay and Hidden Lake formations. The revised stratigraphic ages for this section show that the Late Cretaceous radiations of a number of major plant and animal groups can be traced back to at least the Turonian stage. This raises the possibility that their dissemination might be linked to the global Cretaceous thermal maximum.
Authors: Crame, J.A., Pirrie, D., Riding, James B.