Revised interpretations of Mesozoic palaeogeography and volcanic arc evolution in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region
Terrestrial sedimentary rocks at Hope Bay, northern Graham Land are well known for their diverse but poorly-preserved fossil flora, previously assigned ages ranging from Early Jurassic-Early Cretaceous. The beds form part of the Botany Bay Group, which comprises several outcrops of terrestrial sediments in northern Graham Land and the South Orkney Islands. A latest Jurassic or earliest Cretaceous age for the Hope Bay plant bearing sequence (and by extension for the rest of the Botany Bay Group) has been adopted in most recent publications dealing with Mesozoic volcanic arc evolution and palaeogeography of the northern Antarctic Peninsula region. New evidence, based upon the study of extensive collections of previously undescribed fossil plants from Hope Bay and nearby Botany Bay, indicates that they should be assigned an Early Jurassic age. The new palaeobotanical findings, combined with recently-published radiometric data from overlying volcanic sequences, show that a Cretaceous age is no longer tenable for these floras nor, therefore, for the Botany Bay Group in Graham Land. Interpretations of Mesozoic volcanic arc evolution and palaeogeography in this region are revised accordingly.