Journal article

Rapid expansion of meso-megathermal rain forests into the southern high latitudes at the onset of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

EP Huurdeman, J Frieling, T Reichgelt, PK Bijl, SM Bohaty, GR Holdgate, SJ Gallagher, F Peterse, DR Greenwood, J Pross

Geology (Boulder) | GEOLOGICAL SOC AMER, INC | Published : 2021


Current knowledge of terrestrial ecosystem response to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM; ca. 56 Ma) is largely based on the midlatitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. To more fully reconstruct global terrestrial ecosystem response to the PETM, we generated vegetation and biomarker proxy records from an outcrop section on the southern coast of Australia (∼60°S paleolatitude). We documented a rapid, massive, and sustained vegetation turnover as a response to regional PETM warming of ∼1–4 °C, abruptly transitioning from a warm temperate to a meso-megathermal rain forest similar to that of present-day northeastern Queensland, Australia. The onset of this vegetation change preceded the ch..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Research Council Basins Genesis Hub

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank G. Dammers and C. Rem for laboratory assistance, and M. Huber, C. Jaramillo, and an anonymous reviewer for constructive feedback. Huurdeman and Pross acknowledge support by the German Research Foundation. Bijl and Greenwood acknowledge funding through Dutch Research Council (NWO) VENI and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grants, respectively. Gallagher was supported by the Australian International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) office and the Australian Research Council Basins Genesis Hub IH130200012.