Early Permian climate change in the Falkland Islands

Stone, Phil; Horan, Kate. 2016 Early Permian climate change in the Falkland Islands. Geology Today, 32 (3). 107-114.

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An Early Permian glacial diamictite forms a distinctive unit within the Falkland Islands sedimentary succession and two aspects of its significance have recently been serendipitously enhanced. Fossil discoveries in exotic limestone clasts bear on palaeogeography, whilst a series of mineral-exploration borehole cores have allowed a detailed study of the sedimentary record of deglaciation that followed deposition of the diamictite. Statistical analysis of reflectance and XRF core-scanning data has identified likely Milankovitch periodicities and enabled tentative time-scale modelling. The ‘icehouse to greenhouse’ transition appears to have spanned approximately 1.2 million years, with waning cycles of re-advance superimposed on overall glacial retreat. The new results play into a long-debated geological paradox: although the Falkland Islands are now proximal to the South Atlantic coastline of South America, their geology bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the Cape Fold Belt and Karoo Basin in South Africa. This puzzled the geological pioneers, but became readily explicable when first continental drift and then plate tectonics were invoked to reconstruct the break-up of the Gondwana supercontinent—although the details remain controversial. One of the key stratigraphical correlation levels throughout the major fragments of southern Gondwana—South Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia—is the glacigenic deposit left behind by the extensive, Late Carboniferous to Early Permian regional glaciation; in the Falkland Islands it is designated the Fitzroy Tillite Formation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 02666979
Date made live: 23 May 2016 14:10 +0 (UTC)

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