Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Terra Antartica 7:4 (2000), pp. 417-442. Copyright © Terra Antartica Publication.


Marine diatoms are the primary biostratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental tool for interpreting the upper Palaeogene and lower Neogene strata recovered during the second drilling season of the Cape Roberts Project at site CRP-2 in the western Ross Sea, Antarctica. Silicoflagellates, ebridians, and a chrysophyte cyst provide supporting biostratigraphical information. More than 100 dominantly planktic diatom taxa are recognised. Of these, more than 30 are treated informally, pending SEM examination and formal description. Many other taxa are noted only to generic level. Lower Oligocene (c. 31Ma) through lower Miocene (c. 18.5 Ma) diatoms occur from 28 mbsf down to 565 mbsf. Below this level, to the bottom of the hole at 624.15 mbsf, diatom assemblages are poorly-preserved and many samples are barren. A biostratigraphic zonal framework, consisting of ten diatom zones, is proposed for the Antarctic continental shelf. Ages inferred from the diatom biostratigraphy correspond well with geochronological data from argon dating of volcanic materials and strontium dating of calcareous macrofossils, as well as nannofossil biochronological datums. The biochronostratigraphical record from CRP-2/2A provides an important record of diatom events and mid-Cenozoic environmental changes in the Antarctic neritic zone.