Palynological analyses of 12 samples from the Cape Melville Formation, which crops out on easternmost King George Island, Antarctica, provide new information on the type of vegetation that covered the South Shetland Islands during the early Miocene Melville Glaciation, c. 23–21 Ma. The assemblage recovered was mostly characterised by in situ algae such as leiospheres along with acanthomorph acritarchs, both glacial indicators. The sparse in situ terrestrial palynomorph assemblage included tundra-indicative moss spores Coptospora sp., rare podocarp conifer and various angiosperm pollen. The latter includes pollen of several species of Nothofagidites, plus rare Asteraceae, Caryophyllaceae (Colobanthus-type) and Chenopodipollis. The majority of the palynomorphs recovered are interpreted as reworked, denoting glacial scouring and redeposition from various sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. These reworked palynomorphs are of Permian to Paleogene age. This reworked component provides insight into the potential sources of reworking, and is consistent with multiple cycles of glacial advances to the Melville Peninsula at the time of deposition. The penecontemporaneous palynomorphs recovered provide new data on the climatic regime and glacial intensification during the early Miocene on King George Island.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1