A palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Middle Jurassic of Sardinia (Italy)

Luca Giacomo Costamagna, Evelyn Kustatscher, Giovanni Giuseppe Scanu, Myriam Del Rio, Paola Pittau & Johanna H.A. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert

During the Jurassic, Sardinia was close to continental Europe. Emerged lands started from a single island forming in time a progressively sinking archipelago. This complex palaeogeographic situation gave origin to a diverse landscape with a variety of habitats. Collection- and literature-based palaeobotanical, palynological and lithofacies studies were carried out on the Genna Selole Formation for palaeoenvironmental interpretations. They evidence a generally warm and humid climate, affected occasionally by drier periods. Several distinct ecosystems can be discerned in this climate, including alluvial fans with braided streams (Laconi-Gadoni lithofacies), paralic swamps and coasts (Nurri-Escalaplano lithofacies), and lagoons and shallow marine environments (Ussassai-Perdasdefogu lithofacies). The non-marine environments were covered by extensive lowland and a reduced coastal and tidally influenced environment. Both the river and the upland/hinterland environments are of limited impact for the reconstruction. The difference between the composition of the palynological and palaeobotanical associations evidence the discrepancies obtained using only one of those proxies. The macroremains reflect the local palaeoenvironments better, although subjected to a transport bias (e.g. missing upland elements and delicate organs), whereas the palynomorphs permit to reconstruct the regional palaeoclimate. Considering that the flora of Sardinia is the southernmost of all Middle Jurassic European floras, this multidisciplinary study increases our understanding of the terrestrial environments during that period of time.

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