Late Messinian flora from the post-evaporitic deposits of the Piedmont Basin (Northwest Italy)


In the Piedmont Basin (PB), one of the northernmost Mediterranean basins recording the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), pollen and plant macroremains (leaves, fruits and seeds) were studied in four sedimentary sections of the post-evaporitic interval (5.6–5.33 Ma). The joint palaeobotanical investigations of the two datasets allowed the reconstruction of a floristic assemblage which consists of 133 taxa (95 woody and 38 non-woody taxa). The lowland/coastal vegetation reconstructed by integrating macro- and microfossil data exhibits several analogies with existing “types/formations” of South-Southeast Asia, whereas taxa occurring solely in the pollen record suggest the existence of altitudinal forests with conifers and a few angiosperms. We suggest that the generalized type of lowland, zonal palaeovegetation in the post-evaporitic Messinian of the PB was of no-analog type, but most similar to either “mixed mesophytic forests” or “broad-leaved evergreen forests”, which indicates a Köppen-Trewartha subtropical palaeoclimate.

Key words

palaeobotany, carpology, palynology, whole-plant concept, Messinian Salinity Crisis, palaeoenvironment