Dimitra Mantzouka

Remains of a subtropical humid forest in a Messinian evaporite-bearing succession at Govone, northwestern Italy – Preliminary results


The first results of a multidisciplinary study on the Messinian evaporitic interval of the Govone section (northwestern Italy), subdivided into several sedimentary cycles, are reported here. Primary sulphate evaporites and intercalated shaly deposits, which formed during the Messinian Salinity Crisis, contain well-preserved and taxonomically determinable terrestrial plant remains. Palynomorphs are present continuously all along the analysed succession and among them, pollen is especially abundant and diverse. Additionally, a few fragments of silicified wood (which are rare in the studied area) occurred in layers rich in phytodebris, but their analysis showed poor preservation of anatomy. Carpological remains are not abundant and are strongly altered by diagenesis. Compressed conifer shoots and angiosperm leaves are well-preserved in several layers, one of which yielded a particularly diverse assemblage. The various plant records have been integrated to obtain an initial general idea on the floristic composition of the assemblages and the palaeoenvironment. We hypothesize that a subtropical humid forest may have surrounded the basin, not only during the deposition of shale deposits, but also during the formation of gypsum, generally considered a product of arid climate. Despite the low-resolution sampling strategy for macrofossils, the identification of several relevant plant taxa (Engelhardia orsbergensis, Eurya stigmosa, Symplocos casparyi, Taiwania sp.), seems to indicate that the Govone section could provide an interesting glimpse into the composition of the palaeoflora of northern Italy during the deposition of the Messinian evaporites.

Key words

palaeobotany, leaves, carpology, palynology, fossil wood, Messinian Salinity Crisis, Miocene