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Discussion on ‘Tectonic and environmental controls on Palaeozoic fluvial environments: reassessing the impacts of early land plants on sedimentation’
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology. (Palaeobiology)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5774-9114
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2017 (English)In: Journal of the Geological Society, ISSN 0016-7649, E-ISSN 2041-479X, Vol. 174, p. 947-950Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The first-order importance of tectonic and environmental controlsfor terrigenous sediment supply has rarely been questioned, but the role of vegetation in the modification of ancient alluvial signatures has been observed since the mid-20th century (Vogt 1941). Studies of sparsely vegetated rivers (Schumm 1968) and alluvial stratigraphic variation (Cotter 1978; Davies & Gibling 2010) led to observations of (1) plant modulation of alluvial signatures and (2) Palaeozoic facies shifts (PFS): unidirectional changes to facies diversity and frequency, in stratigraphic alliance with the plant fossil record. One PFS is the Siluro-Devonian appearance of mud rich, architecturally complex alluvium, traditionally ascribed to meandering rivers, and sedimentologically distinct from pre vegetation strata (Davies & Gibling 2010; Long 2011). Using selected secondary data, Santos et al. (2017) dispute the correlation of these observations using three key points, as follows. (1) The mid-Palaeozoic was typified by orogenic assembly of low-gradient equatorial continents and elevated sea level, which led to tropical weathering (abundant fine sediment) and extensive alluvial plains. This drove the PFS by promoting river meandering independently of vegetation. (2) Meandering does not require vegetation; this is shown by examples in Precambrian deposits, on other planets, and in ‘non-vegetated’ deserts. Meandering rivers were more abundant than the pre vegetation rock record suggests, owing to selective bypass and deflation of fine material. (3) Early Siluro-Devonian (meaning Ludlow–Early Devonian) land plants were too small, their biomass and cover too limited, and their wetland habitat too narrow to have stabilized meandering channels, influencing landscape little more than earlier microbial communities. We contest the conclusions and method of the paper, and deal with each point in turn.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 174, p. 947-950
National Category
Geology
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Historical Geology and Palaeontology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-320937DOI: 10.1144/jgs2017-004ISI: 000412699500012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-320937DiVA, id: diva2:1091627
Note

A referenced list of 366 archetypal pre-vegetation alluvial successions is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3719896

Available from: 2017-04-27 Created: 2017-04-27 Last updated: 2018-03-28Bibliographically approved

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