Article: An Early Miocene plant assemblage severely influenced by a volcanic eruption, Styria, Austria
Sediment and organic facies as well as leaves, pollen, and diaspores co-occurring in a tuffite exposed in Oberdorf (Kouflach/Voitsberg lignite area, Styria, Austria) were investigated. The tuffite is distinguishable from the under- and overlying clastic sediments and shows locally normally-graded lapilli, which is assumed to be a sign of direct airfall. The plant assemblage partly resulted from a volcanic eruption that coincided with the season in which many woody plants were flowering; deciduous ones were leafless or in the state of opening their buds; diaspores were not yet developed. Leaves of evergreen woody species, buds/bud scales, and clusters of immature pollen partly with adhering anther material were stripped off their parent plants and quickly embedded in the tuffite. The leaves of deciduous taxa and herbaceous monocotyledons, diaspores, partly also pollen, and organic facies components indicate progressive degradation. Such degraded plant debris probably accumulated in the backswamp sediments prior to the volcanic eruption. The tephra can only be correlated to the 'Lower Rhyolite Tuffs' in the Pannonian Basin (Hungary), indicating a (Late) Eggenburgian/Early Ottnangian age. The new species Ternstroemites waltheri is described. Distylium fergusonii Knobloch and Kvacek and Laurophyllum rugatum Kvacek and Buzek are first reports from Austria.