Article: A Middle Jurassic fossil forest from New Zealand
A Middle Jurassic fossil forest, thought to have been growing at high southern palaeolatitudes on the Gondwana margin, is described from New Zealand. Fossil stump horizons are exposed in stratigraphic section within the Urawitiki Measures Formation, Murihiku Supergroup. Tree bases were preserved by silica permineralisation in a sandy braided river setting. Fossil wood is referred to 'abietinean-type' and Agathoxylon. A total of 238 stumps were mapped with measured diameters allowing tree height estimates of 9-40 m. A two-dimensional area (102 m2) allows an interpretation of tree density (2353 trees/ha), biomass (579 t/ha) and stand basal area (146 m2). This horizon is interpreted as a highly productive, young, dense tree stand probably actively regenerating on a flood-cleared surface. Annual growth rings suggest a clearly defined growing season with a rapid onset of favourable temperature, light and water supply conditions at the start and a similarly rapid deterioration at the end. Mean ring width is 1.10 mm and the maximum 9.67 mm. Mean Sensitivity values suggest both 'complacent' and 'sensitive' growth patterns. Broad palaeoclimate interpretations suggest a humid, warm regional climate throughout the growing season.