Fire in a Weichselia-dominated coastal ecosystem from the Lower Cretaceous (Barremian) of the Kurnub Group in NW Jordan
Abu Hamad et al
Large intervals of the Cretaceous are considered as a ‘high-fire’ period in Earth's history. However, so far most studies dealing in greater detail with the fossil evidence of palaeo-wildfires, i.e. fossil charcoal, originate from the northern hemisphere (i.e. North America, Europe, Asia) whereas there are large stratigraphic and geographic gaps on the Cretaceous southern continents. The present paper deals with the fossil contents (plant macro-remains, palynomorphs and charcoal) of a lignite lens from the lower part of the Lower Cretaceous Kurnub Group near King Talal Dam in Jordan. The data provide evidence for the repeated occurrence of palaeo-wildfires in coastal ecosystems on the northern margin of Gondwana during the Barremian. The fossil content of the lens indicates that the vegetation, which was repeatedly affected by fire, has been dominated by the matoniaceous tree fern Weichselia reticulata. Palynological data from the lignite, as well as the repeated occurrence of wildfires point to an at least seasonally dry (or at least less humid) climate during deposition of the lignite.