Pre-Cenozoic Palynology and Continental Movements

  1. M.W. McEIhinny and
  2. D.A. Valencio
  1. Elizabeth M. Truswell

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GD002p0013

Paleoreconstruction of the Continents

Paleoreconstruction of the Continents

How to Cite

Truswell, E. M. (1981) Pre-Cenozoic Palynology and Continental Movements, in Paleoreconstruction of the Continents (eds M.W. McEIhinny and D.A. Valencio), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GD002p0013

Author Information

  1. Bureau of Mineral Resources, PO Box 378, Canberra, A.C.T. 2601, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1981

Book Series:

  1. Geodynamics Series

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875905112

Online ISBN: 9781118670217



  • Continental movements;
  • Cretaceous;
  • Devonian;
  • Jurassic;
  • Palaeozoic seas;
  • Permian;
  • Pre-cenozoic palynology;
  • Retispora lepidophyta


Palynological contributions to the study of past continental positions include the recognition of phytogeographic provinces, the establishment of a biostratigraphic timescale against which continental motion can be measured, and the identification of particular environments associated with phases in rifting history.

In the Early Palaeozoic, the most prominent example of the relationship between palynomorph distribution and palaeogeography is afforded by Silurian acritarch distributions: the arrangement of these into linear, latitudinal belts that are time-transgressive has permitted estimates of the motion of Pangaea. For terrestrial floras, there is palynological evidence for palaeolatitudinal control of plant provinces in the Devonian. In the Carboniferous, there is a discrepancy between provinces based on palynofloral and plant megafloral data. Pronounced provinciality in the latest Palaeozoic is shown in parallel microfossil and megafossil provinces. Palynomorph distributions in glacial sediments do not support the concept of the migration of glacial centres across Gondwanaland. Palynological data alone have been used to suggest an equatorial, position for southeast Asia in the Permian.

In the Mesozoic, provinciality of floras was less pronounced than in the Palaeozoic. The growth of relatively luxuriant floras at high latitude, near-polar localities remains a major problem. Cretaceous palynological studies have considerably influenced theories of the origin and early radiation of angiosperms: there is some evidence for poleward migration from an equatorial source. The Cretaceous saw a resurgence of provincialism as evinced by angiosperm pollen suites. This probably coincided with the fragmentation of Gondwanaland and with a phase of transgression; shallow seas in the Late Cretaceous formed effective provincial barriers.