Beech Trees of Antarctica

Fossils of Pliocene beech trees, Nothofagus beardmorensis, found in parts of Antarctica have been used to argue that this continent was much warmer than present and, thus, located much farther south than it currently is. This claim is what is implied when the story of "WHEN ANTARCTICA WAS GREEN" was quoted below as evidence of Earth crustal displacement.
Re: Aliens created man!
Author:            PVH 
Date:              1999/10/09
Forum:             alt.prophecies.nostradamus
Posted on:         1999/10/09
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 09 Oct 1999 20:54:28 CDT

On 1999/09/28 and in <>,
C M. Palmstršm  wrote:
+On Mon, 27 Sep 1999 23:28:31 +0100, (Doug Weller) wrote:
++In article <,
++on Mon, 27 Sep 1999 21:15:13 GMT,
++christer@palmstrom.nuNOSPAM said...

(... material omitted ????)

++++There are some articles linked to my web site (url
++++in sig) showing that this is not just impossible, but
++++that the temperature in Antarctica for the past few
++++million years was hardly conducive to civilization!
+++ LMAO, And you have, missed... nothing....  as usual!
+++ Please, Is this guy for real!??
++Oh I'm real. I've got my doubts about you.  Or at least
++in your interest in reality.

[... stuff about the fossil forests of Axel Heiberg Island omitted ...]

... material omitted ...

+Webb's group postulates that a shrub-like forest grew in
+Antarctica as recently as 3 million years ago. The dating,
+of course, is critical, and is certain to be subjected to
+careful scientific scrutiny.  Nevertheless, these deposits
+of fresh-looking wood do suggest that trees recently grew
+only 400 miles from the South Pole.

This is the same tired, chestnut that Flem-Ath and other
proponents of Earth Crustal Displacement / Pole Shifts keep
mindlessly repeating.  These proponents always fail to
include the most recent research on the Antarctic beech
trees in their discussions.  For example, at , Mr. Flem-Ath states:


  One critic of the documentary MYSTERIOUS ORIGINS OF MAN
  has written:   "If he [Rand] had taken the time to do
  any real literature review at he would have found that
  the beech trees are at least, three million years old,
  if not older."

  We know perfectly well that the Antarctic beech trees
  are from two to three million years old.  The point
  that was being made was that plate tectonics, as a
  theory, was incapable of explaining the existence of
  this forest so close to  the South Pole a mere two to
  three million years ago.  This is not to say that
  plate tectonics is wrong: it is simply insufficient
  on its own to account for these facts. At the slow
  pace of change demanded by plate tectonics the beech
  trees would have to be many millions (not just 2 or 3
  million) of years old to be 200 miles from the South
  Pole.  In other words, to account for the beech forest
  on Antarctica we need another whole Earth theory to
  explain the facts."

If Mr. Flem-Ath was to read Francis and Hill (1996), he
would find that there is really nothing that needs to be
explained about these beech trees.  Francis and Hill (1996)

    "Fossil leaves of Nothofagus beardmorensis and
  wood from the Sirius Group belong to a dwarf shrubs
  which had a prostrate habit and spread out close to the
  group.  Very small growth rings reflect slow rates of
  growth under harsh conditions.  The stems record that
  the trees were subject to many disturbances, possibly
  glacial outwash events, which had a traumatic effect
  on wood formation.
      Comparison with shrubs of similar habit growing at
  equivalent high latitudes in the arctic suggest that
  climates in the Beardmore Glacier region of Antarctica
  during the deposition of the Meyer Desert Formation were
  similar to conditions in the Arctic today.  The mean annual
  temperatures were probably well below freezing, in the
  range of -12 degrees C, and previous estimates of mean
  annual temperatures of +5 degree C were far too high."

(Note: I spelled out the degree symbol in the above quoted

In plain English, Francis and Hill (1996) demonstrate that
the Pliocene beech trees were growing under polar /
subpolar conditions.  Given that during this part of the
Pliocene the Earth was much warmer worldwide than it is
today, there is absolutely no need to invoke either plate
tectonics or Earth Crustal shift to explain the presence
of these beech trees in Antarctica.

On the same web page, Mr. Flem-Ath continues:

  "Earth crust displacement is a complementary whole
  earth theory to plate tectonics that can account for
  these facts. We are not disputing the power of the
  plate tectonic theory:  we are simply adding another
  set of lens with which the past might be viewed."

Mr. Flem-Ath is very wrong here.  There is no need to
invoke Earth crustal shift, as according to Francis and
Hill (1996), the beech trees which have been found in
the Pliocene strata of Antarctica are indicative of polar
conditions not much warmer then can now be found in parts
of Antarctica.  Also, overlooked is the fact that this
part of the Pliocene Epoch was much warmer than present.
Global climatic change would be sufficient to explain
any slight warming that might be needed to explained
these beech trees.  As far as the beech trees are
concerned, Earth Crust Shift is totally unneeded.  It
is a theory in search of something to explain.

Reference Cited:

Francis, J, E., and Hill, R. S., 1996, Fossil plants from
the Pliocene Sirius Group, Transantarctic Mountains:
evidence for climate from growth rings and fossil leaves.
Palios. v. 11, no. 4, 389-396.

Some articles that discuss the beech trees and the
paleoclimatology of Antarctica during the Pliocene are:

1. Molly F. Miller and Mabin, Mark C. G. 1998, Antarctic
Neogene Landscapes--In the Refrigerator or in the Deep
Freeze? GSA Today. vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1-3.

2. Stroeven, A. P., Burckle, L. H., Kleman, J., and
Prentice, M. L., 1998 Atmospheric Transport of Diatoms
in the Antarctic Sirius Group: Pliocene Deep Freeze
GSA Today. vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1, 4-5

3. Harwood, D. M., Webb, P. M., 1998. Glacial
Transport of Diatoms in the Antarctic Sirius Group:
Pliocene Refrigerator. GSA Today. vol. 8, no. 4,
pp. 1, 4-8.

4. Miller, M. F., and Mabin, M. C. G., 1998, Summary.
GSA Today. vol. 8, no. 4, p. 8.

Articles 1 through 4 above can be *uploaded* from:

5. Kennett, J. P., and Hodell, D. A., 1995, Stability or
Instability of Antarctic Ice Sheets During Warm Climates
of the Pliocene?  GSA Today. vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1, 10-13, 22.

This article can be *uploaded* from:

Notice that the argument is over whether Antarctica
was a deep freeze or a refrigerator.  Antarctica was
still very, very cold.  There is nothing that requires
Earth Crustal Shift or Displacement to explain as the
above citations clearly demonstrate.

(NOTE: the catastrophist lurkers can find references to
one heck of a meteorite impact in the above papers.  It
occurred in the South Pacific and might have blown
impact ejecta onto Antarctica)

Other URLS:

Pliocene Fossil Plants from the Transantarctic Mountains:
Evidence for Climate from Growth Rings and Fossil Leaves

+Also of interest is the fact that the sedimentary layers
+containing the wood have been displaced as much as 3000
+meters by faults, indicating recent large-scale geological
+(Weisburd, S.; "A Forest Grows in Antarctica," Science
+News, 129:148, 1986.)

First, Mr. Christer needs to correct a typographic error
in his summary of the text.  According to Weisburd (1986),
the article dose not state, "...displaced by as much as
3000 meters by faults, ..."  What Weisburd (1986:148)
actually states is:

  "The researchers discovered that the deposits containing
  the wood fossils are sliced by faults, which displace
  sediment layers by as much as 1,000 meters."

Thus, Mr. Christer has made an error in stating 3,000
meters instead of 1,000 meters of displacement.

Also, as summarized by Stern and ten Blink (1989),
neither Webb nor any other researcher have observed that
the 1,000 meters of displacement occurs on any one fault.
Rather, Dr. Webb and others are talking about a 1,000
meters of overall regional uplift of the Transantarctic
Mountains with typically less than 10 meters of
displacement along any one fault.

Finally, such uplift is not at all unusual for a
tectonically active mountain range.  It certainly fails
to require any supernatural or miraculous explanations
as Stern and ten Blink (1989) document in detail.

Referring to the faulting, Weisburd (1986:148) states:

  "This indicates that Transantarctic Mountains have risen
  very rapidly in the last few million years.  Previously,
  scientists had assumed that they had risen slowly over
  a 40-million year period."

References Cited:

Weisburd, S., A Forest Grows in Antarctica. Science News.
vol. 129, p. 148.

Stern, T. A. and U. S. ten Blink, 1989, Flexural uplift
of the Transantarctic Mountains. Journal of Geophysical
Research. vol. 94(B8), no. 10, pp. 315-330.

[... signature and irrelevant stuff omitted ...]

Return to Wildside Index Page.
Return to Home Page.
Version 4.0
Dec 14, 2001

Copyright © 1996-2001 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.