A florule from the base of the Hell Creek Formation in the type area of eastern Montana: Implications for vegetation and climate

Nan Crystal Arens, Sarah E. Allen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Scopus citations


The Hell Creek Formation in eastern Montana has yielded well-preserved leaf megafossil localities that provide insight into the vegetation and climate of the latest Cretaceous. Among the most basal, the PDM locality (UCMP [University of California Museum of Paleontology] PB99057 = MOR [Museum of the Rockies] HC-278) occurs in channel sandstones ∼10 m above the underlying Fox Hills Formation. The locality represents a fluvial/estuarine environment. Leaf megafossil impressions were preserved on clay drapes within the channel. Angiosperms dominated the flora (13 of 17 morphotypes). Dryophyllum subfalcatum and "Vitis" stantoni, two common morphospecies in the Hell Creek Formation, are well represented. Gymnosperms including Metasequoia, Glyptostrobus, Cupressinocladus, and Ginkgo are rare; ferns and cycadophytes are absent. Univariate leaf-margin analysis produced mean annual temperature (MAT) estimates of ∼7-11 °C (5-14 °C including overlapping estimation errors). The Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program (CLAMP) produced a MAT value of 11-12 °C ± 2 °C. Leaf area analysis produced mean annual precipitation (MAP) estimates of 197 cm (+152/-86 cm) and 191 cm (+161/-87 cm), while CLAMP produced a growing season precipitation estimate of 82-90 ± 48 cm. The wetter MAP values are consistent with paleosols near the base of the formation, which lack paleosol carbonate. CLAMP results further suggest seasonality in both temperature and precipitation. Some PDM morphotypes are familiar from the Hell Creek I floral zone of North Dakota, and several are not, suggesting greater spatial and/or temporal heterogeneity in the Hell Creek Formation flora than has been previously appreciated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThrough the End of the Cretaceous in the Type Locality of the Hell Creek Formation in Montana and Adjacent Areas
EditorsGregory Wilson, William Clemens, John Horner, Joseph Hartman
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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