(Image: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay)

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 <37f08cf3.5570105@news.utfors.se>,
C M. Palmstršm wrote:
+On Mon, 27 Sep 1999 23:28:31 +0100,
+dweller@ramtops.demon.co.uk (Doug Weller) wrote:
++In article <380adc14.43439387@news.utfors.se+,
++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. Here, for example, 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) conclude:

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 text.)

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.

References 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.

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.

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 here.

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 here.

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
+changes. +
+(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 does 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 …]

Version 4.0
Dec 14, 2001

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