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Dr Alan Channing

Hot spring environments and ecosystems through time
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The McGinness Hills deposit is an excellently preserved and extremely well exposed hot spring apron complex of Pliocene age. The bulk of the outcrop at the locality comprises strongly laminated to diffusely bedded sinter apron chert. These rocks are essentially devoid of higher plant fossil, a reflection of the hostility of such environments to plants, plus the low taphonomic potential of such areas. Geothermally influenced wetland sub-environments occur at the periphery of the deposit and it is here that plant preservation can be observed. Initial microscopy work on wetland material has revealed the presence of the family Cyperaceae, genus Eleocharis. The plants are preserved in 3-D and anatomical work is underway to identify if the species present is the same as that currently found in great abundance in the active and sub-fossil geothermally influenced wetlands of Yellowstone National Park.

Map of hot spring sub-facies created by Bonny Ertel. Ertel, Bonnie, M.S. 2009. Geology. Microfacies and Morphology of a Fossil Hot Spring System, McGinnessHills, Nevada. Available as pdf. download here.