Occurrence of the earliest gigantopterid from the basal Permian of the North China Block and its bearing on evolution

Gigantopterids are a morphological group consisting of a number of enigmatic fossil plants with angiosperm‐like leaves and reticulate venation that are of uncertain systematic affinity. Gigantopterid plants were abundant and a characteristic floral element in the Late Palaeozoic Cathaysian floras. However, in China, their oldest occurrence was much later than that in North America (Artinskian) and Indonesia (Asselian to Sakmarian). Here, we document the gigantopterid Gigantonoclea cf. mira from basal Permian (Asselian) strata in the North China Block that represents the oldest unequivocal evidence for the gigantopterids. The foliage is characterized by complex venation composed of four orders, small isodiametric meshes, and intercalary subsidiary veins arising directly from the rachis, being a distinctive morphological type of leaf venation. In addition, a nonmarginal feeding trace is detected on the lamina, extending the earliest record of plant–animal interaction between gigantopterid plants and arthropods to the earliest Permian. Our new observations show that the venation characters of Gigantonoclea mira and Gigantonoclea cf. mira more closely resemble Gigantopteris dictyophylloides than other members of gigantopterids including the evolutionary Callipteridium sequence to which it was previously assigned.

Surface uplift of the Central Yunnan Plateau since the Pliocene

The Central Yunnan Plateau (CYP) is located in the southeastern end of the Sichuan‐Yunnan rhombic block. CYP is surrounded by the South China Block to the east and the Indo‐China Block to the southwest. Stratigraphy and topography research shows the relative surface uplift of the CYP since the Pliocene. However, the widely accepted model of lower crustal flow is very difficult to fully explain the surface uplift of CYP, with faults and fold structures in the brittle shallow crust. The lower crust thickening led by the lower crustal flow only contributes 34–54% (600–950 m) of the total surface uplift. The wide‐angle seismic profiles and topography analysis show that the CYP surface uplift is predominately a consequence of isostatic compensation due to surface erosion, upper‐middle crustal shortening, and lower crustal thickening. The average isostatic adjustment caused by surface erosion of CYP is about 500 m, which is about 29% of the total surface uplift (1750 m). The GPS station velocities, focal mechanisms, and seismic anisotropy show the strong decoupling relationship between upper‐middle crust and lower crust. In detail, there is a movement with southeast‐directed and clockwise rotation around the Eastern Himalayan syntaxis in the upper‐middle crust, although south‐directed flow in the lower crust. The southeast motion of the upper‐middle crust could be resolved into two portions. The eastward component of upper‐middle crust motion is obstructed by the South China Block in the east. The result is the W‐E direction shortening of upper‐middle crust, shown by the S‐N trending CYP anticlinorium. The W‐E direction shortening of upper‐middle crust contributes 17–37% (300–650 m) of the total surface uplift. In contrast, the southward component of upper‐middle crust motion, shown by the sinistral strike‐slip displacement of the Xiaojiang fault zone, could pass through the Red River fault zone into the Indo‐China Block, where the left‐lateral Dien Bien Phu Fault would be the counterpart. The contribution of upper‐middle crustal shortening in a S‐N direction is very limited. The lower crustal flow could have been playing a prominent role in the growth of the whole southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau, and the contribution from upper‐middle crustal shortening cannot be ignored in some local areas.

Sediment composition, provenance, and Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution of the Southern Po River coastal plain (Italy)

Geochemistry, sediment provenance, and the Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution of the Southern Po River coastal plain (Italy) were examined based on the geochemical analysis of 279 sediment samples from 35 cores. The Holocene succession is subdivided into four major facies associations: back‐barrier, transgressive barrier, shallow‐marine, and beach‐ridge deposits. Bulk chemical composition shows remarkable differences between facies associations, and the poly‐modal behavior in the related frequency curves suggests distinct sources of sediment. Using MgO and Ni as geochemical tracers, changes in sediment provenance were assessed with the aim to reconstruct the Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution of the area. The Po River and the Apenninic rivers represented the main sources of sediment during the early stages of transgression and highstand sea‐level conditions, whereas transgressive barrier and early shallow‐marine facies associations exhibit a clear North Adriatic river (eastern Alpine) provenance. The Holocene paleoenvironmental evolution of the study area, between about 10 ky and the present, indicates the presence of a bypass zone in front of the Po River mouth between 9 and 6 ky BP. At that time, sediment supplied by the North Adriatic rivers was transported southward by the longshore drift, bypassed the weak Po River influx and accumulated close to the Apennines. Comparison between Holocene facies associations and current back‐barrier and shallow‐marine sediments confirms that the present‐day basin circulation is similar to the one that acted during the last episode of sea‐level rise.