The collapse of the Carboniferous to early Permian ice sheet in the southern hemisphere provided opportunities for plants to colonize high southern latitudes. Glossopteris forests extended within ten degrees of the South pole and were the major component of mire communities. Extensive coal deposits formed at this time and are a major economic resource in Australia, southern Africa and India today. The nature of the coal-forming environment and ecological processes in these unique forest ecosystems is still poorly understood. Petrified peat horizons from the Antarctic are providing new insights into these unique communities.
Dr John Webb, Latrobe University, Australia
Dr Andrew Drinnan, University of Melbourne, Australia