The palaeoenvironment of the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian-Turonian) portion of the Winton Formation, Queensland, Australia
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The Winton Formation is increasingly recognised as an important source of information about the Cretaceous of Australia, and, more broadly, the palaeobiogeographic history of eastern Gondwana. With more precise dating and stratigraphic controls starting to provide temporal context to the geological and palaeontological understanding of this formation, it is timely to reassess the palaeoenvironment in which it was deposited. This new understanding helps to further differentiate the upper, most-studied portion of the formation (Cenomanian-Turonian) from the lower portions (Albian-Cenomanian), allowing a coherent picture of the ecosystem to emerge. Temperatures during the deposition of the Upper Cretaceous portion of the Winton Formation were warm, with high, seasonal rainfall, but not as extreme as the modern monsoon. The landscape was heterogeneous, a freshwater alluvial plain bestrode by low energy, meandering rivers, minor lakes and mires. Infrequent, scouring flood events were part of a multi-year cycle of drier and wetter years. The heavily vegetated flood plains supported abundant large herbivores. This was the final infilling of the great Eromanga Basin.