Geological exploration of Cockburn Island, Antarctic Peninsula

Jeffrey D. Stilwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Cockburn Island is one of the most historically significant places on the Antarctic continent. The isle was first surveyed in early 1843 during Captain James Ross' famous expedition, but the early explorers failed to recognise its geological and palaeontological significance. Cockburn Island is exceptional for it has the only succession of Upper Cretaceous, Eocene and Miocene-Pliocene rocks on the continent, which is now known to contain an admirable and diverse fossil record of fauna and flora. These fossil assemblages are providing exciting new information on the evolutionary history of Antarctica. At least 22 species of Late Cretaceous macroinvertebrates and vertebrates have been recognised, whereas the Eocene record is slightly more diverse at 28 macroinvertebrate taxa recorded. The Pliocene macrofossil record is depauperate at some 11 species, but microfossils (diatoms, ostracods, foraminifera) are represented by at least 94 taxa. The palaeoecologic and palaeobiogeographic significance of fossil assemblages is explored in this paper. Further, a checklist of fossils is presented herein, for the first time, as is a bibliography of the geology and palaeontology of the island.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-73
Number of pages27
JournalPolish Polar Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Antarctica
  • Bibliography
  • Cockburn Island
  • Geology
  • History
  • Palaeontology

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