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There is a considerable controversy about whether western Amazonia was ever covered by marine waters during the Miocene [23 to 5 Ma (million years ago)]. We investigated the possible occurrence of Miocene marine incursions in the Llanos and Amazonas/Solimões basins, using sedimentological and palynological data from two sediment cores taken in eastern Colombia and northwestern Brazil together with seismic information. We observed two distinct marine intervals in the Llanos Basin, an early Miocene that lasted ~0.9 My (million years) (18.1 to 17.2 Ma) and a middle Miocene that lasted ~3.7 My (16.1 to 12.4 Ma). These two marine intervals are also seen in Amazonas/Solimões Basin (northwestern Amazonia) but were much shorter in duration, ~0.2 My (18.0 to 17.8 Ma) and ~0.4 My (14.1 to 13.7 Ma), respectively. Our results indicate that shallow marine waters covered the region at least twice during the Miocene, but the events were short-lived, rather than a continuous full-marine occupancy of Amazonian landscape over millions of years.
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