Biochronology and paleoclimatic implications of Middle Eocene to Oligocene planktic foraminiferal faunas

Gerta Keller

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40 Scopus citations


Planktic foraminiferal assemblages have been analyzed quantitatively in six DSDP sites in the Atlantic (Site 363), Pacific (Sites 292, 77B, 277), and Indian Ocean (Sites 219, 253) in order to determine the nature of the faunal turnover during Middle Eocene to Oligocene time. Biostratigraphic ranges of taxa and abundance distributions of dominant species are presented and illustrate striking similarities in faunal assemblages of low latitude regions in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. A high resolution biochronology, based on dominant faunal characteristics and 55 datum events, permits correlation between all three oceans with a high degree of precision. Population studies provide a view of the global impact of the paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic changes occurring during Middle Eocene to Oligocene time. Planktic foraminiferal assemblage changes indicate a general cooling trend between Middle Eocene to Oligocene time, consistent with previously published oxygen isotope data. Major faunal changes, indicating cooling episodes, occur, however, at discrete intervals: in the Middle Eocene 44-43 Ma (P13), the Middle/Late Eocene boundary 41-40 Ma ( P14 P15), the Late Eocene 39-38 Ma ( P15 P16), the Eocene/Oligocene boundary 37-36 Ma (P18), and the Late Oligocene 31-29 Ma ( P20 P21). With the exception of the E 0 boundary, faunal changes occur abruptly during short stratigraphic intervals, and are characterized by major species extinctions and first appearances. The Eocene/Oligocene boundary cooling is marked primarily by increasing abundances of cool water species. This suggests that the E 0 boundary cooling, which marks a major event in the oxygen isotope record affected planktic faunas less than during other cooling episodes. Planktic foraminiferal faunas indicate that the E 0 boundary event is part of a continued cooling trend which began during the Middle Eocene. Two hiatus intervals are recognized in low and high latitude sections at the Middle/Late Eocene boundary and in the Late Eocene ( P15 P16). These hiatuses suggest that vigorous bottom water circulation began developing in the Middle Eocene, consistent with the onset of the faunal cooling trend, and well before the development of the psychrosphere at the E 0 boundary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-486
Number of pages24
JournalMarine Micropaleontology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology


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