Characterization of late Campanian and Maastrichtian planktonic foraminiferal depth habitats and vital activities based on stable isotopes

Sigal Abramovich, Gerta Keller, Doris Stüben, Zsolt Berner

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Depth habitats of 56 late Cretaceous planktonic foraminiferal species from cool and warm climate modes were determined based on stable isotope analyses of deep-sea samples from the equatorial Pacific DSDP Sites 577A and 463, and South Atlantic DSDP Site 525A. The following conclusions can be reached: Planoglobulina multicamerata (De Klasz) and Heterohelix rajagopalani (Govindan) occupied the deepest plankton habitats, followed by Abathomphalus mayaroensis (Bolli), Globotruncanella havanensis (Voorwijk), Gublerina cuvillieri Kikoine, and Laeviheterohelix glabrans (Cushman) also at subthermocline depth. Most keeled globotruncanids, and possibly Globigerinelliodes and Racemiguembelina species, lived at or within the thermocline layer. Heterohelix globulosa (Ehrenberg) and Rugoglobigerina, Pseudotextularia and Planoglobulina occupied the subsurface depth of the mixed layer, and Pseudoguembelina species inhabited the surface mixed layer. However, depth ranking of some species varied depending on warm or cool climate modes, and late Campanian or Maastrichtian age. For example, most keeled globotruncanids occupied similar shallow subsurface habitats as Rugoglobigerina during the warm late Campanian, but occupied the deeper thermocline layer during cool climatic intervals. Two distinct types of 'vital effect' mechanisms reflecting photosymbiosis and respiration effects can be recognized by the exceptional δ13C signals of some species. (1) Photosymbiosis is implied by the repetitive pattern of relatively enriched δ13C values of Racemiguembelina (strongest), Planoglobulina, Rosita and Rugoglobigerina species, Pseudoguembelina excolata (weakest). (2) Enriched respiration 12C products are recognized in A. mayaroensis, Gublerina acuta De Klasz, and Heterohelix planata (Cushman). Isotopic trends between samples suggest that photosymbiotic activities varied between localities or during different climate modes, and may have ceased under certain environmental conditions. The appearance of most photosymbiotic species in the late Maastrichtian suggests oligotrophic conditions associated with increased water-mass stratification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


  • Depth habitats
  • Late Cretaceous
  • Planktonic foraminifera
  • Stable isotopes
  • Vital effects


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