Paleoclimatic analyses of middle Eocene through Oligocene planktic foraminiferal faunas

Gerta Keller

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48 Scopus citations


Quantitative faunal analyses and oxygen isotope ranking of individual planktic foraminiferal species from deep sea sequences of three oceans are used to make paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic inferences. Species grouped into surface, intermediate and deep water categories based on δ18O values provide evidence of major changes in water-mass stratification, and individual species abundances indicate low frequency cool-warm oscillations. These data suggest that relatively stable climatic phases with minor cool-warm oscillations of ∼0.5 m.y. frequency are separated by rapid cooling events during middle Eocene to early Oligocene time. Five major climatic phases are evident in the water-mass stratification between middle Eocene through Oligocene time. Phase changes occur at P14/P15, P15/P16, P20/P21 and P21/P22 Zone boundaries and are marked by major faunal turnovers, rapid cooling in the isotope record, hiatuses and changes in the eustatic sea level. A general cooling trend between middle Eocene to early late Oligocene is indicated by the successive replacement of warm middle Eocene surface water species by cooler late Eocene intermediate water species and still cooler Oligocene intermediate and deep water species. Increased water-mass stratification in the latest Eocene (P17), indicated by the coexistence of surface, intermediate and deep dwelling species groups, suggest that increased thermal gradients developed between the equator and poles nearly coincident with the development of the psychrosphere. This pattern may be related to significant ice accumulation between late Eocene and early late Oligocene time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-94
Number of pages22
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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