North Atlantic Late Miocene Stable-Isotope Stratigraphy, Biostratigraphy, and Magnetostratigraphy

Keigwin, L. D.; Aubry, Marie-Pierre; Kent, Dennis V.

Upper Miocene foraminiferal nannofossil ooze and chalk from DSDP Hole 552A in the northeast Atlantic Ocean have been closely sampled for biostratigraphic, paleomagnetic, and stable-isotopic studies. Sampling at 10-cm intervals resulted in an uppermost Miocene isotope stratigraphy with a 1000- to 3000-yr. resolution. Covariance in benthic (Planulina wuellerstorfi) and planktonic (Globigerina bulloides) foraminiferal δ^O¸ records is taken as evidence for variability in continental ice volume. Our best estimate is that glacial maxima occurred at ~ 5.0 and ~ 5.5 Ma and lasted no more than 20,000 yrs. These events probably lowered sea level by 60 m below the latest Miocene average. There is little oxygen-isotope evidence, however, for a prolonged glaciation during the last 2 m.y. of the late Miocene. High- and low-frequency variability in the δ^13C record of foraminifers is useful for correlation among North Atlantic DSDP Sites 408, 410, 522, 610, and 611, and for correlation with sites in other oceans. Similar δ^13C changes are seen in P. wuellerstorfi and G. bulloides, but the amplitude of the signal is always greater in G. bulloides. Variability in δ^13C common to both species probably reflects variability in the δ^13C of total CO2 in seawater. Major long-term features in the δ^13C record include a latest Miocene maximum (P. wuellerstorfi = 1.5‰) in paleomagnetic Chron 7, an abrupt decrease in δ^13C at -6.2 Ma, and a slight increase at -5.5 Ma. The decrease in δ^13C at -6.2 Ma, which has been paleomagnetically dated only twice before, occurs in the upper reversed part of Chronozone 6 at Holes 552A and 611C, in excellent agreement with earlier studies. Cycles in δ^13C with a period of ~ 104 yrs. are interpreted as changes in seawater chemistry, which may have resulted from orbitally induced variability in continental biomass. Samples of P. wuellerstorfi younger than 6 Ma from throughout the North Atlantic have δ^13C near 1‰, on average ~ 1‰ greater than samples of the same age in the Pacific Ocean. Thus, there is no evidence for cessation of North Atlantic Deep Water production resulting from the Messinian "salinity crisis." Biostratigraphic results indicate continuous sedimentation during the late Miocene after about -6.5 Ma at Hole 552A. Nannofossil biostratigraphy is complicated by the scarcity of low-latitude marker species, but middle and late Miocene Zones NN7 through NN11 are recognized. A hiatus is present at -6.5 Ma, on the basis of simultaneous first occurrences of Amaurolithusprimus, Amaurolithus delicatus, Amaurolithus amplificus, and Scyphosphaera globulata. The frequency and duration of older hiatuses increase downsection in Hole 552A, as suggested by calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy. Paleomagnetic results at Hole 552A indicate a systematic pattern of inclination changes. Chronozone 6 was readily identified because of its characteristic nannoflora (sequential occurrences of species assigned to the genus Amaurolithus) and the δ^13C decrease in foraminifers, but its lower reversed interval is condensed. Only the lower normal interval of Chronozone 5 was recognized at Hole 552A; the upper normal interval and the lowest Gilbert sediment are not recognized, owing to low intensity of magnetization and to coring disturbance. Interpreting magnetic reversals below Chronozone 6 was difficult because of hiatuses, but a lower normally magnetized interval is probably Chronozone 7. Correlation between DSDP Hole 552A and other North Atlantic sites is demonstrated using coiling direction changes in the planktonic foraminifer Neogloboquadrina. At most sites this genus changed its coiling preference from dominantly right to dominantly left during the late Miocene. At Hole 552A this event probably occurred about 7 m.y. ago. At the same time, P. wuellerstorfi had maximum δ^13C values. A similar δ^13C maximum and coiling change occurred together in Chron 7 at Hole 611C, and at Hole 610E. In sediment younger than -5.5 Ma, the coiling of small Neogloboquadrina species is random, but the larger species N. atlantica retains preferential left coiling.

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Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project

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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
September 7, 2011