Deep-sea benthonic foraminiferal faunal turnover near the Eocene/Oligocene boundary

Journal Article

Eocene-Oligocene deep-sea benthonic foraminifera in D.S.D.P. Site 277 in the southwest Pacific have been analyzed to determine the benthonic foraminiferal response to the development of the psychrosphere near the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. Biostratigraphic ranges of 41 taxa show that 23 taxa are found throughout the Late Eocene to Early Oligocene sequence, while 18 taxa exhibit first or last occurrences. Comparison of the faunal changes in Site 277 with a benthonic foraminiferal oxygen isotope record shows that the development of the psychrosphere did not have a profound effect upon the benthonic foraminifera, and the overall faunal change preceding and subsequent to the bottom-water circulation event occurred gradually. The inferred water-mass event affected the relative abundance of one species, Epistominella umbonifera. The lack of major faunal changes at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary in Site 277 probably reflects either wide environmental tolerances of the benthonic foraminifera, or a bottom-water temperature change less than 3°C. Examination of previously published benthonic foraminiferal biostratigraphic data from D.S.D.P. Sites 167, 171, 357, 360, 363, and 400A, and deep-sea ostracode data from D.S.D.P. Leg 3 show faunal changes occurred during discrete intervals in the Middle Eocene-Early Oligocene. The faunal patterns from these data and from Site 277 show that the Eocene/Oligocene cooling event did not cause rapid, catastrophic changes of the benthonic faunas of the open ocean, although significant faunal changes are associated with the water mass event in Sites 167, 171 and 400A. The benthonic faunal changes in Middle Eocene-Early Oligocene time are consistent with the gradual decrease of inferred bottom-water temperatures, based on previously published oxygen isotopic data. The δ 18O Eocene/Oligocene enrichment of 0.76‰ is a major event in the Southern Ocean oxygen isotopic record, but is considerably less in magnitude than the 1.75-2.00‰ change that occurred gradually from mid-Early Eocene to the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. The benthonic foraminiferal and isotopic data indicate that bottom-water circulation may have developed during the Middle Eocene to Early Oligocene interval, with the 3°C bottom-water cooling near the Eocene/Oligocene boundary representing part of this development. © 1981.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Corliss, BH

Published Date

  • 1981

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 367 - 384

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0377-8398