Applications of Calcareous Nannofossils and Stable Isotopes to Cenozoic Paleoceanography: Examples from the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, Western Equatorial Atlantic and Southern Indian Oceans
Jiang, Shijun, 1971- (author)
Wise, Sherwood W. (professor directing dissertation)
Iverson, Richard L. (outside committee member)
Arnold, Anthony J. (committee member)
Donoghue, Joseph F. (committee member)
Wang, Yang (committee member)
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
This dissertation is a collection of five calcareous nannofossil and one stable isotope studies on materials from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Legs 183 (Site 1135), 206 (Site 1256), and 207 (Site 1259) that target two important paleoceanographic events: 1) the middle/late Miocene carbonate crash, and 2) the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Site 1256 nannofossil biostratigraphy in Chapter 1 refined the author's shore-based shipboard Quaternary-middle-Miocene nannofossil biostratigraphy with 16 zones/combined zones recognized based on 28 nannofossil datums. This chapter provides a chronologic framework for the age calibration of the first occurrence (7.18 Ma) and last occurrence (6.32 Ma) of Reticulofenestra rotaria, calculation of linear sedimentation rates, age determination of basalt basement (~14.5 Ma), and the recognition of the "carbonate crash" paleoceanographic event at the middle/late Miocene boundary. Reworked nannofossils and lithologic changes also allow a reading of a three-episode redepositional history (4.7, 8.3, and 10.7 Ma, respectively) in the eastern Pacific. The detailed examination of the Site 1256 material also yielded well-preserved Discoaster stellulus, for which only the distal view had been depicted in the original description. In Chapter 2, a redescription and re-illustration of both sides of this asterolith is provided. This should prevent misidentification of specimens in proximal view, thereby raising its potential application for middle-late Miocene biostratigraphy. Based on the above age model, in Chapter 3 stable oxygen and carbon isotopes were used for the first time to explore the late/middle Miocene "carbonate crash". This carbonate transition is a widespread (eastern and central equatorial Pacific, Indian, South Atlantic, and the Caribbean), sharp decrease in carbonate mass-accumulation rates, which has previously been considered only a dissolution event. The positive correlation (R2 = 0.75) between d13C and CaCO3 mass accumulation rates during 5-14 Ma at ODP Site 1256 clearly demonstrates that carbonate accumulation is mainly biologically controlled. The coincidence of the carbonate crash with negative excursions in d13C and d18O values suggests a causative mechanism related to surface-water productivity, as a result of surface-water warming and reduced upwelling. Based on these observations, one could speculate that the major middle/late Miocene sea-level drop may have caused the complete closure of the Indonesian Seaway, resulting in a piling-up of surface warm water in the west Pacific. The eastward spread of this nutrient-poor water then would have warmed sea-surface temperatures and reduced upwelling in the central and eastern Pacific, thereby creating a prolonged "El Nino" scenario and reducing biological productivity of phytoplankton. The reduction in carbonate supply to the deep waters consequently caused a rapid shoaling of the carbonate compensation depth, thereby triggering the carbonate crash. The PETM was a catastrophic, rapid greenhouse-forced global warming event ~55 m.y. ago that triggered an abrupt turnover in ocean chemistry and circulation as well as biota. Chapter 4 represents a quantitative study of the response of nannoplankton to the PETM at Demerara Rise, equatorial Atlantic (Site 1259). Toweius, Fasciculithus, and Chiasmolithus sharply decrease at the onset of the PETM, whereas Chiasmolithus, Markalius cf. M. apertus, and Neochiasmolithus thrive immediately after the event, which also signals the successive first appearances of Discoaster araneus, Rhomboaster, and Tribrachiatus. Two main environmental factors were extracted by correspondence analysis of relative abundance data. The time series of the two factors shows that during the PETM, 1) environmental stress (most likely from changes in seawater pH) increased and may well have also induced the evolution of ephemeral nannofossil "excursion taxa"; and 2) surface-water productivity increased at this site presumably due to higher runoff from continental areas. The local phytoplankton opportunist, Markalius cf. M. apertus, is described as a new species in Chapter 5, which will be published under the name Coccolithus bownii. Results presented in Chapter 6 from Site 1135 on the Kerguelen Plateau, Southern Ocean suggest that nannoplankton responded differently to the PETM at southern high latitudes. The onset of the carbon isotope excursion occurs within an 18-cm interval (instead of 1-2 cm as observed in most deep-sea sections) before the peak is reached, displaying a linear mixing curve. This indicates that the release of light carbon was a gradual, single injection, instead of multiple pulses as suggested in previous work, and that this sequence is highly expanded as a result of high sedimentation rates at this relatively shallow oceanic site. This is evidenced by the high numbers of dissolution-susceptible holococcoliths (Zygrhablithus bijugatus) preserved throughout the sequence. Although r- and K-selected specialists exponentially increase in abundance at the onset, Chiasmolithus abruptly drops but then rapidly recovers, whereas Discoaster and Fasciculithus show opposite trends, indicating that in high latitudes, surface-water oligotrophy prevailed at the carbon isotope excursion (CIE) onset but mesotrophic conditions dominated the CIE recovery. These observations confirm previous results from ODP Site 690 on Maud Rise. The intensive dissolution of susceptible holococcoliths and the poor preservation of the assemblages are believed to have been caused by the effects of corrosion caused by the methane release. The different responses of nannoplankton to the PETM and the contrasts evident in previous work from the open ocean vs the continental margins further demonstrate that the response to the PETM can be influenced by local differences in geologic setting and oceanographic conditions.
Paleoceanography, Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum, Middle/Late Miocene Carbonate Crash, Productivity, Stable Isotopes, Calcareous Nannofossils
July 13, 2007.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Geological Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Sherwood W. Wise, Jr., Professor Directing Dissertation; Richard L. Iverson, Outside Committee Member; Anthony J. Arnold, Committee Member; Joseph F. Donoghue, Committee Member; Yang Wang, Committee Member.
Florida State University