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Miocene equatorial and south west Pacific paleoceanography from stable isotope evidence



Miocene equatorial and south west Pacific paleoceanography from stable isotope evidence



Marine Micropaleontology 83: 215-233



Stable isotope results from seven Miocene Deep Sea Drilling Projects in the equatorial and southwest Pacific Ocean (previously correlated using carbon isotope stratigraphy) were examined, discussed, and interpreted in terms of the development of the Miocene Pacific Ocean. The most obvious features of the benthonic foraminiferal stable isotopic records are a major increase in .delta.18O (.apprx. 1.0.permill.) during the Middle Miocene, a series of long-term oscillations (2-3 My) of amplitude 0.5-0.75.permill. and a decrease in .delta.13C values (0.5-1.0.permill.) during the latest Miocene. Planktonic foraminiferal .delta.18O records show different trends for high and low latitude regions. In the equatorial Pacific, planktonic .delta.18O values actually decrease during the Miocene; in the higher southern latitudes planktonic .delta.18O values become more positive in response to cooling surface waters. The southwest Pacific probably was responding uniformly to some global or at least Pacific-wide control during the Early Miocene. In the Middle Miocene the response became more complex as the low and high latitudes began to show independent trends. The changes in the thermal (vertical and latitudinal) structure probably occurred in response to the build-up of the East Antarctic ice-sheet, intensification of bottom-water circulation, and an increase in zonal circulation in surface waters in the southern hemisphere. The changes in .delta.13C (vertical and latitudinal) gradients are due to some complex interaction of sea-level, continental hyposometry, climate, and biological processes coupled with oceanic circulation changes. A strong correlation between estimated sea-level changes and .delta.13 C values suggests that transgressions and regressions play a critical role in controlling the flux of oxidized organic C enriched in 13C, from the continental shelves and epicontinental seas to the open ocean.

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