Exploring the paleoceanographic changes registered by planktonic foraminifera across the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval and Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 at southern high latitudes in the Mentelle Basin (SE Indian Ocean)

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Planktonic foraminiferal population dynamics and benthic foraminiferal and radiolaria distributions combined with δ13C and δ18O measurements of both bulk carbonate and foraminifera provide clues concerning the paleoceanographic changes across the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval and the Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE 2) at southern high latitudes. Samples analyzed are from Integrated Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 369 Site U1516 in the Mentelle Basin (eastern flank of the Naturaliste Plateau, Indian Ocean, SW Australia). Site U1516 was located at 60°–62°S paleolatitude during the mid-Cretaceous, and it is the first high latitude locality in the Southern Hemisphere where planktonic foraminifera are consistently recorded across the OAE 2 interval and its associated positive δ13C excursion. The sedimentary record at Site U1516 consists of a sequence of alternating black, dark greenish gray, and light greenish gray claystone in the Cenomanian that grade to white and light gray calcareous chalk interbedded with chert in the Turonian. The correlation between the δ13C and δ18O profiles at Site U1516 and the European reference section at Eastbourne (England) coupled with the integrated calcareous plankton biostratigraphy and stable isotopic data at Site U1516, indicate that a complete record of OAE 2 at Site U1516 was recovered. Below and in the lower part of OAE 2, the planktonic foraminiferal assemblages are dominated by small-sized (125–38 μm) opportunistic species of Microhedbergella and radiolaria indicating a dominantly eutrophic regime. Above the onset of OAE 2, a trough in the δ13C profile (Plenus Carbon Isotope Event: P-CIE) coinciding with a δ18O increase may correspond to the Plenus Cold Event as observed at low latitudes, although no evidence of cooling is registered in the microfossil assemblages. At Site U1516, the middle part of OAE 2 at the initiation of the plateau phase of the δ13C profile is masked by absence of carbonate, by the highest TOC values, and high biogenic silica (dominance of radiolaria) indicating this interval corresponded to a time of highly stressed eutrophic conditions with possible shoaling of the Carbonate Compensation Depth (CCD). Above this interval, bulk isotopic results yield lower δ13C values, and the CaCO3 increases are associated with the presence of even smaller-sized Microhedbergella showing cyclic fluctuations in absolute abundances with benthic foraminifera indicating dominantly eutrophic conditions likely affected by upwelling of nutrient-rich and δ13C-depleted intermediate water masses. Toward the top of OAE 2 and across the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval, the planktonic foraminiferal assemblages show changes in composition (e.g., Microhedbergella is replaced by Muricohedbergella), species occupying relatively deep ecological niches appear and an overall increase in diversity is observed. These features coupled with the foraminiferal species-specific δ13C and δ18O patterns reveal that Site U1516 occupied a paleoceanographic setting still affected by eutrophy likely related to enhanced input of nutrients but with episodes of stability with ecological/thermal separation in the surface waters. This interval also records the highest sea surface water paleotemperatures values estimated as 20°–23°C based on δ18O values of foraminiferal test and assuming seawater δ18O values of −1‰V-SMOW. Mesotrophic to oligotrophic conditions persisted after the OAE 2 and throughout the Turonian as evidenced by a diverse planktonic foraminiferal assemblage with different species occupying separate ecological niches in the mixed layer and thermocline.




Petrizzo, M. R., Watkins, D. K., MacLeod, K. G., Hasegawa, T., Huber, B. T., Batenburg, S. J., & Kato, T. (2021). Exploring the paleoceanographic changes registered by planktonic foraminifera across the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval and Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 at southern high latitudes in the Mentelle Basin (SE Indian Ocean). Global and Planetary Change, 206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2021.103595

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