Fifty radiolarian events of early Pleistocene and Neogene age were identified in an E-W transect of equatorial DSDP sites, extending from the Gulf of Panama to the western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans. Our objective was to document the degree of synchroneity or time-transgressiveness of stratigraphically-useful datum levels from this geologic time interval. We restricted our study to low latitudes within which morphological variations of individual taxa are minimal, the total assemblage diversity remains high, and stratigraphic continuity is well-documented by an independent set of criteria. Each of the five sites chosen (503, 573, 289/586, 214) was calibrated to an "absolute" time scale, using a multiple of planktonic foraminiferal, nannofossil, and diatom datum levels which have been independently correlated to the paleomagnetic polarity time scale in piston core material. With these correlations we have assigned "absolute" ages to each radiolarian event, with a precision of 0.1-0.2 m.y. and an accuracy of 0.2-0.4 m.y. On this basis we have classified each of the events as either: (a) synchronous (range of ages 1.0 m.y.); and (c) not resolvable (range of ages 0.4-1.0 m.y.). Our results show that, among the synchronous datum levels, a large majority (15 out of 19) are last occurrences. Among those events which are clearly time-transgressive, most are first appearances (10 out of 13). In many instances taxa appear to evolve first in the Indian Ocean, and subsequently in the western and eastern Pacific Ocean. This pattern is particularly unexpected in view of the strong east-to-west zonal flow in equatorial latitudes. Three of the time-transgressive events have been used to define zonal boundaries: the first appearances of Spongaster pentas, Diartus hughesi, and D. petterssoni. Our results suggest that biostratigraphic non-synchroneity may be substantial (i.e., greater than 1 m.y.) within a given latitudinal zone; one would expect this effect to be even more pronounced across oceanographic and climatic gradients. We anticipate that the extent of diachroneity may be comparable for diatom, foraminiferal, and nannofossil datum levels as well. If this proves true, global "time scales" may need to be re-formulated on the basis of a smaller number of demonstrably synchronous events. © 1985.
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