Changes in Caribbean paleoproductivity, diversity and benthic foraminiferal test size caused by the Neogene closing of the tropical Atlantic-Pacific ocean gateway

Sreepat Jain, Florida International University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test 3 hypotheses: (a) that late Miocene to early Pliocene constriction and complete closure of the Central American Seaway (CAS), connecting tropical Atlantic and East Equatorial Pacific (EEP) oceans, caused decreased productivity in the Caribbean, due to reduced coastal upwelling and an end to the connection with high-productivity Pacific waters, (b) reduced paleoproductivity resulted in decreased diversity in the Caribbean and, (c) this decreased availability of food (reduced paleoproductivity) was responsible for larger mean test size in the three most common benthic foraminiferal species Epistominella exigua, Oridorsalis umbonatus and Globocassidulina subglobosa. ^ These are tested by applying correlation analysis to 7 groups of paleoceanographic proxies, 3 indices of diversity measures and mean test size data from the Caribbean Ocean Drilling Project Site 999, to 47 core samples for the interval between 8.3-2.5 Ma. Results are compared with published Caribbean and Pacific deep-sea records. ^ The Caribbean, between 8.3-7.9 Ma, experienced reduced current velocity and lower ventilation of bottom waters. Thereafter, until 4.2 Ma, the seasonality of phytodetritus input increased and ventilation further reduced. From 4.2-2.5 Ma, paleoproductivity decreased, current velocity reduced, ventilation improved, and the seasonality of phytodetrital input decreased dramatically. The benthic foraminiferal diversity followed the same trend as paleoproductivity. Individual correlation analysis between mean test size of benthic foraminiferal species Epistominella exigua, Oridorsalis umbonatus and Globocassidulina subglobosa and paleoceanographic proxies yielded a positive and significant relationship with paleoproductivity. However, a combined datasets of all 3 species yielded a negative and significant relationship with species abundance. ^ Thus, the study concludes that (a) the gradual closure of the CAS led Caribbean diversity and paleoproductivity to decrease abruptly at 7.9 Ma, when the nutrient-rich Pacific deep waters were cut off, and then, again with the complete closure of the seaway at 4.2 Ma, (b) diversity and paleoproductivity are positively correlated in the Caribbean and (c) that the availability of food is an overriding factor that influences mean test size; lower availability of food and decreased abundance leads to larger test size. ^

Subject Area

Paleontology

Recommended Citation

Jain, Sreepat, "Changes in Caribbean paleoproductivity, diversity and benthic foraminiferal test size caused by the Neogene closing of the tropical Atlantic-Pacific ocean gateway" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249708.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3249708

Share

COinS