Austrian Journal of Earth Sciences vol:105 issue:1 pages:179-188
Climate and Biota of the Early Paleogene edition:2012 location:Salzburg date:5-8 June 2011
Within the expanded and clay-enriched interval following the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM; ~55.8 Ma) at Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 401 (eastern North Atlantic), high abundances of well-preserved biserial planktic foraminifera such as Zeauvigerina aegyptiaca and Chiloguembelina spp. occur. The paleoecological preferences of these taxa are only poorly constrained, largely because existing records are patchy in time and space. The thin-walled Z. aegyptiaca is usually rather small (<125 μm) and thus prone to recrystallization and dissolution; stable isotopes measurements are therefore virtually non-existent. A comparative stable isotope (δ13C and δ18O) study of well-preserved specimens of Z. aegyptiaca and several planktic foraminiferal species (Morozovella subbotinae, Subbotina patagonica, Chiloguembelina wilcoxensis) enabled us to determine the preferred depth habitat and mode of life for Z. aegyptiaca. Oxygen isotope values of Z. aegyptiaca range from -1.57‰ to -2.07‰ and overlap with those of M. subbotinae indicating that their habitat is (1) definitely planktic, which has been questioned by some earlier isotopic studies, and (2) probably within the lower surface mixed layer. Carbon isotope ratios range from 0.99‰ to 1.34‰ and are distinctly lower than values for non-biserial planktic species. This may indicate isotopic disequilibrium between ambient seawater and the calcareous tests of Z. aegyptiaca, which we relate to vital effects and to its opportunistic behavior. The observed isotopic signal of Z. aegyptiaca relative to the other planktic foraminiferal species is highly similar to many other microperforate bi- and triserial planktic genera that have appeared through geological time such as Heterohelix, Guembelitria, Chiloguembelina, Streptochilus and Gallitellia and we suggest that Z. aegyptiaca shares a similar ecology and habitat. Thus, in order for the opportunistic Z. aegyptiaca to bloom during the aftermath of the PETM, we assume that at that time, the surface waters at Site 401 were influenced by increased terrestrial run-off and nutrient availability.