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Abstract

Outstandingly well-preserved benthic foraminiferal successions from upper Aptian-lower Albian sediments at Site 1049 (Leg 171, Blake Nose escarpment, western North Atlantic) provide a detailed record of the faunal turnover across Oceanic Anoxic Event lb (OAE lb). Changes in abundance, diversity and species composition reflect strong fluctuations in carbon flux and bottom-water oxygenation. Before the onset of black shale sedimentation, the originally diverse assemblages are replaced by low-diversity associations, dominated by species inferred to be opportunistic phytodetritus feeders and thriving on an enhanced carbon flux to the sea floor. The 46 cm thick laminated black shale horizon corresponding to OAE lb is virtually devoid of benthic foraminifers or contains highly impoverished assemblages, suggesting that intense eutrophication and/or strong stratification triggered near anoxia at the sea floor during black shale deposition. Above the black shale, reoccurrence of the pre-black shale fauna points to relatively rapid bottom-water reoxygenation. The benthic foraminiferal record of Leg 171 provides clear evidence that no major extinctions occurred across OAE lb, as most of the species occurring below the black shale reappear above it. In contrast to other Cretaceous anoxic events, OAE lb may have been more limited in duration or in geographical and water-depth extent, allowing recolonization from adjacent, more hospitable areas, once local conditions improved at the sea floor. Prolific radiation within the suborder Rotaliina and diversification of Textulariina with calcareous cement appear to have started in the Aptian time before OAE lb, and continued into early AIbian time to give rise to many of the modern lineages.

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