Abstract

Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 215 provides an expanded section across the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, the most complete mid-latitude sequence from a Southern Hemisphere location in the Indo-Pacific area. The events of this transition occurred during a span of about 1.2 m.y. Oxygen isotope values derived from benthic foraminiferal calcite decrease by about 1.0‰, a decrease most likely related to warming of deep ocean waters. Turnovers of benthic foraminifera accompany δ18O changes and culminate in the predominant extinction event at the end of the Paleocene Epoch. Carbon isotope ratios also shift dramatically toward lighter values near the end of the Paleocene, beginning about 0.45 m.y. after oxygen isotope values start to change. The intensity of Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation as recorded by grain sizes of eolian particles shows a large and rapid reduction beginning another 0.45 m.y. later. A significant reduction of zonal wind strength at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, until now observed only at Northern Hemisphere locations, appears to have been a global phenomenon related to decreased latitudinal thermal gradients occasioned by more effective poleward heat transport via the deep ocean.

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