Abstract

An outer shelf–upper slope tropical Tethyan pelagic environment existed over southern Israel during Maastrichtian time. Planktic foraminifera in the >63 and >149 µm size fractions from four sections in this area were studied quantitatively for a high-resolution ecostratigraphic analysis of the pre–Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) paleoenvironment. During the Maastrichtian, 41% of the planktic foraminifera species became extinct, mostly keeled Globotruncanidae, which also became quantitatively reduced near the end of the Maastrichtian from as much as 35% to only 5% of the planktic foraminifera population. Evolutionary replacement of extinct species by new forms nearly ceased in that interval. Two major opportunistic blooms of Guembelitria took place, associated with reduced abundances of keeled forms and the dominant species Heterohelix globulosa. The first bloom occurred within the upper Gansserina gansseri to lower Abathomphalus mayaroensis Zones and the second within the Plummerita hantkeninoides Zone. The extinctions, concomitant changes in faunal dominance, and opportunist blooms indicate that the pelagic ecosystem in the Negev area experienced multiple stresses during the Maastrichtian. The planktic foraminiferal assemblages were taxonomically impoverished and in decline prior to the K-T boundary crisis.

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