During the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO, 14.7–17.3 Ma), global temperatures were warmer than present, and similar to predicted temperatures for the coming century. Limited paleoclimate data exist from the tropics during this period, despite its potential as an analog for future climate conditions. This study presents new subannual stable isotope data (δ18O and δ13C) from a large population of Miocene Turritella gastropods from the Jimol and Castilletes Formations of the Guajira Peninsula, Colombia. Turritellids are aragonitic marine mollusks that live in shallow coastal waters, and their rapid growth rates allow for high-resolution subannual records. We compare these fossils to modern Turritella gastropods from multiple tropical localities to reconstruct subannual climate conditions. The seasonal range in δ18O in the modern shells correlates with the seasonal variance of local precipitation, once temperature seasonality is accounted for. The Miocene fossils show larger (in some cases >2‰) seasonal variation in δ18O than modern Turritella from the same location, suggesting increased seasonality of precipitation in Miocene northern Colombia relative to today. We propose that this increased seasonality of precipitation was due to a more northerly position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone during the mid-Miocene. The resulting wet Miocene paleoenvironment is in stark contrast to semiarid conditions on the Guajira Peninsula today, indicating that this area of tropical South America has undergone a drastic environmental change since the Miocene.
Isotope sclerochronology indicates enhanced seasonal precipitation in northern South America (Colombia) during the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum
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Serena R. Scholz, Sierra V. Petersen, Jaime Escobar, Carlos Jaramillo, Austin J.W. Hendy, Warren D. Allmon, Jason H. Curtis, Brendan M. Anderson, Natalia Hoyos, Juan C. Restrepo, Nicolas Perez; Isotope sclerochronology indicates enhanced seasonal precipitation in northern South America (Colombia) during the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G47235.1
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