Benthic foraminiferal species abundance in samples from three Mendeleyev Ridge box cores were analyzed by cluster analysis and the newer method of SHE analysis. Previously, the latter technique only has been used on foraminiferal data from depth transects of modern surface sediment samples. Unlike most methods, which initially compare all possible pairs of samples, the SHE procedure results in a linear pattern if a sequence of samples are from the same statistical distribution. A change in slope indicates a statistical change in community structure and/or a change in species composition.
The research reported herein is the first application of SHE for the purpose of identifying biozones in sediment core samples for the purpose of stratigraphic correlation. Both cluster analysis and the SHE method provided zonation within cores. However, the cluster method often produced clusters that were difficult to identify and also contained a mixture of samples without stratigraphic continuity. In contrast, SHE resulted in easily identifiable biozones and ensured temporal continuity within them. In general, the cluster analysis produced more zones than the SHE analysis. About 87% of the cluster zones and 64% of the SHE zones were correlated across more than one core. The average age range for correlated biozone boundaries among the three cores, based on radiocarbon dates, was 821 years using cluster analysis and 296 years using SHE. The sequential nature of the analysis, ease in choosing boundaries, and correlation of these boundaries across cores makes SHE the preferred technique.