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Carbon and oxygen isotopes of bulk carbonate in sediment deposited beneath the eastern equatorial Pacific over the last 8 million years

Authors: Daniele Reghellin, Helen K. Coxall, Gerald R. Dickens and Jan Backman
First published: 21 October 2015Full publication history
DOI: 10.1002/2015PA002825View/save citation

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To improve the understanding and utility of bulk carbonate stable carbon and oxygen isotope measurements, we examine sediment from cores in the eastern equatorial Pacific that span the last 8 Ma. We measured δ13C and δ18O in 791 samples from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site U1338 and Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 573, both located close to the Pacific equator. In 100 samples, we measured δ13C and δ18O on isolated <63 µm and <38 µm fractions, which concentrates calcareous nannofossil carbonate and progressively excludes foraminiferal carbonate. Bulk carbonate δ13C and δ18O records are similar to published records from other sites drilled near the equator and seem to reflect mixed layer conditions, albeit with some important caveats involving the precipitation of calcite by coccolithophores. The comparatively lower δ13C and δ18O of the <63 µm and <38 µm fractions in sediments younger than 4.4 Ma is attributed to an increase in deep-dwelling planktic foraminifera material in bulk carbonate, shifting the bulk isotopic signals toward higher values. Bulk carbonate δ13C is similar over 2500 km along the Pacific equator, suggesting covarying concentrations and δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon within surface waters since 8 Ma. Greater bulk sediment δ13C and δ18O, higher sedimentation rates, and low content of coarse material suggest intensified wind-driven upwelling and enhanced primary productivity along the Pacific equator between 8.0 and 4.4 Ma, although a full understanding of bulk carbonate records will require extensive future work.

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