Early to middle Eocene magneto-biochronology of the southwest Pacific Ocean and climate influence on sedimentation: new data from the Mead Stream section (Marlborough, New Zealand)
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Mead Stream section (South Island, New Zealand) consists of a 650-m-thick series of continuous and well-exposed strata deposited on a South Pacific continental slope from the Late Cretaceous to the middle Eocene. We examined the uppermost Paleocene–middle Eocene part of the Mead Stream section, which consists of ~360 m of limestone and marl, for detailed magnetic polarity stratigraphy, calcareous nannofossil, and foraminifera biostratigraphy. Magneto-biostratigraphic data indicate that the section straddles magnetic polarity Chrons from C24r to C18n, calcareous nannofossil Zone from NP9a to NP17 (CNP11–CNE15 following a recently revised Paleogene zonation), and from the Waipawan to the Bortonian New Zealand stages (i.e., from the base of the Ypresian to the Bartonian international stages), encompassing 17 Myr (56–39 Ma) of Southwest Pacific Ocean history. The ages of calcareous nannofossil biohorizons are consistent with low to mid-latitude data from the literature, indicating that during the early–middle Eocene the low-mid latitude calcareous nannofossil domain extended at least to ~50–55°S in the South Pacific. Correlation of the magnetic polarity stratigraphy from the Mead Stream section with the geomagnetic polarity time scale allows us to derive the sediment accumulation rates (SAR), which range between 8 and 44 m/Myr. Comparing the SAR with paleotemperature proxy records, we found that two intervals of increased SAR occurred during the early Eocene climatic optimum (EECO; 52–50 Ma) and during the transient climate warming culminating with the middle Eocene climatic optimum (MECO; 40.5 Ma). This correlation indicates that the climate evolution of the early–middle Eocene is recorded in the sedimentation patterns whereby times of warmer climate promote continental weathering, transportation, and accumulation of terrigenous sediments.