Global climate change and planktic foraminiferal response in the Maastrichtian

Sigal Abramovich, Shlomit Yovel-Corem, Ahuva Almogi-Labin, Chaim Benjamini

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57 Scopus citations


The lengthy warm, stable climate of the Cretaceous terminated in the Campanian with a cooling trend, interrupted in the early and latest Maastrichtian by two events of global warming, at ~70-68 Ma and at 65.78- 65.57 Ma. These climatic oscillations had a profound effect on pelagic ecosystems, especially on planktic foraminiferal populations. Here we compare biotic responses in the tropical-subtropical (Tethyan) open ocean and mesotrophic (Zin Valley, Israel) and oligotrophic (Tunisia) slopes, which correlate directly with global warming and cooling. The two warming events coincide with blooms of Guembelitria, an extreme opportunist genus best known as the main survivor of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) catastrophe. In the Maastrichtian, Guembelitria bloomed in the uppermost surface water above shelf and slope environments but failed to reach the open ocean as it did at K-Pg. The coldest interval of the late Maastrichtian (~68-65.78 Ma) is marked by an acme of the otherwise rare species Gansserina gansseri, a deep-dwelling keeled globotruncanid. The G. gansseri acme event can be traced from the deep ocean even onto the Tethyan slope, marking copious production and circulation of cold intermediate water. This acme is abruptly terminated by extinction of the species, a dramatic reversal attributed to a short-term global warming episode. This extinction corresponds precisely with the second bloom of Guembelitria that began ~300 kyr prior to the K-Pg event. The antithetical relationship between blooming of Guembelitria and the G. gansseri acme reflects planktic foraminiferal sensitivity to warm-cool-warm-cool climatic oscillations marking the end of the Cretaceous.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberPA2201
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Paleontology


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