Get access

Middle to late Miocene stepwise climate cooling: Evidence from a high-resolution deep water isotope curve spanning 8 million years



[1] We present high-resolution (2–3 kyr) benthic foraminiferal stable isotopes in a continuous, well-preserved sedimentary archive from the West Pacific Ocean (Ocean Drilling Program Site 1146), which track climate evolution in unprecedented resolution over the period 12.9 to 8.4 Ma. We developed an astronomically tuned chronology over this interval and integrated our new records with published isotope data from the same location to reconstruct long-term climate and ocean circulation development between 16.4 and 8.4 Ma. This extended perspective reveals that the long eccentricity (400 kyr) cycle is prominently encoded in the δ13C signal over most of the record, reflecting long-term fluctuations in the carbon cycle. The δ18O signal closely follows variations in short eccentricity (100 kyr) and obliquity (41 kyr). In particular, the obliquity cycle is prominent from ~14.6 to 14.1 Ma and from ~9.8 to 9.2 Ma, when high-amplitude variability in obliquity is congruent with low-amplitude variability in short eccentricity. The δ18O curve is additionally characterized by a series of incremental steps at ~14.6, 13.9, 13.1, 10.6, 9.9, and 9.0 Ma, which we attribute to progressive deep water cooling and/or glaciation episodes following the end of the Miocene climatic optimum. On the basis of δ18O amplitudes, we find that climate variability decreased substantially after ~13 Ma, except for a remarkable warming episode at ~10.8–10.7 Ma at peak insolation during eccentricity maxima (100 and 400 kyr). This transient warming, associated with a massive negative carbon isotope shift, is reminiscent of intense global warming events at eccentricity maxima during the Miocene climatic optimum.

Get access to the full text of this article