2. Latitudinal Trends in Cenozoic Reef Patterns and their Relationship to Climate

  1. Maria Mutti3,
  2. Werner Piller4 and
  3. Christian Betzler5
  1. Christine Perrin1 and
  2. Wolfgang Kiessling2

Published Online: 3 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118398364.ch2

Carbonate Systems during the Oligocene-Miocene Climatic Transition

Carbonate Systems during the Oligocene-Miocene Climatic Transition

How to Cite

Perrin, C. and Kiessling, W. (2012) Latitudinal Trends in Cenozoic Reef Patterns and their Relationship to Climate, in Carbonate Systems during the Oligocene-Miocene Climatic Transition (eds M. Mutti, W. Piller and C. Betzler), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118398364.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften Universität Potsdam, Postfach 60 15 53 D-14415 Potsdam, Germany

  2. 4

    Institute for Earth Sciences (Geology & Paleontology) University of Graz, Heinrichstrasse 26, A-8010 Graz, Austria

  3. 5

    Geologisch-Palaeontologisches Institut, Bundesstr. 55, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany

Author Information

  1. 1

    Laboratoire des Mécanismes et Transferts en Géologie, Université Paul Sabatier, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse & Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paléobiodiversité et Paléoenvironnements (UMR 5143 - USM203), Département Histoire de la Terre, 8 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France

  2. 2

    Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity at the Humboldt University Berlin, 10115 Berlin, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 3 APR 2012
  2. Published Print: 5 APR 2012

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 42 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis6,7

Series Editor Information

  1. 6

    School of Geography, Geology and the Environment Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research, Kingston University London, UK

  2. 7

    Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444337914

Online ISBN: 9781118398364



  • reefs;
  • palaeoclimate;
  • Oligocene;
  • Miocene;
  • greenhouse;
  • icehouse


Reefs, especially tropical coral reefs, are commonly thought to be highly sensitive to climate change. The relationship between Cenozoic reef distribution, as recorded in the PaleoReefs database, and palaeoclimatic change, as inferred from geological and geochemical proxies, has been tested. The focus is on the Oligocene–Miocene transition, but the entire pre-Pleistocene Cenozoic reef distribution was analyzed to put the results into a broader context. It is found that reef distribution patterns are not cross-correlated with palaeoclimate change. If anything, the global cooling trend fromthe Eocene to the Miocene is correlated with an increase of reef carbonate production and a latitudinal expansion of the reefbelt, rather thantheexpectedopposite. This reef–climateparadoxisbestexplained by a combination of two end-member hypotheses: (1) a macroevolutionary shift led from an extrinsic control (i.e. climate-driven) on reef development during the early Palaeogene greenhouse, to an intrinsic control (i.e. biological adaptation to new oceanographic and nutrient conditions) in the late Palaeogene–Neogene icehouse; and (2) the deleterious effects of climatic cooling on reef buildingweremade up by changes in oceanography that led to a reduction of equatorial upwelling, and an increase of habitat area of low-nutrient shallow-water settings favourable for zooxanthellate coral reef growth.