Campanian-Maastrichtian ocean circulation in the tropical Pacific



The Pacific Ocean is the largest water body on Earth, and circulation in the Pacific contributed significantly to climate evolution in the latest Cretaceous, the culmination of a period of long-term cooling. Here, we present new high-resolution late Campanian to Maastrichtian benthic and planktic foraminiferal stable isotope data and a neodymium (Nd) isotope record obtained from sedimentary ferromanganese oxide coatings of Ocean Drilling Program Hole 1210B from the tropical Pacific Ocean (Shatsky Rise). These new records resolve 13 million years in the latest Cretaceous, providing insights into changes in surface and bottom water temperatures and source regions of deep to intermediate waters covering the carbon isotope excursions of the Campanian-Maastrichtian Boundary Event (CMBE) and the Mid-Maastrichtian event (MME). Our new benthic foraminiferal δ18O and Nd isotope records together with published Nd isotope data show markedly parallel trends across the studied interval over a broad range of bathyal to abyssal water depths interpreted to reflect changes in the intensity of deep-ocean circulation in the tropical Pacific. In particular, we observe a three-million-year-long period of cooler conditions in the early Maastrichtian (72.5 to 69.5 Ma) when a concomitant change toward less radiogenic seawater Nd isotope signatures probably marks a period of enhanced admixture and northward flow of deep waters with Southern Ocean provenance. We suggest this change to have been triggered by intensified formation and convection of deep waters in the high southern latitudes, a process that weakened during the MME (69.5 to 68.5 Ma). The early Maastrichtian cold interval is closely related to the negative and positive carbon isotope trends of the CMBE and MME. The millions-of-years long duration of these carbon cycle perturbations suggests a tectonic forcing of climatic cooling, possibly related to changes in ocean basin geometry and bathymetry.