Paleocene - Eocene Paleoceanography

  1. Kenneth J. Hsü
  1. Hedi Oberhänsli and
  2. Kenneth J. Hsü

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GD015p0085

Mesozoic and Cenozoic Oceans

Mesozoic and Cenozoic Oceans

How to Cite

Oberhänsli, H. and Hsü, K. J. (1986) Paleocene - Eocene Paleoceanography, in Mesozoic and Cenozoic Oceans (ed K. J. Hsü), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GD015p0085

Author Information

  1. Geological Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1986

Book Series:

  1. Geodynamics Series

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875905150

Online ISBN: 9781118669914



  • Paleoceanography—Congresses;
  • Geology, Stratigraphic—Mesozoic—Congresses;
  • Geology, Stratigraphic—Cenozoic—Congresses;
  • Paleo-climatology—Congresses;
  • Ocean circulation—Congresses


Distribution patterns of carbonates, siliceous and phosphatic sediments, fluctuations of the CCD stable isotopic patterns, as well as the oceanic microplankton and terrestrial fauna records hold the key to major paleoceanographic problems. These patterns allow a better understanding of changes in global temperature and oceanic circulation. These paleoceanographic tools led to the following reconstruction: The Paleocene and Early Eocene climate was characterized by generally warm and stable conditions. A steplike climatic deterioration started by the early Middle Eocene and continued through the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. The climatic changes and changes in the current pattern are triggered, to a certain extent, by the reorganization of the ocean/continent configuration such as the separation between Greenland and Scandinavia (beginning C 24)» Australia and Antarctica and the beginning closure of the western Tethys. The driving force controlling oceanic circulation was most probably dominantly dominated by halokinetic processes before it was changed to the predominately thermohaline processes during the Late Eocene.

The Late Paleocene positive δ13C event, observed in surface and bottom water environments, coincides with a most significant benthic faunal turnover. The benthic faunal system quickly recovered some 2 Ma later.