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Calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy and assemblages of the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval: Implications for the origin and timing of oceanic anoxia


  • Timothy J. Bralower


A detailed nannofossil zonation has been derived for the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval consisting of three zones, two subzones, and nine additional biohorizons. This biostratigraphy, based on the investigation of numerous sections from Europe, North America, and Africa, allows accurate correlation of sections from shelf and deep-sea environments. The increased resolution helps solve several pertinent paleoceanographic and sedimentologic problems in this time period. Facies patterns are variable in this interval for numerous reasons. A widespread hiatus occurred in the latest Cenomanian and earliest Turonian in much of northwest Europe and may have been an indirect result of peak marine transgression. In parts of the deep Tethys, dissolution of carbonate took place in undersaturated bottom waters or during early diagenesis. Only a few boundary sections, mostly within the Western Interior, United States, are characterized by continuous carbonate deposition. In many sections a ∥13C excursion (which has been associated with the burial of large amounts of marine organic matter) coincides with a facies change, lower ratios of coccolith carbonate to micrite, and poorer nannofossil preservation. This excursion therefore may be strongly overprinted by diagenesis. Numerous nannofossil events indicate that the carbon excursion is slightly diachronous between sequences of the Western Interior, and that the shift occurred distinctly later in this region than in northwest Germany. The data obtained do not invalidate the concept of a Cenomanian-Turonian ocean-wide anoxic event but show how local tectonic, climatic, and oceanographic perturbations have masked the global scenario. In particular, they indicate that carbon shifts may be basinal and not always oceanic phenomena, a conclusion which can be rationalized with overall sluggish middle Cretaceous circulation. Nannofossil assemblages in almost all sequences observed contain exceptionally high abundances of two dissolution-resistant taxa in particular samples: Eprolithus floralis and Broinsonia sp.. However, the overall composition of assemblages does not change dramatically in the boundary interval, in contrast to the macrofossils and foraminifera, which suffered widespread extinctions.

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