Oceanic primary productivity and dissolved oxygen levels at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary: Their decrease, subsequent warming, and recovery

Kunio Kaiho, Yoshimichi Kajiwara, Kazue Tazaki, Masato Ueshima, Nobuyori Takeda, Hodaka Kawahata, Tetsuya Arinobu, Ryoshi Ishiwatari, Akio Hirai, Marcos A. Lamolda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Thirty-six different geochemical and foraminiferal analyses were conducted on samples collected at closely spaced intervals across the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary exposed at Caravaca, Spain. A rapid reduction in the gradient between δ13C values in fine fraction carbonate and benthic foraminiferal calcite and a decrease in the abundance of phosphorus (a proxy for organic carbon) and calcium were recorded in sediments 0-0.5 cm above the K/T boundary. These trends imply that an abrupt mass mortality occurred among pelagic organisms, leading to a significant reduction in the flux of organic carbon to the seafloor. In addition, variations in sulfur isotope ratios, the hydrocarbon-generating potential of kerogen (measured as the hydrogen index), and foraminiferal indices of dissolved oxygen level all imply that a rapid decrease in dissolved oxygen was coincident with the δ13C event. Evidence of the low oxygen event has also been recognized in Japan and New Zealand, suggesting that intermediate water oxygen minima were widely developed during earliest Danian time. A threefold increase in the kaolinite/illite ratio and a 1.2‰ decrease in δ18O (carbonate fine fraction) were recorded in the basal 0.1-2 cm of Danian age sediments. These trends suggest that atmospheric warming and an increase in surface water temperature occurred 0-3 kyr after the δ13C event. Recovery in the difference between δ13C values in the carbonate fine fraction and in benthic foraminiferal calcite as well as increases in phosphorus and calcium contents occur at the base of planktonic foraminiferal Zone P1a, implying that an increase in primary productivity commenced some 13 kyr after the K/T boundary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-524
Number of pages14
JournalPaleoceanography
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Aug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology

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