Radiolarian faunal turnover across the Oligocene/Miocene boundary in the equatorial Pacific Ocean

Shin Ichi Kamikuri, Hiroshi Nishi, Theodore C. Moore, Catherine A. Nigrini, Isao Motoyama

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The global warming trend of the latest Oligocene was interrupted by several cooling events associated with Antarctic glaciations. These cooling events affected surface water productivity and plankton assemblages. Well-preserved radiolarians were obtained from upper Oligocene to lower Miocene sediments at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 199 Sites 1218 and 1219 in the equatorial Pacific, and 110 radiolarian species were identified. Four episodes of significant radiolarian faunal changes were identified: middle late Oligocene (27.5 to 27.3 Ma), latest Oligocene (24.4 Ma), earliest Miocene (23.3 Ma), and middle early Miocene (21.6 Ma). These four episodes approximately coincide with increases and decreases of biogenic silica accumulation rates and increases in δ18O values coded as "Oi" and "Mi" events. These data indicate that Antarctic glaciations were associated with change of siliceous sedimentation patterns and faunal changes in the equatorial Pacific. Radiolarian fauna was divided into three assemblages based on variations in radiolarian productivity, species richness and the composition of dominant species: a late Oligocene assemblage (27.6 to 24.4 Ma), a transitional assemblage (24.4 to 23.3 Ma) and an early Miocene assemblage (23.3 to 21.2 Ma). The late Oligocene assemblage is characterized by relatively high productivity, low species richness and four dominant species of Tholospyris anthophora, Stichocorys subligata, Lophocyrtis nomas and Lithelius spp. The transitional assemblage represents relatively low values of productivity and species richness, and consists of three dominant species of T. anthophora, S. subligata and L. nomas. The characteristics of the early Miocene assemblage are relatively low productivity, but high species richness. The two dominant species present in this assemblage are T. anthophora and Cyrtocapsella tetrapera. The most significant faunal turnover of radiolarians is marked at the boundary between the transitional/early Miocene assemblages. We also reviewed changes in other microfossil assemblages in the low latitudes during the late Oligocene through early Miocene. The microfossil assemblages of major groups show sequential changes near the Oligocene/Miocene (O/M) boundary (23.8 Ma). Many extinction events and some first occurrences of calcareous nannofossils and many occurrences of radiolarians are found from about 24.8 to 23.3 Ma, and first occurrences of planktic foraminifers and diatoms followed from 23.2 through 22 Ma. Hence, the O/M boundary is identified as a significant level for microfossil evolutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-96
Number of pages23
JournalMarine Micropaleontology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Antarctic glaciations
  • Faunal turnover
  • Oligocene/Miocene boundary
  • Radiolaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology

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