Latest Oligocene to Earliest Pliocene Benthic Foraminiferal Biofacies of the Northeastern Gulf-of-Mexico

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We examined uppermost Oligocene to lowermost Pliocene sections from four northeastern Gulf of Mexico boreholes for quantitative benthic foraminiferal faunal changes, stratigraphic ranges, paleobathymetry, organic carbon content, and planktonic foraminiferal relative abundances. The Eureka boreholes provide a depth transect in the De Soto Canyon area from the upper to lower bathyal zone: E68-136 (557m present depth, approximately paleodepth), E66-73 (857m present depth, 860-1000m paleodepth), E68-151A (1326m present depth, approximately 1300m paleodepth), and E68-141A (1599m present depth, approximately 1600m paleodepth). A number of taxa last appeared in the late Oligocene to early Miocene (Biochrons P22-N5) at E68-136; several of these disappearances constitute global last occurrences. A global benthic foraminiferal taxonomic turnover that began in the latest early Miocene in other parts of the ocean was restricted to the middle Miocene at E68-136 (Biochrons N9-N12), although faunal abundance changes began in late early Miocene Biochron N8. At middle bathyal borehole E66-73, ten taxa last occurred in Biochrons N8-N10, which is consistent with the timing of the taxonomic turnover in the Pacific and Atlantic. Depth-related faunal trends are examined and compared with previously published distributional data, resulting in revised paleobathymetric ranges of 12 taxa. Detailed age-paleodepth reconstructions reveal several stratigraphically and bathymetrically significant predominance biofacies in the northeast Gulf of Mexico: 1) Uvigerina pigmea dominated the middle-upper bathyal late Neogene; 2) Lenticulina spp. dominated the late Oligocene- middle Miocene bathyal zone; 3) Oridorsalis spp., Gyroidinoides spp., and Globocassidulina subglobosa dominated the late Neogene lower bathyal zone; and 4) Uvigerina proboscidea was important in die late Neogene in the middle to upper bathyal zones. Four distinct bathymetric migrations are mapped, and 34 additional taxa are shown to have distinct paleobathymetric distributions. Planktonic foraminiferal biostratigraphic control allows us to evaluate the stratigraphic usefulness of benthic foraminiferal ranges. We revise the stratigraphic ranges of 12 bathyal benthic foraminiferal taxa, requiring re-correlation of the benthic foraminiferal zonal boundaries of Berggren and Miller (1989).


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