Monday, May 30, 2016

The Effects of Maastrichtian Cretaceous Global Cooling on Nutrient Availability in the Ocean

The impact of the Maastrichtian cooling on the marine nutrient regime – evidence from mid-latitudinal calcareous nannofossils


Linnert et al


The latest Campanian–earliest Maastrichtian interval is well known as a period of intense climate cooling. This cooling caused a distinctive bipolar biogeographic distribution of calcareous nannofossil assemblages: High latitude settings were dominated by newly evolving endemic taxa, former cosmopolitan species disappeared at the same time and equatorial communities experienced an invasion of cool water taxa. The impact of this cooling on northern mid-latitude assemblages is, however, less well known. In order to overcome this gap we studied the Kronsmoor section (northwest Germany). This section provides a continuous upper Campanian – lower Maastrichtian succession with moderately to well preserved nannofossils. Uppermost Campanian assemblages are dominated by Prediscosphaera cretacea; other common taxa include Prediscosphaera stoveri, Watznaueria barnesiae and Micula staurophora. The lower Maastrichtian is characterized by lower numbers of P. cretacea and frequent Kamptnerius magnificus, Arkhangelskiella cymbiformis and Cribrosphaerella ehrenbergii. These changes reflect, in part, the Campanian–Maastrichtian boundary cooling since some successful taxa (e.g. K. magnificus) are related to cool surface waters. Other shifts in the nannofossil communities were perhaps the result of a changing nutrient regime. Stronger latitudinal gradients may have increased wind velocities and thus the eolian input of ferruginous dust required by N-fixing bacteria. The enhanced high latitude deep-water formation probably changed the bottom-water environment in disfavor of denitrificating organisms. A decline of chemical weathering and fluviatile transport may have reduced the amount of bioavailable phosphate. These processes led to an increased nitrate and a decreased phosphate content shifting the nutrient regime from nitrate towards phosphate limitation.

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