Parallel changes in species diversity and palaeotemperature in the Lower Miocene


OXYGEN isotope analysis of planktonic foraminifera from 12 samples of deep-sea sediment of Lower Miocene age has been performed to estimate the sea-surface temperature at that time, and the results are reported here. The samples were taken from a borehole in the English Channel, 110 km south-west of the Isles of Scilly1. The planktonic foraminifera have already been described in detail1 and it has been shown that the fauna is from the Lower Miocene Burdigalian Globigerinoides trilobus zone. Comparison with samples of the same age from New Zealand suggests sea-surface temperatures in the range 16–20°C or warmer, on the basis of oxygen isotope determinations in New Zealand2 and on the presence in the present samples of Globigerinoides sacculifer (Brady). It has also been suggested from previous palaeoecological work on foraminifera of the Western Approaches, that there was only a small difference between the Miocene and present-day sea-surface August temperatures (which are 15–18 °C)3.

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JENKINS, D., SHACKLETON, N. Parallel changes in species diversity and palaeotemperature in the Lower Miocene. Nature 278, 50–51 (1979).

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