Original paper

Biozonation and biochronology of Miocene through Pleistocene calcareous nannofossils from low and middle latitudes

Backman, Jan; Raffi, Isabella; Rio, Domenico; Fornaciari, Eliana; Pälike, Heiko


Calcareous nannofossils are widely used in Cenozoic marine biostratigraphy. At present, the two most widely used calcareous nannofossil biozonations were established approximately 40 years ago. These were derived from marine land sections and Deep Sea Drilling Project rotary cored sediments. Over nearly three decades, we have generated Miocene through Pleistocene calcareous nannofossil data from deep sea sediments in low and middle latitude regions. The sediments used here have been mostly recovered using the advanced piston coring technique, generating less core disturbance and complete recovery via multiple penetration of the sediment column at single sites. A consistent trait in our work on calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy has been to use semi-quantiative methods in combination with short sample distances, close enough to capture the details of the abundance behaviour of individual calcareous nannofossil taxa. Such data represent the foundation of the new biozonation presented here, which still partly relies on the pioneering work presented by Erlend Martini and David Bukry about 40 years ago. A key aim here has been to employ a limited set of selected biohorizons for the purpose of establishing a relatively coarsely resolved and stable biozonation. We present 31 biozones using a new code system: CNM1-CNM20; Calcareous Nannofossil Miocene biozones 1 through 20. CNPL1-CNPL11; Calcareous Nannofossil Plio-Pleistocene biozones 1 through 11. As the new biozonation encompasses 23 million years, the average biozone resolution becomes 0.74 million years, ranging from 0.15 to 2.20 million years. A single biohorizon is used for the definition of each biozone boundary. Auxiliary markers are avoided, as well as subzones, in order to maintain stability to the new biozonation. Virtually every biozone holds one or several additional biohorizons. These, together with all biozone boundary markers, are assigned age estimates derived chiefly from astronomically tuned cyclostratigraphies.


calcareous nannofossilsbiozonationbiochronologymiocene-pleistocene