The extinction of Chiloguembelina cubensis in the Pacific Ocean: implications for defining the base of the Chattian (upper Oligocene)
King, David J.; Wade, Bridget S.
Newsletters on Stratigraphy Volume 50 Number 3 (2017), p. 311 - 339
published: May 1, 2017
Open Access (paper can be downloaded for free)
We conducted quantitative biostratigraphic and morphometric studies at two ocean drilling sites in the Pacific Ocean to investigate the extinction of the planktonic foraminifera genus Chiloguembelina, a distinctive biserial genus ranging in the Eocene and Oligocene. The extinction of the last species of the genus, C. cubensis, has historically been used as a correlation event for the base of the Chattian (upper Oligocene; ~ 28 Ma). However, the bioevent has been controversial, as some authors have found a well-defined bio horizon, while others have found a decline in abundance with a continuation of C. cubensis into the upper Oligocene. This has been reflected in the preference of using the Top Common occurrence (5% of the foraminiferal assemblage) of the species as a correlation event for the boundary. We assessed the utility of C. cubensis as a reliable biohorizon at Ocean Drilling Program Leg 202 Site 1237 (south-east Pacific Ocean) and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 320/321 Site U1334 (eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean). At both sites C. cubensis is a common and consistent component of early Oligocene planktonic foraminiferal assemblages. An abrupt termination of C. cubensis occurs at Site 1237 in magnetic polarity Subchron C10n.1n (27.89 Ma), while at Site U1334 peak abundances of C. cubensis are recorded in the upper Oligocene within Chron 9n with a younger datum for the extinction at ~ 27.15 Ma. Therefore, the biostratigraphic utility of the species as a boundary marker for the base of the Chattian remains unclear. We propose that the phrase "C. cubensis crisis" is the most suitable for describing the extinction or decline in abundance of the species in the mid Oligocene, based upon the findings from these two sites and other age calibrated sites. Morphometric analysis of specimen size at the two sites shows a markedly smaller test size at Site 1237 compared with Site U1334, with specimens from the former being on average 1.37 x shorter and 1.45 x thinner. Differences in test size and extinction horizon are possibly controlled by ecological preferences, however, our bio chronological compilation of ocean drilling sites does not reveal a latitudinal trend in extinction level.