Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results (1988) 101: 221-244. Paper number 16. Copyright 1988, Ocean Drilling Program. Used by permission.


Hole 633A was drilled in the southern part of Exuma Sound on the toe-of-slope of the southeastern part of Great Bahama Bank during ODP Leg 101. The top 55 m, collected as a suite of six approximately 9.5-m-long hydraulic piston cores, represents a Pliocene-Pleistocene sequence of periplatform carbonate ooze, a mixture of pelagic calcite (foraminifer and coccolith tests), some pelagic aragonite (pteropod tests), and bank-derived fine aragonite and magnesian calcite. A 1.6-m.y.-long hiatus was identified at 43.75 mbsf using calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy.

The 43.75-m-thick periplatform sequence above the hiatus is a complete late Pliocene-Quaternary record of the past 2.15 m.y. The δ18O curve, primarily based on Globigerinoides sacculifera, clearly displays high-frequency/low-amplitude cycles during the early Pleistocene and low-frequency/high-amplitude cycles during the middle and late Pleistocene. Variations in aragonite content in the fine fraction of the periplatform ooze show a cyclic pattern throughout the Pleistocene, as previously observed in piston cores of the upper Pleistocene. These variations correlate well with the δ18O record: high aragonite corresponds to light interglacial 5180 values, and vice versa. Comparison of the δ18O record and the aragonite curve helps to identify 23 interglacial and glacial oxygen-isotope stages, corresponding to 10.5 aragonite cycles (labeled A to K) commonly established during the middle and late Pleistocene (0.9 Ma-present). Strictly based on the aragonite curve, another 11 aragonite cycles, labeled L to V, were identified for the early Pleistocene (0.9 to 1.6 Ma). Mismatches between the 5lsO record and the aragonite curve occur mainly at some of the glacial-to-interglacial transitions, where aragonite increases usually lag behind δ18O depletion. When one visually connects the minima on the Pleistocene aragonite curve, low-frequency (0.4 to 0.5 m.y.) supercycles seem to be superimposed on the high-frequency cycles. The timing of this supercycle roughly matches the timing of the Pleistocene carbonate preservation supercycles described in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. Mismatches between aragonite and δ18O cycles are even more obvious for the late Pliocene (1.6 to 2.15 Ma). Irregular aragonite variations are observed for the late Pliocene, although after the onset of late Pleistocene-like glaciations in the North Atlantic Ocean 2.4 m.y. ago the δ18O record has shown a mode of high-frequency/low-amplitude cycles. Initiation of climatically induced aragonite cycles occurs only at the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition, 1.6 m.y. ago. After that time, aragonite cycles are fully developed throughout the Quaternary.

The 11-m-thick periplatform sequence below the hiatus represents a lower Pliocene interval between 3.75 and 4.45 Ma. The bottom half (4.25-4.45 Ma) has a fairly constant, high aragonite content (averaging 60%) and high sedimentation rates (28 m/m.y.) and corresponds to the end of the prolonged early Pliocene interglacial interval (4.1-5.0 Ma), established as a worldwide high sea-level stand. The second half (3.75-4.25 Ma), in which aragonite content decreases by successive steps, paralleled by a gradual δ18O enrichment in Globigerinoides sacculifera and low sedimentation rates (10 m/m.y), corresponds to the climatic deterioration established worldwide between 4.1 and 3.8 Ma, to a decrease of carbonate preservation observed in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and to a global sea-level decline. Dolomite, a ubiquitous secondary component in the lower Pliocene, is interpreted as being authigenic and possibly related to diagenetic transformation of primary bank-derived fine magnesian calcite.

Transformation of the primary mineralogical composition of the periplatform ooze was evidently minor, as the sediments have retained a detailed record of the Pliocene-Pleistocene climatic evolution. Clear evidence of diagenetic transformations in the periplatform ooze includes (1) the disappearance of magnesian calcite in the upper 20 m of Hole 633A, (2) the occurrence of calcite overgrowths on foraminiferal tests and microclasts at intermittent chalky core levels, and (3) the ubiquitous presence of authigenic dolomite in the lower Pliocene.