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The benthic foraminiferal response to the mid-Maastrichtian event in the NW-European chalk sea of the Maastrichtian type area

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The mid-Maastrichtian carbon isotope event (MME), dated at ∼69 Ma, reflects a perturbation of the global carbon cycle that, in part, correlates with the enigmatic global extinction of ‘true’ (i.e., non-tegulated) inoceramid bivalves. The mechanisms of this extinction event are still debated.While both the inoceramid extirpation and MME have been recorded in a variety of deep-sea sites, little is known about their expression in epicontinental chalk seas. In order to study the shallow-marine signature of the MME in this epicontinental shelf sea, we have generated quantitative foraminiferal assemblage data for two quarries (Hallembaye, NE Belgium; ENCI, SE Netherlands) in the Maastrichtian type area, complemented by a species-specific benthic δ13C record. In contrast to deep-sea records, no significant changes in benthic foraminiferal assemblages and benthic foraminiferal accumulation rates are observed across the MME in the type-Maastrichtian area. At the Hallembaye quarry, the otherwise rare endobenthic species Cuneus trigona reaches a transient peak abundance of 33.3% at the onset of the MME, likely caused by a local transient change in organic matter flux to the seafloor. Nevertheless, high and near-constant species evenness shows that neither oxygen nor organic matter flux was limited across the extinction level or during the MME. Benthic foraminiferal data from the uppermost part of the studied section, above the MME, indicate a significant increase in food supply to the seafloor. Decreased amounts of terrigenous elements across this interval document a lesser riverine or aeolian influx, which means that the increased benthic productivity is linked to a different origin. Potentially, the continuous precipitation of chalk under nutrient-poor conditions in the Late Cretaceous chalk sea was enabled by efficient nutrient recycling in the water column. In shallower depositional settings, nutrient recycling took place closer to the seafloor, which allowed more organic matter to reach the bottom. These results provide insights in the importance of nutrient cycling for biological productivity in the NW-European chalk sea.
Tijdschrift: Netherlands Journal of Geosciences - Geologie en Mijnbouw
ISSN: 0016-7746
Volume: 101
Pagina's: 1-16
Jaar van publicatie:2022
Trefwoorden:benthic foraminifera, Cretaceous chalk sea, inoceramid extinction, mid-Maastrichtian event