The collection of Leg 138 well-log and shipboard physical-property data, in conjunction with high-resolution seismic profiles, provides an opportunity to understand the paleoceanographic significance of seismic reflectors and to gain insight into the paleoceanographic evolution of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. A series of eight reflectors or reflector packages were traced between two transects connecting five Leg 138 sites. By generating synthetic seismograms at each of these sites and comparing these to the field records, the origin of these seismic reflectors was determined in terms of physical-property variations and other core measurements. In particular, these reflectors were usually associated with sharp variations in density, which in turn, are related to variations in carbonate content. Intervals with moderate or poor nannofossil preservation indices were generally restricted to intervals below the reflectors traced in this study, suggesting that dissolution played little role in producing these reflectors. However, intervals with T. longissima mats were associated with many of the reflectors (R3-b, R4, R5-t, R5-b, R6) at the three sites (847, 849, and 850) where this diatom was encountered. This suggests that the reflectors found in this study are related to productivity events, although these events manifested themselves in a different way at the sites in which T. longissima mats were not observed. Interpreted seismic stratigraphic sections were compiled from the reflector horizon data for the two transects. Along the western transect, the section between reflectors R3 and R8 thins abruptly north of l°40' to l°50'N, suggesting that this marks the northern limit of high equatorial productivity at that time (3.9-9.5 Ma), because the seafloor is reasonably constant in depth along this transect. Unfortunately, statements about sharp productivity gradients cannot be made for the eastern transect where sediment thinning corresponds to a deepening of the seafloor and thus may be related to variations in dissolution. Finally, six reflectors were found to be associated with major paleoceanographic events; three of these reflectors correspond to those found by Mayer et al. (1985,1986) in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean, suggesting that these correspond to Pacific-wide Oceanographic events. One of these reflectors (R8-b) is caused by a pervasive dissolution event as is its central equatorial counterpart. The others (R3-b and R5-t), however, appear to be the result of productivity events in the eastern equatorial Pacific that are synchronous with dissolution events in the central equatorial Pacific. We suggest that while localized high productivity creates low carbonate intervals (and thus reflectors) in the eastern equatorial Pacific, steep gradients in the CCD result in enhanced dissolution and low carbonate intervals (and thus reflectors) in the deeper central equatorial Pacific


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Affiliate

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International Ocean Discovery Program

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Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program

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