Leg 85 of the Deep Sea Drilling Project operated in the eastern central Pacific in the region of the equatorial highproductivity belt. We recovered uppermost Eocene to Quaternary reference sections amenable to fine-scale stratigraphic and paleoceanographic research, using primarily the hydraulic piston corer. Four sites (572 to 575) were drilled along an east-west (about 114 to 133°W) and north-south (about 0.5 to 6°N) transect across the equatorial belt. At Site 572 an apparently complete lower middle Miocene to Quaternary sequence was recovered: the sediment sections are dominantly siliceous-calcareous oozes and chalks, and sediment accumulation rates were high (30 to 60 m/ m.y.). Sediments at Sites 573 to 575 are similar and dominated by siliceous and calcareous oozes and chalks. Sediment accumulation rates at Site 573 were generally between 10 and 35 m/m.y. The upper Eocene to Quaternary sequence is punctuated by seven hiatuses. At Site 574 a nearly complete upper Eocene to Quaternary sequence was retrieved, including a continuous Eocene to Oligocene transition. At Site 575 a lower Miocene to Quaternary section was cored. The lower to middle Miocene section is characterized by high, constant carbonate contents and sediment accumulation rates of about 20 m/m.y.; the top of the recovered section contains two hiatuses and has accumulated at rates of less than 10 m/m.y. Except for thin, basal metalliferous layers, compositional changes in Leg 85 sediments result from shifts in the relative abundances of the biogenic siliceous or calcareous components. Leg 85 sites subsided and migrated at about 0.3 cm/yr., from about 3000 m in the eastern Pacific, south of the equator, to deeper (4000 to 4600 m), more western locations at or north of the equator. The sedimentary sequences recorded regional changes in productivity (biogenic sedimentation), dissolution, and erosion associated with the equatorial belt, as well as global paleoceanographic events. The most striking regional trend is an east-west decreasing gradient in deposition of biogenic silica, prevailing from middle Miocene to Recent, which mirrors present-day surface-water productivity. A less pronounced middle Miocene to Recent latitudinal trend in deposition appears to be the result of enhanced carbonate solution to the north. The effects of deposition in the equatorial high-productivity belt have not changed since the early Miocene. Below the middle/upper Miocene boundary, the sediments have a relatively constant high carbonate content, whereas above, carbonate percentages are highly variable. The changeover level is generally marked by a hiatus and significant changes in physical, chemical, and magnetic properties of the sediments. Results of Leg 85 contributed to advances in the four elements needed for an eventual paleoceanographic synthesis: (1) a high-resolution, multidisciplinary, and integrated datum-plane scheme and time scale, with an overall resolution of 0.13 to 0.38 m.y., was established; (2) a system of correctable acoustic reflectors was delineated over vast distances, and these reflectors were calibrated against age and physical and chemical properties at Sites 574; (3) a fine-scale geochemical (stable isotope and CaCO3) and micropaleontological climatic reconstruction was developed (discontinuously) from Oligocene to Pleistocene; and (4) broadly correctable hiatuses (NH, PH), defined by previous work, were recognized at Sites 573 to 575. The interval from 8 to 9 Ma serves to outline how integration of the foregoing elements could lead to a future synthesis. In the central basin of the equatorial Pacific, the interval from 8 to 9 Ma is marked by a hiatus (NH5) in siliceous clays. A correlative hiatus occurs in carbonate oozes of the equatorial region and in the northeastern Pacific rim, and may be correlated with the "Purple" equatorial Pacific reflector. The interval is characterized globally by a regression, by strong carbonate dissolution, and by isotopic and micropaleontological evidence of marked cooling. Further study of these paleoceanographic phenomena in a variety of depositional environments will lead to an understanding of their relationships and functioning.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Affiliate

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US Government Printing Office

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Initial Reports of the Dep Sea Drilling Project

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