Pliocene-Pleistocene Boundary in Deep-Sea Sediments

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Science  22 Feb 1963:
Vol. 139, Issue 3556, pp. 727-737
DOI: 10.1126/science.139.3556.727


For a hundred years students of the Pleistocene have looked for evidence of the climatic change which initiated the Pleistocene epoch. Glacial deposits on the continents have been of little help because of their discontinuity and because of the destructive effect of later glaciations. Hence, Pleistocene geologists have turned to the uplifted Pliocene-Pleistocene marine sediments of the Mediterranean region. In the absence of evidence of a single, clearly defined climatic change in this sedimentary section, they have agreed to define the beginning of the Pleistocene by the first appearance of Anomalina baltica, a species of benthic Foraminifera tolerant of cool water. This definition leaves much to be desired: It rests on a single benthic species whose areal distribution must have been partly determined by local conditions on the sea floor; it is useless outside of the Mediterranean region; and there is no convincing evidence that the first appearance of Anomalina baltica in the Mediterranean coincided with the onset of the first glaciation.