Paleoceanography of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean

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Science  10 Jan 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5041, pp. 172-178
DOI: 10.1126/science.255.5041.172


The East Pacific Barrier (EPB) is the most effective marine barrier to dispersal of tropical shallow-water fauna in the world today. The fossil record of corals in the eastern Pacific suggests this has been true throughout the Cenozoic. In the Cretaceous, the EPB was apparently less effective in limiting dispersal. Equatorial circulation in the Pacific then appears to have been primarily east to west and the existence of oceanic atolls (now drowned guyots) in the eastern Pacific probably aided dispersal. Similarly, in the middle and early Mesozoic and late Paleozoic, terranes in the central tropical Pacific likely served as stepping stones to dispersal of tropical shelf faunas, reducing the isolating effect of an otherwise wider Pacific Ocean (Panthalassa).