Thermal Structure of the Deep Pacific Ocean in the Early Pliocene

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Science  28 Sep 1979:
Vol. 205, Issue 4413, pp. 1386-1388
DOI: 10.1126/science.205.4413.1386


The thermal structure of the Pacific Ocean between water depths of about 1 and 4.5 kilometers is estimated from the oxygen isotopic ratio of benthonic foraminifera from deep-drilled and piston cores of early Pliocene age (about 3 to 5 million years ago). The ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 in the early Pliocene at each site varies by an average of only ± 0.12 per mil (1 standard deviation). A plot of the oxygen isotopic ratio against modern bottom-water temperature is adequately fit by a line having a slope of – 0.26 per mil per degree Celsius (the equilibrium temperature dependence of calcite-water fractionation), suggesting that the temperature gradient of the Pacific Ocean during the early Pliocene was similar to that of today.