Wolfgang Kuhnt,2 Michel Moullade,3 and Michael A. Kaminski4


Upper Cretaceous agglutinated foraminifer assemblages from Hole 959D of Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 159, Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Transform Margin, reflect the subsidence history and paleoceanography of the widening equatorial Atlantic gateway. Five benthic foraminifer assemblage types are recognized: (1) Santonian and the lowermost Campanian assemblages (Cores 159-959D-65R and 64R) are characterized by the occurrence of bathyal calcareous benthic foraminifers with an increasing proportion of agglutinated foraminifers. The disappearance of calcareous foraminifers and assemblages exclusively composed of organically cemented agglutinated forms in Section 159-959D-65R-3 reflects the subsidence of the seafloor below the calcite compensation depth (CCD); (2) lower Campanian "biofacies B" assemblages (Cores 159-959D-63R through 61R) are exclusively composed of low-diversity agglutinated foraminifers, accompanied by abundant and occasionally well-preserved radiolarian assemblages; (3) middle Campanian to upper Maastrichtian deposits (Cores 159-959D-59R through 49R) contain an exclusively agglutinated Rzehakina epigona biofacies, which is well-known from middle to deep bathyal sites along the North Atlantic margins; (4) a change in agglutinated foraminifer assemblage composition toward morphologies commonly observed in present infaunal habitats and the common occurrence of the presumably infaunal genus Spiroplectammina are observed in Core 159-959D-48R. This change in agglutinated foraminifer assemblages corresponds to the Tethyan early Paleocene "Spiroplectammina event;" (5) a diversified Paleocene "Lizard Springs type" assemblage is characterized by several diverse Rzehakina, Saccamina, and Haplophragmoides species. Assemblages from Cores 159-959D-48R through 44R display high species diversity and reflect the deepest (lower bathyal to upper abyssal) paleobathymetry.

Ranges of agglutinated foraminifer marker species and occurrences of paleoceanographic events within this biostratigraphic framework are almost identical to those observed in the North Atlantic, in the Western Tethys, and along the conjugate Brazilian margin. These observations lead us to confirm that a deep-water circulation system common to the North and South Atlantic has been active at least since the Santonian.

1Mascle, J., Lohmann, G.P., and Moullade, M. (Eds.), 1998. Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 159: College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program).
2Geologisch-Paläontologisches Institut der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Olshausenstr. 40, D-24118 Kiel, Federal Republic of Germany. wk@gpi.uni-kiel.de
3Laboratoire de Micropaléontologie et Géologie Marines, CNRS UMR 6526 &GDR 88, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France.
4Research School of Geological and Geophysical Sciences, Birkbeck College and University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.