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Tropical Sea Surface Temperatures following the Middle Miocene Climate Transition from Laser-Ablation ICP-MS analysis of glassy foraminifera
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  • Michael Grahame Nairn,
  • Caroline H. Lear,
  • Sindia Sosdian,
  • Trevor Bailey,
  • Simon Beavington-Penney
Michael Grahame Nairn
Cardiff University, Cardiff University

Corresponding Author:nairnmg@cardiff.ac.uk

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Caroline H. Lear
Cardiff University, Cardiff University
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Sindia Sosdian
Cardiff University, Cardiff University
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Trevor Bailey
National Museums and Galleries of Wales, National Museums and Galleries of Wales
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Simon Beavington-Penney
University of Manchester, University of Manchester
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The unipolar icehouse world of the mid-late Miocene is a poorly understood interval in the evolution of Cenozoic climate, and the sparse proxy-based climate reconstructions are associated with large uncertainties. In particular, tropical sea surface temperature (SST) estimates largely rely on the unsaturated alkenone U proxy, which fails to record temperatures higher than 29˚C, and Mg/Ca ratios of poorly preserved foraminifera. We reconstruct robust, absolute, SSTs between 13.5 Ma and 9.5 Ma from the South West Indian Ocean (paleolatitude ~5.5˚S) using Laser-Ablation (LA-) ICP-MS microanalysis of glassy planktic foraminiferal Mg/Ca. Employing this microanalytical technique, and stringent screening criteria, permits the reconstruction of robust paleotemperatures from Mg/Ca thermometry using foraminifera which although glassy, are contaminated by authigenic coatings. Our absolute estimates of 24-31⁰C suggest that SST in the tropical Indian Ocean was relatively constant between 13.5 and 9.5 Ma, similar to those reconstructed from the tropics using the U alkenone proxy. This suggests an interval of enhanced polar amplification between 10 and 7.5 Ma, immediately prior to the global late Miocene Cooling. The mid-to-late Miocene is proposed as a key interval in the transition of the Earth’s climate state towards that of the modern-day.
Mar 2021Published in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology volume 36 issue 3. 10.1029/2020PA004165