Stable carbon and oxygen isotope record in the Paleogene La Meseta Formation, Seymour Island, Antarctica
Stable carbon and oxygen isotopic relations have been analysed in brachiopod, gastropod, and bivalve fossils from the La Meseta Formation (Eocene-?early Oligocene), Seymour (Marambio) Island, West Antarctica. The results indicate a shift in δ13C by 6 permil beginning in the middle part of the Unit II of the formation. This shift may imply a change from a largely stratified to a vigorously mixed ocean. Such an interpretation is corroborated by changes in the elemental proportions in the shell material. Alternatively, the carbon isotopic shift may be regarded as reflecting a change in the local depositional enviornment. Such an interpretation agrees with isotopic data from the Weddell Sea, which do not confirm the pattern observed in the La Meseta Formation. In any event, the oxygen isotopic curve does not decline parallel to the carbon curve and may thus imply a considerable climatic cooling event. This effect is so profound that it might be interpreted as evidence for glaciation, especially when taking into account the fact that this phenomenon coincides with the well-known cooling trend throughout the Eocene. If this interpretation is correct, the hypothesized Glaciation may possibly be correlated with the Polonez Glaciation, the largest Cenozoic glaciation known in the Antarctic Peninsula sector. Alternatively, it may be regarded as a local phenomenon, predating development of the icesheet.(Received June 7 1991)
(Accepted June 1 1992)
Key Words: Antarctica; La Meseta Formation; Paleogene; carbon and oxygen isotopes; glaciation.