The terminal eocene event and the polish connection

J. A. Van Couvering, Marie Pierre Aubry, W. A. Berggren, J. P. Bujak, C. W. Naeser, T. Wieser

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83 Scopus citations


The Eocene/Oligocene boundary in Europe is marked by major discontinuities in all environments: the "Grande Coupure" in continental mammals; the elimination of semitropical elements from high-latitude floras; the virtually complete replacement of the shallow-marine malacofauna; and an extraordinary downslope excursion of carbonate deposition in deep-ocean basins (drop in the CCD). These phenomena collectively represent the "Terminal Eocene Event" (TEE). In the Carpathian Mountains, the TEE is manifested in the thin but regionally persistent Globigerina Marl, a calcareous unit containing abundant cool-water microplankton that occurs within very thick, siliceous, bathyal flysch sequences. In southern Poland, the marl is of very latest Eocene age, within planktonic foraminifera zone P17, calcareous nannoplankton zone NP19/20, and the zone of the dinoflagellate Rhomdodinium perforatum. Zircons from bentonites bracketing the marl are dated by fission-track analysis; at Polany, two underlying bentonites are 41.7 and 39.8 Ma, and at Znamirowice two overlying bentonites are 34.6 and 28.9 Ma, in sequence. This accords with glauconite K/Ar ages in Western Europe by which the Eo/Oligocene boundary age is estimated at 37-38 Ma. Global correlations indicate that the TEE corresponds to a major glacio-eustatic regression with a duration of about 0.5 Ma, in which a large Antarctic ice cap was formed, the ocean circulation was permanently changed to the psychrospheric condition, and world climate shifted irreversibly towards the modern state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-362
Number of pages42
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1981
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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