Analyses of planktic foraminiferal assemblage data, test morphology, and stable oxygen isotopes from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1304 in the North Atlantic reveal a stepwise regional migration of the oceanic fronts around 0.6 Ma and 0.4 Ma, i.e., during Marine Isotope Stages (MISs) 15 and 11, respectively. Both changes of planktic foraminiferal assemblages and shell carbonate isotopes indicate that the cold Arctic waters in general persisted at IODP Site U1304 from 1.6 to 0.6 Ma (MIS 15), even though the warmer waters originating from the Atlantic waters episodically bathed Site U1304 during the interglacial periods. During the time-interval from ca. 0.6 to 0.4 Ma (MISs 15–11), an alternating dominance of Artic and Atlantic waters at the Site U1304 has been suggested from isotopic evidence. In MIS 11, the dominant planktic foraminiferal species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma experienced a short-term but significant decrease in test size. The test-size change may have been caused by accelerated reproduction in more favorite feeding conditions over the long-lasting interglacial period around the Subarctic Front. This finding is supported by the presence of massive diatoms oozes in the same time-interval. The modern-type glacial/interglacial change of the surface water system established since ca. 0.4 Ma (MIS 11) followed the Mid-Brunhes Event.
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Vol. 25 • No. 4