|Pelagic sedimentation in modern and ancient oceans|In: Hüneke, H.; Mulder, T. (Ed.) (2011). Deep-sea sediments. Developments in Sedimentology, 63. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISBN 978-0-444-53000-4. xiv, 849 pp., more
In: Developments in Sedimentology. Elsevier: New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0070-4571, more
Pelagic sedimentation; Marine
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In the open ocean pelagic sedimentation occurs at various scales. As a background signal, the everyday process is a rather slow and continuous rain of biogenic debris produced mainly by the planktic flora and fauna in the upper part of the water column. In addition to this, distinct regions of the oceans reveal pronounced, short-term, often seasonal sedimentation pulses following biogenic bloom events, such as the yearly coccolith blooms starting at low latitudes in late spring to early summer and spreading out into higher latitudes during summer and early autumn. A significant portion of this material, consisting of calcareous and siliceous skeletal remains as well as soft organic tissue, reaches the sea floor under the influence of gravity as marine snow and fecal pellets.
This chapter presents an overview of the principal factors that control this pelagic flux through the water column and determine the character and distribution of the resulting deep-sea sediments. All modern biological groups that contribute to the pelagic sedimentation will be discussed from coccolithophorids, planktic foraminifers and pteropods (calcareous oozes) to diatoms, radiolarians and dinoflagellates (opal oozes). It outlines, in addition, the history of ancient pelagic sediment factories since the evolutionary invention of planktic life on Earth and discusses how the biosphere influenced the whole earth system through changes in ocean chemistry and how these changes, in turn, controlled the evolution of marine life.