Rapidly deposited Thalassionema-Thalassiothrix pennate diatom oozes previously have been described in Upper Miocene-Lower Pliocene sediment beneath the frontal boundary of the eastern equatorial Pacific. Here we document a new occurrence of Thalassionema-Thalassiothrix ooze in Upper Miocene Lower Pliocene sediment beneath the frontal boundary of the subarctic North Pacific. The ooze is a 6 m interval of siliceous sediment at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) sites 885/886 that was rapidly deposited between approximately 5.0 and 5.9 Ma. Bulk sediment in this interval may contain greater than 85% pennate diatom tests. There are also abundant laminae and pockets that are composed entirely of Thalassionema and Thalassiothrix diatoms. The presence of a rapidly deposited ooze dominated by pennate diatoms indicates unusual past conditions in the overlying surface waters. Time coincident deposition of such oozes at two distinct frontal boundary locations of the Pacific suggests that the unusual surface water conditions were causally linked to large-scale oceanographic change. This same oceanographic change most likely involved (1) addition of nutrients to the ocean, or (2) redistribution of nutrients within the ocean. The occurrence and origin of pennate diatom oozes may be a key component to an integrative understanding of late Neogene paleoceanography and biogeochemical cycling.
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A rapidly deposited pennate diatom ooze in Upper Miocene-Lower Pliocene sediment beneath the North Pacific polar front