Pacific Equatorial Transect
- Publisher: Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 320/321, "Pacific Equatorial Age Transect" (Sites U1331–U1338), was designed to recover a continuous Cenozoic record of the paleoequatorial Pacific by coring above the paleoposition of the Equator at successive crustal ages on the Pacific plate. These sediments record the evolution of the paleoequatorial climate system throughout the Cenozoic. As we gained more information about the past movement of plates and when in Earth's history "critical" climate events took place, it became possible to drill an age transect ("flow line") along the position of the paleoequator in the Pacific, targeting important time slices where the sedimentary archive allows us to reconstruct past climatic and tectonic conditions. The Pacific Equatorial Age Transect (PEAT) program cored eight sites from the sediment surface to at or near basement, with basalt aged between 53 and 16 Ma, covering the time period following maximum Cenozoic warmth, through initial major glaciations, to today. The PEAT program allows the reconstruction of extreme changes of the calcium carbonate compensation depth (CCD) across major geological boundaries during the last 53 m.y. A very shallow CCD during most of the Paleogene makes it difficult to obtain well-preserved carbonate sediments during these stratigraphic intervals, but we recovered a unique sedimentary biogenic sediment archive for time periods just after the Paleocene/Eocene boundary event, the Eocene cooling, the Eocene–Oligocene transition, the "one cold pole" Oligocene, the Oligocene–Miocene transition, and the middle Miocene cooling. Together with older Deep Sea Drilling Project and Ocean Drilling Program drilling in the equatorial Pacific, we can also delineate the position of the paleoequator and variations in sediment thickness from ~150°W to 110°W longitude.