Stable isotope stratigraphy and larger benthic foraminiferal extinctions in the Melinau Limestone, Sarawak

Laura J. Cotton*, Paul N. Pearson, Willem Renema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Important long-ranging groups of larger benthic foraminifera (LBF) are known to have become extinct during a period of global cooling and climate disruption at the Eocene-Oligocene transition (EOT) but the precise timing and mechanisms are uncertain. Recent study showed unexpectedly that the LBF extinction in Tanzania occurs very close to the Eocene/Oligocene boundary, as recognised by the extinction of the planktonic foraminiferal Family Hantkeninidae, rather than at the later period of maximum global ice growth and sea-level fall, as previously thought. Here we investigate the same phase of extinction in the Melinau Limestone of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, Malaysia one of the most complete carbonate successions spanning the Eocene to Lower Miocene. Assemblages of LBF from the Melinau Limestone were studied extensively by Geoffrey Adams during the 1960s-80s, confirming a major extinction during the EOT, but the section lacked independent means of correlation. By analysing rock samples originally studied by Adams and now in the Natural History Museum, London, we provide new bulk stable isotope (δ13C and δ18O) records. This enables us to identify, albeit tentatively, the level of maximum stable isotope excursion and show that the LBF extinction event in the Melinau Limestone occurs below this isotope excursion, supporting the results from Tanzania and indicating that the extinction of LBF close to the Eocene/Oligocene boundary may be a global phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue numberPA
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2014


  • EOT
  • Extinction
  • Isotopes
  • Larger foraminifera
  • Melinau
  • Sarawak


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