Lake Baikal basin in the continental interior Asia preserved a unique continuous sedimentary archive of the late Cenozoic; large-scale regional environmental changes of the past were recorded in the composition of fossil diatom flora. Here, the Lake Baikal planktonic diatom biostratigraphy is extended over the Plio-Pleistocene transition, it includes 11 new local diatom assemblage zones (LDAZ) for the time interval 1.25-3.6. Ma. The comparison of the parallel BDP-96-1 and BDP-98 drill core records allows constructing the complete diatom biostratigraphic record at the time of the inception of the Northern Hemisphere glaciations; diatom biostratigraphic zones around Matuyama/Gauss paleomagnetic reversal are correlated with individual stages of marine oxygen isotope stratigraphy. Contrary to previous assumptions, the period 2.8-2.6. Ma in Lake Baikal record was characterized not by a prolonged minimum in diatom abundance but by a distinct maximum in the abundance of small-celled diatom taxa Tertiarius baicalensis and Stephanodiscus binderanus et var. hyalinus, which proliferated in the lake during the interval of relatively warm and humid climate.The Lake Baikal diatom biostratigraphic change at around 1.8. Ma occurs only at a species level of the genus Cyclotella. By contrast, around 2.8-2.5. Ma, spectacular appearances and extinctions occurred at a high taxonomic level of genera (including the genera of Tertiarius, Thalassiobeckia and Stepahanopsis) making the biostratigraphic changes around Matuyama/Gauss reversal more prominent. At least three distinct biostratigraphic boundaries are observed: at 2.69. Ma, 2.65. Ma and at 2.46. Ma. None of these boundaries, however, coincides with the paleomagnetic reversal at 2.58. Ma. Thus the new well-resolved Lake Baikal biostratigraphic record points to the difficulty of assigning a single 'golden spike' biostratigraphic boundary around Matuyama/Gauss paleomagnetic reversal in continental Asia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The work on BDP drill cores was implemented as a part of the Baikal Drilling Project supported by the US National Science Foundation grant EAR-9614770, Science and Technology Agency of Japan, and the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. The completion of this study was made possible with support from the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina, and from the US National Science Foundation grant ATM-0402351.
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