Ocean history is largely read from deep-sea sediments, using microscopic fossils, notably foraminifers. Ice age fluctuations in the ocean's sediments provided for a new geologic understanding of climate change. The discovery of rapid decay of ice masses at the end of glacial periods was especially important, yielding rates of sea level rise reaching values of 1 to 2 m per century for millennia. Thanks to deep-ocean drilling, the overall planetary cooling trend in the Cenozoic was recognized as occurring in three large steps. The first step is at the Eocene–Oligocene boundary and is marked by a great change in sedimentation patterns; the second is in the middle Miocene, associated with a major pulse in the buildup of Antarctic ice masses and the intensification of upwelling regimes; and the third is within the late Pliocene and led into the northern ice ages. Evolution in the sea is linked to these various steps.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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