Site 1217 (16°52.02´N, 138°06.00´W; 5342 meters below sea level [mbsl]; Fig. F1) is one of seven sites drilled to target upper Paleocene crust along a latitudinal transect during Leg 199 and will be used to investigate paleoceanographic processes in the northern tropical early Eocene Pacific Ocean. Site 1217 is situated ~1° north of the Clarion Fracture Zone on abyssal hill topography typical of the central Pacific. Based on magnetic lineations, basement age at Site 1217 should be in magnetic Anomaly C25r or ~57 Ma (Cande et al., 1989; timescale of Cande and Kent, 1995). The Cenozoic history of sedimentation in this region was poorly constrained prior to Leg 199 drilling because the nearest drill site (Deep Sea Drilling Project [DSDP] Site 162) is situated ~300 km south and west on 48-Ma crust. Based on data from this early rotary-cored hole, magnetic anomaly maps, a shallow-penetration piston core near Site 1217 (EW9709-4PC), and seismic profiling (Fig. F2), we expected the sedimentary sequence at Site 1217 to comprise a relatively thick (25 to 35 m thick) section of red clays overlying a radiolarian ooze and a basal carbonate section with possible chert near basement (estimated total depth ~125-150 meters below seafloor [mbsf]) deposited when the site was near the ridge crest in the late Paleocene and early Eocene. <br/><br/> Site 1217 was chosen because it is anticipated to have been located just outside of the equatorial region at 56 Ma, ~5°N, 106°W based upon a fixed hotspot model (Gripp and Gordon, 1990, for 0- to 5-Ma Pacific hotspot rotation pole; Engebretson et al., 1985, for older poles). On the same basis at 40 Ma, the site was located at ~8°N, 111°W. Thus, Site 1217 should help define the paleoceanography of the northern tropical Pacific, in particular locating the ancient North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC) region. General circulation-model experiments for the early Eocene (see Huber, this volume) suggest that the NECC was a well-developed current during this time period. <br/><br/> Other paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic objectives of drilling the sedimentary sequence anticipated at Site 1217 are as follows: (1) to help define the shift in the Intertropical Convergence Zone through the Paleogene by following the change in eolian dust composition and flux through time (red clays); (2) to help constrain the middle-late Eocene calcite compensation depth (CCD); and (3) to sample the Paleocene/Eocene (P/E) boundary, one of the most climatologically critical intervals of Cenozoic time. Recovery of deep-sea sediments from this time interval during Leg 199 is a high priority because the P/E boundary has never before been sampled in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. <br/><br/> Results from Site 1217 will also provide important information to test whether there was significant motion of the Hawaiian hotspot, with respect to the Earth's spin axis during the early Cenozoic. At 56 Ma, the backtracked location based upon a hotspot reference frame is ~5°N, 106°W, and at 40 Ma is ~8°N, 106°W. If significant hotspot motion or true polar wander occurred since 57 Ma (Petronotis et al., 1994), this drill site could have been much nearer to the equator
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