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Stable carbon isotope patterns of marine biomarker lipids in the Arctic Ocean during Eocene Thermal Maximum 2
Schoon, P.L.; Sluijs, A.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S. (2011). Stable carbon isotope patterns of marine biomarker lipids in the Arctic Ocean during Eocene Thermal Maximum 2. Paleoceanography 26. dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010PA002028
In: Paleoceanography. American Geophysical Union: Washington, DC. ISSN 0883-8305, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Schoon, P.L., more
  • Sluijs, A.
  • Sinninghe Damsté, J.S., more
  • Schouten, S., more

Abstract
    The middle Paleocene through early Eocene long-term gradual warming was superimposed by several transient warming events, such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) and Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (ETM2). Both events show evidence for extreme global warming associated with a major injection of carbon into the ocean-atmosphere system, but the mechanisms of carbon injection and many aspects of the environmental response are still poorly understood. In this study, we analyzed the concentration and stable carbon isotopic (delta C-13) composition of several sulfur-bound biomarkers derived from marine photoautotrophs, deposited in the Arctic Ocean at similar to 85 degrees N, during ETM2. The presence of sulfur-bound biomarkers across this event points toward high primary productivity and anoxic bottom water conditions. The previously reported presence of isorenieratene derivatives indicates euxinic conditions in the photic zone, likely caused by a combination of enhanced primary productivity and salinity stratification. The negative carbon isotope excursion measured at the onset of ETM2 for several biomarkers, ranges between 3% and 4.5%, much larger than the similar to 1.4% recorded in marine carbonates elsewhere, suggesting substantial enhanced isotopic fractionation by the primary producers likely due to a significant rise in pCO(2). In the absence of biogenic carbonates in the ETM2 section of our core we use coeval planktonic delta C-13 from elsewhere to estimate surface water delta C-13 in the Arctic Ocean and then apply the relation between isotopic fractionation and pCO(2), originally calibrated for haptophyte alkenones, to three selected organic biomarkers (i.e., S-bound phytane, C-35 hopane, and a C-25 highly branched isoprenoid). This yields pCO(2) values potentially in the range of four times preindustrial levels. However, these estimates are uncertain because of a lack of knowledge on the importance of pCO(2) on photosynthetic isotopic fractionation.

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