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Warming, euxinia and sea level rise during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum on the Gulf Coastal Plain: implications for ocean oxygenation and nutrient cycling
Sluijs, A.; van Roij, L.; Harrington, G.J.; Schouten, S.; Sessa, J.A.; LeVay, L.J.; Reichart, G.-J.; Slomp, C.P. (2014). Warming, euxinia and sea level rise during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum on the Gulf Coastal Plain: implications for ocean oxygenation and nutrient cycling. Clim. Past 10: 1421-1439. hdl.handle.net/10.5194/cp-10-1421-2014
In: Climate of the Past. Copernicus: Göttingen. ISSN 1814-9324, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Sluijs, A.
  • van Roij, L.
  • Harrington, G.J.
  • Schouten, S., more
  • Sessa, J.A.
  • LeVay, L.J.
  • Reichart, G.-J., more
  • Slomp, C.P.

Abstract
    The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum(PETM, ?56 Ma) was a ?200 kyr episode of globalwarming, associated with massive injections of 13C-depletedcarbon into the ocean–atmosphere system. Although climatechange during the PETM is relatively well constrained,effects on marine oxygen concentrations and nutrientcycling remain largely unclear. We identify the PETM in asediment core from the US margin of the Gulf of Mexico.Biomarker-based paleotemperature proxies (methylationof branched tetraether–cyclization of branched tetraether(MBT–CBT) and TEX86) indicate that continental air andsea surface temperatures warmed from 27–29 to ?35 ?C,although variations in the relative abundances of terrestrialand marine biomarkers may have influenced these estimates.Vegetation changes, as recorded from pollen assemblages,support this warming.The PETM is bracketed by two unconformities. It overliesPaleocene silt- and mudstones and is rich in angular(thus in situ produced; autochthonous) glauconite grains,which indicate sedimentary condensation. A drop in the relativeabundance of terrestrial organic matter and changesin the dinoflagellate cyst assemblages suggest that risingsea level shifted the deposition of terrigenous material landward.This is consistent with previous findings of eustatic sealevel rise during the PETM. Regionally, the attribution of theglauconite-rich unit to the PETM implicates the dating of aprimate fossil, argued to represent the oldest North Americanspecimen on record.The biomarker isorenieratene within the PETM indicatesthat euxinic photic zone conditions developed, likely seasonally,along the Gulf Coastal Plain. A global data compilationindicates that O2 concentrations dropped in allocean basins in response to warming, hydrological change,and carbon cycle feedbacks. This culminated in (seasonal)anoxia along many continental margins, analogous to moderntrends. Seafloor deoxygenation and widespread (seasonal)anoxia likely caused phosphorus regeneration fromsuboxic and anoxic sediments.We argue that this fueled shelfeutrophication, as widely recorded from microfossil studies,increasing organic carbon burial along many continentalPublished by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union.Warming, euxinia and sea level rise during the PETMmargins as a negative feedback to carbon input and globalwarming. If properly quantified with future work, the PETMoffers the opportunity to assess the biogeochemical effects ofenhanced phosphorus regeneration, as well as the timescaleson which this feedback operates in view of modern and futureocean deoxygenation.

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