Extreme warming of tropical waters during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Aze, T.; Pearson, P.N.; Dickson, A.J.; Badger, M.P.S.; Bown, P.R.; Pancost, R.D.; Gibbs, S.J.; Huber, B.T.; Leng, M.J. ORCID:; Coe, A.L.; Cohen, A.S.; Foster, G.L.. 2014 Extreme warming of tropical waters during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Geology, 42 (9). 739-742.

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The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), ca. 56 Ma, was a major global environmental perturbation attributed to a rapid rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Geochemical records of tropical sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) from the PETM are rare and are typically affected by post-depositional diagenesis. To circumvent this issue, we have analyzed oxygen isotope ratios (d18O) of single specimens of exceptionally well-preserved planktonic foraminifera from the PETM in Tanzania (~19°S paleolatitude), which yield extremely low d18O, down to <–5‰. After accounting for changes in seawater chemistry and pH, we estimate from the foraminifer d18O that tropical SSTs rose by >3 °C during the PETM and may have exceeded 40 °C. Calcareous plankton are absent from a large part of the Tanzania PETM record; extreme environmental change may have temporarily caused foraminiferal exclusion.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0091-7613
Date made live: 05 Sep 2014 14:08 +0 (UTC)

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