Very large release of mostly volcanic carbon during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Gutjahr, Marcus, Ridgwell, Andy, Sexton, Philip F., Anagnostou, Eleni, Pearson, Paul N., Pälike, Heiko, Norris, Richard D., Thomas, Ellen and Foster, Gavin L. (2017) Very large release of mostly volcanic carbon during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum Nature, 548 (7669). pp. 573-577. DOI 10.1038/nature23646.

[img] Text
Gutjahr et.al.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (6Mb) | Contact

Supplementary data:

Abstract

The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum(1,2) (PETM) was a global warming event that occurred about 56 million years ago, and is commonly thought to have been driven primarily by the destabilization of carbon from surface sedimentary reservoirs such as methane hydrates(3). However, it remains controversial whether such reservoirs were indeed the source of the carbon that drove the warming(1,3-5). Resolving this issue is key to understanding the proximal cause of the warming, and to quantifying the roles of triggers versus feedbacks. Here we present boron isotope data-a proxy for seawater pH-that show that the ocean surface pH was persistently low during the PETM. We combine our pH data with a paired carbon isotope record in an Earth system model in order to reconstruct the unfolding carbon-cycle dynamics during the event(6,7). We find strong evidence for a much larger (more than 10,000 petagrams)-and, on average, isotopically heavier-carbon source than considered previously(8,9). This leads us to identify volcanism associated with the North Atlantic Igneous Province(10,11), rather than carbon from a surface reservoir, as the main driver of the PETM. This finding implies that climate-driven amplification of organic carbon feedbacks probably played only a minor part in driving the event. However, we find that enhanced burial of organic matter seems to have been important in eventually sequestering the released carbon and accelerating the recovery of the Earth system(12).

Document Type: Article
Keywords: BORON ISOTOPIC COMPOSITION; EARTH SYSTEM MODEL; ATMOSPHERIC CO2; NORTH-ATLANTIC; DRILLING DISTURBANCE; OCEAN ACIDIFICATION; CLIMATE MODEL; PH; SEAWATER; FORAMINIFERA
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1038/nature23646
ISSN: 0028-0836
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2017 06:56
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 12:32
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/39363

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

More statistics for this item...