At the boundary between the Palaeocene and Eocene epochs, about 55 million years ago, the Earth experienced a strong global warming event, the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum1–4. The leading hypothesis to explain the extreme greenhouse conditions prevalent during this period is the dissociation of 1,400 to 2,800gigatonnes of methane from ocean clathrates5,6, resulting in a large negative carbon isotope excursion and severe carbonate dissolution in marine sediments. Possible triggering mechanisms for this event include crossing a threshold temperature as the Earth warmed gradually7, comet impact8, explosive volcanism9,10 or ocean current reorganization and erosion at continental slopes11, whereas orbital forcing has been excluded12. Here we report a distinct carbonate-poor red clay layer in deep-sea cores from Walvis ridge13, which we term the Elmo horizon. Using orbital tuning, we estimate deposition of the Elmo horizon at about 2 million years after the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maxi- mum. The Elmo horizon has similar geochemical and biotic characteristics as the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum, but of smaller magnitude. It is coincident with carbon isotope depletion events in other ocean basins, suggesting that it represents a second global thermal maximum. We show that both events correspond to maxima in the ,405-kyr and ,100-kyr eccentricity cycles that post-date prolonged minima in the 2.25-Myr eccentricity cycle, implying that they are indeed astronomically paced.

Astronomical pacing of late Palaeocene to early Eocene global warming events.

RAFFI, Isabella
2005-01-01

Abstract

At the boundary between the Palaeocene and Eocene epochs, about 55 million years ago, the Earth experienced a strong global warming event, the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum1–4. The leading hypothesis to explain the extreme greenhouse conditions prevalent during this period is the dissociation of 1,400 to 2,800gigatonnes of methane from ocean clathrates5,6, resulting in a large negative carbon isotope excursion and severe carbonate dissolution in marine sediments. Possible triggering mechanisms for this event include crossing a threshold temperature as the Earth warmed gradually7, comet impact8, explosive volcanism9,10 or ocean current reorganization and erosion at continental slopes11, whereas orbital forcing has been excluded12. Here we report a distinct carbonate-poor red clay layer in deep-sea cores from Walvis ridge13, which we term the Elmo horizon. Using orbital tuning, we estimate deposition of the Elmo horizon at about 2 million years after the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maxi- mum. The Elmo horizon has similar geochemical and biotic characteristics as the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum, but of smaller magnitude. It is coincident with carbon isotope depletion events in other ocean basins, suggesting that it represents a second global thermal maximum. We show that both events correspond to maxima in the ,405-kyr and ,100-kyr eccentricity cycles that post-date prolonged minima in the 2.25-Myr eccentricity cycle, implying that they are indeed astronomically paced.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/114531
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