Dramatic decrease of pelagic carbonate production by nannoplankton across the Early Toarcian anoxic event (T-OAE)

In this account we present estimates of nannofossil fluxes in four sections and one borehole all belonging to the Early Jurassic western Tethys. This study aims to map the distribution of pelagic carbonate production across the Early Toarcian anoxic event (T-OAE), and to understand which environmental parameters did control such production. Our results indicate important changes in carbonate production by nannoplankton occurring within the western Tethys and its variations through time. Nannofossil fluxes (specimens per m2 per year) are extremely low during the T-OAE in all the studied settings. Higher fluxes are encountered in the westernmost part of the Tethys Ocean before the T-OAE, whilst pelagic carbonate production shifted towards the northern margin of the Tethys after the recovery from anoxic conditions. The dramatic decrease in nannoplankton production during the T-OAE has been interpreted in previous works as a biocalcification crisis related to high pCO2 in the atmosphere/hydrosphere system. Although a high pCO2 may have lowered the carbonate saturation state of Early Jurassic oceans and finally hampered biocalcification, we speculate that the most important effects of CO2 increase were indirect, and affected pelagic producers via changes on climate and sea-level. Namely, it seems that precipitation/evaporation budgets and continental runoff that controlled nutrient levels and salinity in surface oceanic waters were important factors for pelagic biocalcifiers.



Mattioli, E., Pittet, B., Petitpierre, L. & Mailliot, S., 2009. Dramatic decrease of pelagic carbonate production by nannoplankton across the Early Toarcian anoxic event (T-OAE). Global and Planetary Change 65(3-4): 134-145. Article (subscription required).

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