Deccan volcanism induced high-stress environment during the Cretaceous–Paleogene transition at Zumaia, Spain: evidence from magnetic, mineralogical and biostratigraphic records

Highlights

• The biostratigraphic record of the basal Danian at Zumaia is incomplete.
• Hiatus and turbidites question the calibration of the Zumaia geological timescale.
• Akaganéite occurrence suggests widespread stratospheric transport of Deccan aerosols.
• Decrease in magnetite content at the KTB suggests environmental changes.
• Mercury anomalies reinforce the link between Deccan volcanism and the KPg mass extinction.

Abstract

We conducted detailed rock magnetic, mineralogical and geochemical (mercury) analyses spanning the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (KPB) at Zumaia, Spain, to unravel the signature of Deccan-induced climate and environmental changes in the marine sedimentary record. Our biostratigraphic results show that Zumaia is not complete, and lacks the typical boundary clay, zone P0 and the base of zone P1a(1) in the basal Danian. Presence of an unusual ∼1m-thick interval spanning the KPB is characterized by very low detrital magnetite and magnetosome (biogenic magnetite) contents and by the occurrence of akaganéite, a very rare mineral on Earth in oxidizing, acidic and hyper-chlorinated environments compatible with volcanic settings. These benchmarks correlate with higher abundance of the opportunist Guembelitria cretacea species. Detrital magnetite depletion is not linked to significant lithological changes, suggesting that iron oxide dissolution by acidification is the most probable explanation. The concomitant decrease in magnetosomes, produced by magnetotactic bacteria at the anoxic–oxic boundary, is interpreted as the result of changes in seawater chemistry induced by surficial ocean acidification. Mercury peaks up to 20–50 ppb are common during the last 100 kyr of the Maastrichtian (zone CF1) but only one significant anomaly is present in the early Danian, which is likely due to the missing interval. Absence of correlation between mercury content (R2 = 0.009) and total organic carbon (R2 = 0.006) suggest that the former originated from the Deccan Traps eruptions. No clear relation between the stratigraphic position of the mercury peaks and the magnetite-depleted interval is observed, although the frequency of the mercury peaks tends to increase close to the KPg boundary. In contrast to Bidart (France) and Gubbio (Italy), where magnetite depletion and akaganéite feature within a ∼50cm-thick interval located 5 cm below the KPg boundary, the same benchmarks are observed in a 1m-thick interval encompassing the KPg boundary at Zumaia. Results reinforce the synchronism of the major eruptions of the Deccan Traps Magmatic Province with the Cretaceous–Paleogene (KPg) mass extinction and provide new clues to better correlate the Deccan imprint of the global sedimentary record.

Font E., Adatte T., Andrade M., Keller G., Bitchong A. M., Carvallo C., Ferreira J., Diogo Z. & Mirão J., 2018. Deccan volcanism induced high-stress environment during the Cretaceous–Paleogene transition at Zumaia, Spain: evidence from magnetic, mineralogical and biostratigraphic records. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 484: 53-66. Article (subscription required).

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