Posts Tagged 'paleo'

Prolonged deep-ocean carbonate chemistry recovery after the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum


  • N. truempyi B/Ca can be used to reconstruct the Early Cenozoic deep-water Ω.
  • PETM deep-water Ω recovery is slower than suggested by sedimentary %CaCO3.
  • PETM Ω recovery implies sustained carbon injection into the ocean-atmosphere system.


The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is a hyperthermal event at ∼56 Ma ago, caused by rapid and massive carbon releases into the ocean-atmosphere system. Currently, the PETM ocean acidification is mainly quantified in the surface ocean. By contrast, PETM carbonate chemistry changes of the deep ocean, a larger carbon reservoir, are largely qualitatively constrained by sedimentary calcium carbonate contents (%CaCO3). Here, we revisit a previously proposed method for quantifying Early Cenozoic deep-water carbonate chemistry, using boron to calcium ratios (B/Ca) in extinct benthic foraminifera Nuttallides truempyi (Brown et al., 2011). We show that calibrating core-top B/Ca in the extant relative of N. truempyi against deep-water calcite saturation degree (Ω, Ω = [CO32−] /[CO32−]saturated), rather than calcite saturation state (Δ[CO32−], Δ[CO32−] = [CO32−] – [CO32−]saturated) as originally proposed better reflects Early Cenozoic carbonate chemistry changes. Furthermore, we provide multiple deep-water Ω reconstructions paired with benthic foraminiferal carbon isotopes during the PETM. At two sites, deep-water Ω recovered synchronously with carbon isotopes but lagged the sedimentary %CaCO3 rebound, indicating a slower post-PETM deep-water Ω recovery than previously thought. This may imply that during the PETM recovery phase, carbon could have been injected into the ocean-atmosphere system, despite net carbon loss, over a prolonged period after the initial release. If so, during this period, carbon removal from the ocean via calcite burial on the seafloor in response to enhanced silicate weathering may be weakened, suggesting that more carbon was sequestered via other processes such as those related to organic carbon burial.

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Anthropogenic acidification of surface waters drives decreased biogenic calcification in the Mediterranean Sea

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions directly or indirectly drive ocean acidification, warming and enhanced stratification. The combined effects of these processes on marine planktic calcifiers at decadal to centennial timescales are poorly understood. Here, we analyze size normalized planktic foraminiferal shell weight, shell geochemistry, and supporting proxies from 3 sediment cores in the Mediterranean Sea spanning several centuries. Our results allow us to investigate the response of surface-dwelling planktic foraminifera to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. We find that increased anthropogenic carbon dioxide levels led to basin wide reductions in size normalized weights by modulating foraminiferal calcification. Carbon (δ13C) and boron (δ11B) isotopic compositions also indicate the increasing influence of fossil fuel derived carbon dioxide and decreasing pH, respectively. Alkenone concentrations and test accumulation rates indicate that warming and changes in biological productivity are insufficient to offset acidification effects. We suggest that further increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will drive ongoing reductions in marine biogenic calcification in the Mediterranean Sea.

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Tethyan ocean acidification triggered the end-Triassic mass extinction: new Ca isotopic constraints from the Qiangtang Basin

Oceanic acidification has long been suggested as a potential environmental trigger of marine ecosystem collapse in the Earth’s history. However, evidence for oceanic acidification as an important controlling mechanism of the end-Triassic mass extinction is still limited. Here, the first coupled carbon- and calcium-isotope records across the Triassic-Jurassic transition are provided. The calcium isotope (δ44∕40Ca) profile from the Qiangtang Basin, eastern Tethys exhibits a prominent negative excursion of ∼0.3‰ at the Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) boundary, which is consistent with the onset of negative δ13C excursion, suggesting a possible relationship between large-scale volcanic eruption and calcium isotopic composition. The Ca isotope perturbation during the T-J boundary is interpreted to be triggered by a significant decrease in CaCO3 burial related to CO2-induced ocean acidification. The coupled δ13C and δ44/40Ca records reveal that the carbon cycle perturbations controlled oceanic acidification and decreased carbonate burial. This provides robust evidence for the causal link between oceanic acidification, carbon cycle perturbation in response to Central Atlantic Magmatic Provence (CAMP), and the T-J boundary mass extinction.

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Constraining oceanic carbonate chemistry evolution during the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition: combined benthic and planktonic calcium isotope records from the equatorial Pacific Ocean

The Mesozoic-Cenozoic transition is a period of biogeochemical cycle perturbations. The strongest of them is the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (K-Pg) crisis, characterized by one of the most important extinctions of planktonic marine calcifiers in Earth’s history. One of the primary drivers of this biocalcification crisis is thought to be the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration and ocean acidification triggered by the Chicxulub Impact, and/or Deccan volcanism. Because it reflects changes of the calcium cycle and/or depends on parameters of the carbonate system, the Ca isotope composition of carbonate minerals precipitated from seawater (44/40Ca) offers the potential to reconstruct some of the environmental changes that occurred. Here we present new high-resolution planktonic and benthic foraminiferal 44/40Ca, 18O, 13C, and Sr/Ca records across the K-Pg transition from Shatsky rise (Leg 198; ODP Site 1209, Hole C). The 44/40Ca record displays a succession of rapid shifts of ca. ‰−0.4‰ across the K-Pg transition. They are similar though not identical between the planktonic and benthic records. These shifts took place on a timescale significantly shorter than the residence time of Ca in the oceans and are therefore unlikely to result from global disequilibrium in the oceanic Ca budget. Instead, changes in the fractionation factor between carbonate minerals and seawater in response to changes in precipitation rates may explain the observed 44/40Ca and Sr/Ca record. The benthic and planktonic 44/40Ca records show a late Maastrichtian and an early Danian negative excursions best explained by a succession of episodes of ocean alkalinity increase related to increased continental weathering caused by CO2 emissions from Deccan volcanism and the aftermath of the K-Pg biocalcification crisis. Carbonate compensation via carbonate sediment dissolution, biological carbonate compensation via reduction of biocalcification, and/or an increase in continental weathering must have occurred to offset the excess CO2, ultimately resulting in rapid changes in ocean carbonate chemistry, in combination with reduced surface alkalinity export in response to the early Paleogene planktonic biomineralization crisis.

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A comparison of SNARF-1 and skeletal δ11B estimates of calcification media pH in tropical coral

Coral skeletal boron geochemistry offers opportunities to probe the pH of the calcification media (pHCM) of modern and fossil specimens, to estimate past changes in seawater pH and to explore the biomineralisation response to future ocean acidification. In this research we grew 2 Stylophora pistillata coral microcolonies over glass coverslips to allow analysis of the pH sensitive dye SNARF-1, in the extracellular calcification medium at the growing edge of colonies where the first aragonite crystals are formed, under both light and dark conditions. We use secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to measure the boron isotopic composition (δ11B) of the skeleton close to the growth edge after 2 to 3 days of additional calcification had enlarged the crystals until they joined, generating a continuous sheet of aragonite. Mean skeletal δ11B-pHCM estimates are higher than those by SNARF-1 by 0.35–0.44 pH units. These differences either reflect real variations in the pH of the calcification media associated with each measurement technique or indicate other changes in the biomineralisation process which influence skeletal δ11B. SNARF-1 measures directly the pH of the extracellular calcification medium while skeletal δ11B analyses aragonite potentially formed via both extracellular and intracellular biomineralisation pathways. Analysis of a third coral specimen, also growing on a glass slide but with a 5 cm long branch, indicated good agreement between the δ11B value of the apex of the branch and the skeletal growth edge. The tissues overlying both these regions were transparent indicating they had low symbiont densities. This suggests that the biomineralisation process is broadly comparable between these sites and that studies growing corals over glass slides/coverslips provide representative data for the colony apex.

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Benthic foraminiferal response to the Aptian−Albian carbon cycle perturbation in the Atlantic Ocean

A planktic foraminiferal mass extinction, coeval with the major carbon cycle perturbation of Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE) 1b, occurred at the Aptian−Albian boundary interval (AABI). However, the scarcity of high-resolution records across the AABI hampers an assessment of the impacts of OAE 1b on deep-water benthic foraminiferal assemblages. Here we present high-resolution benthic foraminiferal census counts at Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 511 (southern South Atlantic Ocean) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1049 (western subtropical North Atlantic Ocean) over the AABI. Our records at these bathyal sites provide conclusive evidence that there was no benthic foraminiferal extinction at the Aptian−Albian boundary, although marked reorganizations of relative abundances occurred. During the latest Aptian, cyclic increases in the abundance of infaunal species at both sites point to repeated pulses of reduced bottom water oxygenation and increased organic carbon flux to the ocean floor. Additionally, agglutinated and weakly calcified benthic foraminiferal species were relatively abundant during the latest Aptian, suggesting deep-water carbonate ion depletion in the Atlantic Ocean, although we did not identify signs of carbonate dissolution at these relatively shallow sites. At Site 511, abundances of infaunal foraminifera increased in tandem with the negative carbonate carbon isotope (δ13Ccarb) excursion of the Kilian sub-event within OAE 1b, suggesting decreased bottom water ventilation and increased organic carbon flux to the ocean floor during the sub-event. Bottom water ventilation and carbonate ion saturation improved during the earliest Albian in the Atlantic Ocean, followed by high-amplitude oscillations, as suggested by abundance trends of heavily calcified epifaunal foraminifera at Sites 511 and 1049.

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Methane-derived authigenic carbonates – a case for a globally relevant marine carbonate factory

Precipitation of methane-derived authigenic carbonates (MDAC) is an integral part of marine methane production and consumption, but MDAC’s relative significance to the global marine carbon cycle is not well understood. Here we provide a synthesis and perspective to highlight MDAC from a global marine carbon biogeochemistry viewpoint. MDAC formation is a result and archive of carbon‑sulfur (C – S) coupling in the shallow sulfatic zone and carbon‑silicon (C – Si) coupling in deeper methanic sediments. MDAC constitute a carbon sequestration of 3.93 Tmol C yr−1 (range 2.34–5.8 Tmol C yr−1) in the modern ocean and are the third-largest carbon burial mechanism in marine sediments. This burial compares to 29% (11–57%) organic carbon and 10% (6–23%) skeletal carbonate carbon burial along continental margins. MDAC formation is also an important sink for benthic alkalinity and, thereby, a potential contributor to bottom water acidification. Our understanding of the impact of MDAC on global biogeochemical cycles has evolved over the past five decades from what was traditionally considered a passive carbon sequestration mechanism in a seep-oasis setting to what is now considered a dynamic carbonate factory expanding from deep sediments to bottom waters—a factory that has been operational since the Precambrian. We present a strong case for the need to improve regional scale quantification of MDAC accumulation rates and associated carbonate biogeochemical parameters, leading to their incorporation in present and paleo‑carbon budgets in the next phase of MDAC exploration.

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Planktic foraminiferal resilience to environmental change associated with the PETM

Carbonate-forming organisms play an integral role in the marine inorganic carbon cycle, yet the links 21 between carbonate production and the environment are insufficiently understood. Carbonate production is driven by the abundance of calcifiers, and the amount of calcite produced by each individual (their size and weight). Here we investigate how foraminiferal carbonate production changes in the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Ocean in response to a 4-5°C warming and a 0.3 surface ocean pH reduction during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). To put these local data into a global context, we apply a trait-based plankton model (ForamEcoGEnIE) to the geologic record for the first time. Our data illustrates negligible change in the assemblage test size and abundance of foraminifers. ForamEcoGEnIE resolves small reductions in size and biomass, but these are short-lived. The response of foraminifersshowsspatial variability linked to a warming-induced poleward migration and suggested differences in nutrient availability between open-ocean and shelf locations. Despite low calcite saturation at high latitudes, we reconstruct stable foraminiferal size-normalised weight. Based on these findings, we postulate that sea surface warming had a greater impact on foraminiferal carbonate production during the PETM than ocean acidification. Changes in the composition of bulk carbonate suggest a higher sensitivity of coccolithophores to environmental change during the PETM than foraminifers.

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500 million years of foraminiferal calcification

Ongoing ocean acidification affects marine calcification, although the scope and magnitude of this impact is essentially unknown. Here, we investigate the evolutionary origin of shell building in foraminifera to understand the long-term interplay between ocean carbon chemistry and calcification. Our analysis of shell chemical composition reveals multiple, independent origins for foraminiferal calcification throughout the Phanerozoic. Differences between orders reflect the different physiological controls employed by foraminifera to take up Ca2+ and inorganic carbon from seawater for CaCO3 precipitation. With the long timespan involved, variability in seawater chemistry provided contrasting environments for calcification to arise, resulting in the diverse calcification strategies that exist today. This, in turn, explains the opposite responses of shell building to carbon perturbations. Our results call for adopting an evolutionary perspective when predicting the impact of perturbations on marine calcification and thereby, on the global carbon cycle.

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Did changes in terrigenous components of deep-sea cherts across the end-Triassic extinction relate to the Central Atlantic magmatic province volcanism?

The end-Triassic mass extinction event (ETE) is considered to be linked with the emplacement of the Central Atlantic magmatic province (CAMP), yet their temporal relation and underlying nature of global environmental and biotic changes remain controversial. A drastic radiolarian faunal turnover was associated with deep-sea acidification and changes in the chemical composition of pelagic terrigenous components, which were interpreted as the results of increased CAMP-derived material, such as Fe2O3/Al2O3, MgO/Al2O3, and SiO2/Al2O3, without statistical tests. Here we re-examined these CAMP-like signatures in terms of changes in the chemical composition of the Triassic-Jurassic pelagic deep-sea chert succession in Japan. Our newly compiled dataset suggests that changes in Fe2O3/Al2O3 and MgO/Al2O3 across the ETE were not significant, and thus they may not be appropriate proxies for CAMP-derived material potentially due to the dissolution of iron by ocean acidification and the formation of chlorite during the diagenesis, respectively. Decreased SiO2/Al2O3 was also considered to have been reflected in increased CAMP-related dust flux and/or decreased biosiliceous productivity, but a slight increase in Al2O3/TiO2 ratio (a biosiliceous productivity proxy) and an increase in shale bed thickness (dust flux proxy) across the radiolarian ETE implies the increased eolian dust flux rather than decreased productivity. Besides, statistically significant Na-enrichment at the radiolarian ETE level might be related to the CAMP volcanism and/or associated changes in the source areas of eolian dust.

Continue reading ‘Did changes in terrigenous components of deep-sea cherts across the end-Triassic extinction relate to the Central Atlantic magmatic province volcanism?’

A glimpse into the climate, seasonality, hydrological cycle, carbonate chemistry and marine ecosystem shift of the pre-Petm and the Petm using Ncar Cesm1.2

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~56 my ago, 170,000y event) is characterized by a negative δ13C excursion into the atmosphere. This event caused global temperature to increase by about 5-6 °C, followed by climate responses such as marine acidification, ocean stratification, shoaling of calcite compensation depth (CCD), stronger hydrological cycle, and significant changes in marine ecosystems. It is one of the very few analogies of today’s global warming climate and thus is valuable to study. It still holds much potential for research, including using the state-of-the-art model CESM1.2. Proxy records are limited due to the nature of geological preservation and tectonic evolution. Modeling and simulations can provide insights to supplement the limited proxy records research.  Here, we explore the seasonality, hydrological cycles, and controlling factors of their changes from pre-PETM to the PETM in the first paper; the ability of CESM1.2 to simulate carbonate chemistry, changes in lysocline and CCD in the Atlantic Ocean in the second paper; and the shift of phytoplankton functional groups, using the same preferendum to capture first-hand reactions to environmental changes, from pre-industrial pCO2 to pre-PETM in the third paper. All papers use CESM1.2 simulation results with or without BEC. Our results show that from pre-PETM to PETM, seasonality increases in mid-latitude continental interiors and decreases in high and low latitudes, along with globally enhanced moisture transfer in hydrological cycles. The main controlling factors of these areas are snow-albedo effect, soil moisture, and precipitation. CESM1.2 and ocean Biogeochemical (BGC) Elemental Cycling (BEC) can simulate the changes of carbonate chemistry of the Atlantic Ocean, with certain modifications in the code base and without the need of extra models. There are noticeable and significant changes in chlorophyll, nutrient and NPP from PETM in pre-industrial pCO2 and pre-PETM, but distinct variations from pre-industrial and PETM in pre-industrial pCO2 simulations.  Proxy record scarcity is the main limitation of the studies on PETM and should be used with care. In the meantime, machine learning is encouraged for multi-disciplinary research of complicated topics such as carbon chemistry and phytoplankton functional group preferendum and ecosystem dynamics.

Continue reading ‘A glimpse into the climate, seasonality, hydrological cycle, carbonate chemistry and marine ecosystem shift of the pre-Petm and the Petm using Ncar Cesm1.2’

Variations in the Southern Ocean carbonate production, preservation, and hydrography for the past 41, 500 years: evidence from coccolith and CaCO3 records

Changes in ocean alkalinity affect atmospheric pCO2 (i.e., higher alkalinity lowers atmospheric pCO2). Ocean alkalinity is partly determined by sedimentary burial of carbonates, which is primarily controlled by carbonate flux and the degree of deep ocean carbonate saturation. In this study, we investigate the factors determining the coccolith burial in subantarctic sediments and the surface ocean changes in the subtropical South Indian Ocean. The downcore coccolith records from the subantarctic region (SK200/22a) of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean display low coccolith concentration during the glacial period. A possible explanation for this is, 1) the low glacial production of coccolithophores due to the competition from diatoms and 2) dilution by biogenic silica in the glacial sediments. Additionally, reduced carbonate burial owing to the low carbonate saturation of the deep-water accounts for the decline in glacial coccolith concentration. This also explains the low coccolith dissolution index and enrichment of the large dissolution-resistant coccolith species, Coccolithus pelagicus subsp. braarudii in the glacial sediments. The low carbonate saturation is attributed to, 1) the replacement of carbonate saturated, North Atlantic Deep Waters by the undersaturated southern sourced water masses and 2) increased storage of dissolved CO2 in the deep glacial Southern Ocean. Our study suggests that changes in coccolith production and the deep ocean carbonate saturation determine their burial in subantarctic sediments for the last 41,500 years. Other than these changes, the study region also records the changes in the Agulhas Return Current via variation in the proportion of tropical-subtropical coccolith assemblage.

Continue reading ‘Variations in the Southern Ocean carbonate production, preservation, and hydrography for the past 41, 500 years: evidence from coccolith and CaCO3 records’

Increased biogenic calcification and burial under elevated pCO2 during the Miocene: a model-data comparison


Ocean acidification due to anthropogenic CO2 emission reduces ocean pH and carbonate saturation, with the projection that marine calcifiers and associated ecosystems will be negatively affected in the future. On longer time scale, however, recent studies of deep-sea carbonate sediments suggest significantly increased carbonate production and burial in the open ocean during the warm Middle Miocene. Here, we present new model simulations in comparison to published Miocene carbonate accumulation rates to show that global biogenic carbonate production in the pelagic environment was approximately doubled relative to present-day values when elevated atmospheric pCO2 led to substantial global warming ∼13–15 million years ago. Our analysis also finds that although high carbonate production was associated with high dissolution in the deep-sea, net pelagic carbonate burial was approximately 30%–45% higher than modern. At the steady state of the long-term carbon cycle, this requires an equivalent increase in riverine carbonate alkalinity influx during the Middle Miocene, attributable to enhanced chemical weathering under a warmer climate. Elevated biogenic carbonate production resulted in a Miocene ocean that had carbon (dissolved inorganic carbon) and alkalinity (total alkalinity) inventories similar to modern values but was poorly buffered and less saturated in both the surface and the deep ocean relative to modern.

Key Points

  • Pelagic carbonate production during the warm Middle Miocene was approximately doubled relative to present-day values
  • Net pelagic carbonate burial of the Middle Miocene was likely ∼30%–45% higher than modern values
  • The decreases in [urn:x-wiley:08866236:media:gbc21438:gbc21438-math-0001]sw and carbonate production toward the present kept Neogene dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity nearly constant despite a global pCO2 decrease
Continue reading ‘Increased biogenic calcification and burial under elevated pCO2 during the Miocene: a model-data comparison’

Analysis of the environmental impacts affecting Cambrian reef building and carbonate settings during the Miaolingian and Furongian epochs: a hypothesis for consideration


  • Miaolingian and Furongian reefs are understudied compared to adjacent intervals.
  • Fossil occurrences do not show persistent low diversity through the later Cambrian.
  • Low-Mg calcite skeletons are common, but more variable in abundance.
  • Favorable reef environments were present asynchronously in the later Cambrian.
  • Combination of anoxia and regression prevented metazoan reefs in the later Cambrian.


The Miaolingian and Furongian epochs of the Cambrian period have been identified as a time of limited metazoan reef development. The aim of this paper is to improve understanding of the biological and geochemical conditions that affected reefs during this interval, and to propose a hypothesis for understanding why metazoan reef development was inhibited. To address these issues, a global dataset of fossil occurrences (N = 25,307) spanning Cambrian Stage 4 to the early Ordovician (Tremadocian) was extracted from the Paleobiology Database, Paleoreef Database, and a review of the primary literature. Findings show that the proportion of reefs constructed by metazoans fell from 40% in the Wuliuan age to 0% in the Drumian age, with reefs being overwhelmingly dominated by microbial ecosystems through the remainder of the Cambrian. The proportion of skeletal material constructed from carbonate fell from 85% in the Wuliuan age to 63% in the Drumian age across all the fossil occurrence data, before recovering. These findings suggest that environmental conditions may have not been favorable to carbonate organisms, but this does not fully explain the prolonged reduction of metazoans within reefs throughout this interval. A hypothesis proposed here is that Miaolingian to Furongian metazoan reef abundances were low because of two factors: (1) shallow water anoxia – and other factors such as elevated temperatures and ocean acidification – caused the extinction of metazoan reef builders in the late-early Cambrian and (2) deep water anoxia and marine regression, resulted in a loss of habitat. These inhibiting conditions were not necessarily concurrent but are inferred to have collectively suppressed the growth of metazoan reefs until the Early Ordovician when more shelf space for new reef development occurred. This hypothesis provides a first step in exploration of these conditions during the middle and late Cambrian and for reef development in general.

Continue reading ‘Analysis of the environmental impacts affecting Cambrian reef building and carbonate settings during the Miaolingian and Furongian epochs: a hypothesis for consideration’

Reduction in size of the calcifying phytoplankton Calcidiscus leptoporus to environmental changes between the Holocene and modern Subantarctic Southern Ocean

The Subantarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean plays a disproportionally large role on the Earth system. Model projections predict rapid environmental change in the coming decades, including ocean acidification, warming, and changes in nutrient supply which pose a serious risk for marine ecosystems. Yet despite the importance of the Subantarctic Zone, annual and inter-annual time series are extremely rare, leading to important uncertainties about the current state of its ecosystems and hindering predictions of future response to climate change. Moreover, as the longest observational time series available are only a few decades long, it remains unknown whether marine pelagic ecosystems have already responded to ongoing environmental change during the industrial era. Here, we take advantage of multiple sampling efforts – monitoring of surface layer water properties together with sediment trap, seafloor surface sediment and sediment core sampling – to reconstruct the modern and pre-industrial state of the keystone calcifying phytoplankton Calcidiscus leptoporus, central to the global marine carbonate cycle. Morphometric measurements reveal that modern C. leptoporus coccoliths are 15% lighter and 25% smaller than those preserved in the underlying Holocene-aged sediments. The cumulative effect of multiple environmental drivers appears responsible for the coccolith size variations since the Last Deglaciation, with warming and ocean acidification most likely playing a predominant role during the industrial era. Notably, extrapolation of our results suggests a future reduction in cell and coccolith size which will have a negative impact on the efficiency of the biological pump in the Southern Ocean through a reduction of carbonate ballasting. Lastly, our results tentatively suggest that C. leptoporus coccolith size could be used as a palaeo-proxy for growth rate. Future culture experiments will be needed to test this hypothesis.

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Explosive volcanism periodicity past cycles record within the last 0.8 Mya evidenced by tephra and benthic foraminifera of IODP Hole U1485AA (Exp. 363 WPWP)

Volcanic eruptions with increase in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases are responsible for the extinction of many species because of decreased pH and carbonate availability which creates ocean acidification. Here we show how benthic foraminifera have evolved, by studying sediments from U1485A (1145 m water depth) core in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) collected during IODP Expedition 363 in the Western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP), one of the warmest marine waters of the world. High-stressed environments dominated by low diversity of opportunistic species after volcanic activity was detected by the presence of tephra and volcanic ashes within the last 0.8 Mya. The decrease in the diversity patterns show an inverse correlation to the presence of tephra and ash right after Pleistocene volcanic eruptions in the past. Deep-water fauna is dominated by Cibicidoides pachiderma, from the early Oligocene through the Pleistocene, Uvigerina hispida from early Miocene through Pleistocene, U. prosbocidae from late Oligocene through Pleistocene, and an outer neritic upper bathyal Uvigerina mediterranea from high salinities, warm waters, low dissolved oxygen, and high organic matter. Bolivinita quadrilatera characteristic of 200-500m depth, Bolivina robusta from 3 to 900m, and the Rotalinoides compressiusculus, a shallow warm water species, from 2-37m depth show higher diversity peaks in interglacial cycles. High-stress conditions with mass extinction after volcanic eruptions leads to enhanced weathering, global warming and cooling afterwards, and ocean acidification, resulting in a crisis in the marine environment in terms of carbonate. Diversity gradients suggested that foraminiferal species responded to the cyclic pulses of volcanic eruptions, and its unstable ecological conditions created by the increase in the temperature and CO2. Here we show that tephra layers and ash record a periodicity of explosive volcanism within the last 0.8 Myr maintaining a strong 100 kyr periodicity, and that earth’s orbital cycles might trigger peaks of volcanic eruptions 41,000-year cycle.

Continue reading ‘Explosive volcanism periodicity past cycles record within the last 0.8 Mya evidenced by tephra and benthic foraminifera of IODP Hole U1485AA (Exp. 363 WPWP)’

The Paleocene-Eocene transition in the Gulf of Guinea: evidence of the Petm in the Douala Basin, Cameroon

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was identified for the first time in two sections (Bongue and Dibamba) from the Douala sub-basin located in the Gulf of Guinea, Cameroon. This discovery was based on a multi-disciplinary approach including benthic and planktic foraminifera, ostracods, major and trace elements, mercury, carbon stable isotope (δ13C values), total organic carbon (TOC), whole-rock and clay mineralogy. A combination of lithology, microfossil assemblage, and carbon isotope data indicate zone P5 and the top of the Paleocene enabling the definition of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (PEB). A negative carbon-isotope excursion (CIE) spanning from the uppermost Paleocene deposits to the earliest Eocene sediments (PETM interval) shows a shift in δ13Corg values of 1.5 ‰ in Bongue and 3.0 ‰ in Dibamba. In both sections, this interval is affected by widespread acidification, as revealed by carbonate dissolution and microfossil preservation (i.e., species are dwarfed, broken, thin shelled, and with holes). The very low carbonate content and the scarcity of microfauna indicate the severity of acidification during the PETM, especially in the early Eocene where only one species was identified (Igorina broedermanni). Mercury anomalies, TOC contents, and trace element concentration ratios, point to volcanic activity linked to the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL) intrusive magma, and a decrease in productivity prior to the PETM. In addition to climate change, our geochemical and mineralogical data support the hypothesis that other environmental perturbations such as an increase in productivity and detrital input, as well as a decrease in bottom water oxygenation occurred during the PETM in the Douala sub-basin.

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Calcium isotopes reveal shelf acidification on southern Neotethyan margin during the Smithian-Spathian boundary cooling event

The Smithian-Spathian transition of the late Early Triassic was a critical period of environmental and biological upheavals, following the end-Permian mass extinction. Changes in carbonate deposition during this period have been attributed to intensified upwelling along shelf margins, but relevant studies are scarce. Here, we present calcium isotopes of bulk marine carbonate (δ44/40Cacarb) from a Smithian–Spathian boundary (SSB) succession (Guryul Ravine section, Kashmir) on the southern margin of the Neo-Tethys. Our smoothed δ44/40Cacarb curve reveals a ~ 0.2‰ negative shift (from ~ − 1.1‰ to ~ − 1.3‰) across the SSB, concurrent with a ~ +10‰ shift in δ13Ccarb. While increased Ca isotopic fractionation could play a role, we specifically examine potential impacts due to changes in marine Ca fluxes. Using a Ca-cycle mass balance model, we explore scenarios of decreased carbonate burial flux (Fcarb), decreased riverine flux (Friv), and a combination of these processes. The modeling suggest that a pulse decrease in Fcarb by 40% over ~0.06 Myr match the negative shift in δ44/40Cacarb at Guryul Ravine. We infer that this decrease was likely related to intensified upwelling of acidic deep seawater due to invigorated global-oceanic circulation during the SSB cooling event. We suggest that the regionally diverse excursions in δ44/40Cacarb in the Tethyan region could be attributed to spatially varied upwellings in the shelf margin. The upwelling of acidic and anoxic deep seawater may have driven the second-order extinction of ammonoids and conodonts at the beginning of the SSB cooling event.

Continue reading ‘Calcium isotopes reveal shelf acidification on southern Neotethyan margin during the Smithian-Spathian boundary cooling event’

Sr/Ca in foraminiferal calcite as a proxy for calcifying fluid composition

Foraminifera are unicellular organisms that inhabit the oceans. They play an important role in the global carbon cycle and record valuable paleoclimate information through the uptake of trace elements such as strontium (Sr) into their calcitic (CaCO3) shells. Understanding how foraminifera control their internal fluid composition to make CaCO3 is important for predicting their response to ocean acidification and for reliably interpreting the chemical and isotopic compositions of their shells. Here, we model foraminiferal calcification and strontium partitioning in the benthic foraminifera Cibicides wuellerstorfi and Cibicidoides mundulus based on insights from inorganic calcite experiments. The model reconciles inter-ocean and taxonomic differences in benthic foraminifer Sr/Ca partitioning relationships and enables us to reconstruct the composition of the calcifying fluid. We find that Sr partitioning and mineral growth rates of foraminiferal calcite are not significantly affected by changes in external seawater pH (within 7.8–8.1) and [DIC] (within 2100–2300 µmol/kg) due to a regulated calcite saturation state at the site of shell formation. Such homeostasis of the calcifying fluid could explain why foraminifera have been resilient to changes in ocean carbonate chemistry for more than 500 million years. Nevertheless, our model indicates that past foraminiferal DSr values were lower than its modern value due to overall lower ocean pH and higher seawater temperature during the early and middle Cenozoic.

Continue reading ‘Sr/Ca in foraminiferal calcite as a proxy for calcifying fluid composition’

Calcification response of planktic foraminifera to environmental change in the western Mediterranean Sea during the industrial era (update)

The Mediterranean Sea sustains a rich and fragile ecosystem currently threatened by multiple anthropogenic impacts that include, among others, warming, pollution, and changes in seawater carbonate speciation associated to increasing uptake of atmospheric CO2. This environmental change represents a major risk for marine calcifiers such as planktonic foraminifera, key components of pelagic Mediterranean ecosystems and major exporters of calcium carbonate to the sea floor, thereby playing a major role in the marine carbon cycle. In this study, we investigate the response of planktic foraminifera calcification in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea on different timescales across the industrial era. This study is based on data from a 12-year-long sediment trap record retrieved in the in the Gulf of Lions and seabed sediment samples from the Gulf of Lions and the promontory of Menorca. Three different planktic foraminifera species were selected based on their different ecology and abundance: Globigerina bulloidesNeogloboquadrina incompta, and Globorotalia truncatulinoides. A total of 273 samples were weighted in both sediment trap and seabed samples.

The results of our study suggest substantial different seasonal calcification patterns across species: G. bulloides shows a slight calcification increase during the high productivity period, while both N. incompta and G. truncatulinoides display a higher calcification during the low productivity period. The comparison of these patterns with environmental parameters indicate that controls on seasonal calcification are species-specific. Interannual analysis suggests that both G. bulloides and N. incompta did not significantly reduce their calcification between 1994 and 2005, while G. truncatulinoides exhibited a constant and pronounced increase in its calcification that translated in an increase of 20 % of its shell weight. The comparison of these patterns with environmental data reveals that optimum growth conditions affect positively and negatively G. bulloides and G. truncatulinoides calcification, respectively. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have a positive influence on N. incompta and G. truncatulinoides calcification, while carbonate system parameters appear to affect positively the calcification of three species in the Gulf of Lions throughout the 12-year time series.

Finally, comparison between sediment trap data and seabed sediments allowed us to assess the changes of planktic foraminifera calcification during the late Holocene, including the pre-industrial era. Several lines of evidence indicate that selective dissolution did not bias the results in any of our data sets. Our results showed a weight reduction between pre-industrial and post-industrial Holocene and recent data, with G. truncatulinoides experiencing the largest weight loss (32 %–40 %) followed by G. bulloides (18 %–24 %) and N. incompta (9 %–18 %). Overall, our results provide evidence of a decrease in planktic foraminifera calcification in the western Mediterranean, most likely associated with ongoing ocean acidification and regional SST trends, a feature consistent with previous observations in other settings of the world’s oceans.

Continue reading ‘Calcification response of planktic foraminifera to environmental change in the western Mediterranean Sea during the industrial era (update)’

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