Posts Tagged 'paleo'

Rapid ocean acidification and protracted Earth system recovery followed the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact

Debate lingers over what caused the last mass extinction 66 million years ago, with intense volcanism and extraterrestrial impact the most widely supported hypotheses. However, without empirical evidence for either’s exact environmental effects, it is difficult to discern which was most important in driving extinction. It is also unclear why recovery of biodiversity and carbon cycling in the oceans was so slow after an apparently sudden extinction event. In this paper, we show (using boron isotopes and Earth system modeling) that the impact caused rapid ocean acidification, and that the resulting ecological collapse in the oceans had long-lasting effects for global carbon cycling and climate. Our data suggest that impact, not volcanism, was key in driving end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Continue reading ‘Rapid ocean acidification and protracted Earth system recovery followed the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact’

Reduced continental weathering and marine calcification linked to late Neogene decline in atmospheric CO2

The globally averaged calcite compensation depth has deepened by several hundred metres in the past 15 Myr. This deepening has previously been interpreted to reflect increased alkalinity supply to the ocean driven by enhanced continental weathering due to the Himalayan orogeny during the late Neogene period. Here we examine mass accumulation rates of the main marine calcifying groups and show that global accumulation of pelagic carbonates has decreased from the late Miocene epoch to the late Pleistocene epoch even though CaCO3 preservation has improved, suggesting a decrease in weathering alkalinity input to the ocean, thus opposing expectations from the Himalayan uplift hypothesis. Instead, changes in relative contributions of coccoliths and planktonic foraminifera to the pelagic carbonates in relative shallow sites, where dissolution has not taken its toll, suggest that coccolith production in the euphotic zone decreased concomitantly with the reduction in weathering alkalinity inputs as registered by the decline in pelagic carbonate accumulation. Our work highlights a mechanism whereby, in addition to deep-sea dissolution, changes in marine calcification acted to modulate carbonate compensation in response to reduced weathering linked to the late Neogene cooling and decline in atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide.

Continue reading ‘Reduced continental weathering and marine calcification linked to late Neogene decline in atmospheric CO2’

Evaluating the planktic foraminiferal B/Ca proxy for application to deep time paleoceanography

Highlights

  • Paleocene seawater chemistry affects planktic foraminifer boron/calcium proxy sensitivity.
  • T. sacculifer and O. universa shell boron content is similar to that of Paleogene species.
  • We present a new framework for applying B/Ca calibrations to the early Cenozoic.
  • Our new approach allows application of calibrations from modern species to extinct ones.

Abstract

The Cenozoic Era has been characterized by large perturbations to the oceanic carbon cycle and global climatic changes, but quantifying the magnitude and cause of these shifts is still subject to considerable uncertainty. The boron/calcium (B/Ca) ratio of fossil planktic foraminifera shells is a promising tool for reconstructing surface ocean carbonate chemistry during such events. Previous studies indicate that symbiont-bearing, planktic foraminiferal B/Ca depends on the [B(OH)4− /DIC] ratio of seawater and potentially, when combined with foraminiferal δ11 B proxy reconstructions of B(OH)4− , an opportunity to reconstruct surface ocean DIC in the geologic past. There are, however, two barriers towards interpreting records from the pre-Pleistocene era: (1) changes in seawater major ion chemistry in the past might have affected foraminiferal B/Ca; and (2) modern foraminifera species show variable B/Ca calibration sensitivities that cannot be constrained in now-extinct species. Here we address these challenges with new experiments in which we have cultured modern, symbiont-bearing foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber (pink) and Trilobatus sacculifer in seawater with simulated early Cenozoic seawater chemistry (high [Ca], low [Mg], and low [B]T). We explore mechanisms that can account for the inter-species trends that are observed in foraminiferal B/Ca, and propose a framework that can be used to apply B/Ca calibrations to now-extinct species for reconstructing climate perturbations under varying seawater chemistries.

Continue reading ‘Evaluating the planktic foraminiferal B/Ca proxy for application to deep time paleoceanography’

From greenhouse to icehouse: nitrogen biogeochemistry of an epeiric sea in the context of the oxygenation of the Late Devonian atmosphere/ocean system

Highlights

  • Appalachian Basin shales record contrasting Late Devonian greenhouse/icehouse marine biogeochemistry.
  • Low O2 and low pH precluded nitrification during greenhouse climate.
  • Sediment nitrogen isotope values increased with increasing oxygenation of water column.
  • Greenhouse climate facilitated more intensive recycling of C, N, and P in sediments and water column.

Abstract

The Late Devonian emergence of extensive arborescent terrestrial ecosystems produced changes in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate that resulted in substantial changes to the biogeochemistry of marine ecosystems. The biogeochemistry of nitrogen in epeiric seas was particularly susceptible to alteration because of its dependence upon the series of redox-mediated reactions that comprise the marine N cycle. In order to explore the impact of climate change on N biogeochemistry in a Late Devonian epeiric sea, we sampled a core from the Appalachian Basin that spans the interval from the greenhouse climate at the base of the Famennian period to glacial conditions near its conclusion. Based upon stable isotope analysis of N, C, and S as well as elemental analysis of N, C, P, S, and Fe, we contend that two distinct biogeochemical regimes obtained during the contrasting climates. The greenhouse regime featured low seawater O2 and pH that served to significantly curtail the oxidation of ammonia – i.e. nitrification – resulting in an ammonium-dominated water column and low sediment δ15N values. The greenhouse also featured more extensive recycling of C, N, and P. In contrast, the higher seawater O2 and pH of the icehouse regime permitted nitrification in the water column resulting in a nitrate-dominated system and higher sediment δ15N values. We conclude that nitrification was the key component of the N cycle that differentiated the two climate/biogeochemical regimes.

Continue reading ‘From greenhouse to icehouse: nitrogen biogeochemistry of an epeiric sea in the context of the oxygenation of the Late Devonian atmosphere/ocean system’

The influence of paleo-seawater chemistry on foraminifera trace element proxies and their application to deep-time paleo-reconstructions

The fossilized remains of the calcite shells of foraminifera comprise one of the most continuous and reliable records of the geologic evolution of climate and ocean chemistry. The trace elemental composition of foraminiferal shells has been shown to systematically respond to seawater properties, providing a way to reconstruct oceanic conditions throughout the last 170 million years. In particular, the boron/calcium ratio of foraminiferal calcite (B/Ca) is an emerging proxy for the seawater carbonate system, which plays a major role in regulating atmospheric CO2 and thus Earth’s climate. In planktic foraminifera, previous culture studies have shown that shell B/Ca increases with seawater pH, which is hypothesized to result from increased incorporation of borate ion (B(OH)4 -) at high pH; increasing pH increases the [B(OH)4 -] of seawater. However, further experiments showed that B/Ca responds to both pH and seawater dissolved inorganic carbon concentration (DIC), leading to the hypothesis that B/Ca is driven by the [B(OH)4 -/DIC] ratio of seawater. Because pH (and thus B(OH)4 -) can be determined via the δ11B composition of foraminiferal calcite, B/Ca therefore may provide an opportunity to determine seawater DIC in the geologic past.

Continue reading ‘The influence of paleo-seawater chemistry on foraminifera trace element proxies and their application to deep-time paleo-reconstructions’

Short-term variation of ooid mineralogy in the Triassic-Jurassic boundary interval and its environmental implications: evidence from the equatorial Ghalilah Formation, United Arab Emirates

Highlights

• Provide data from potentially continuous Tr-J carbonate sections

• Provide detailed studies of Tr-J ooids that have been scarcely studied before

• Give more information about Tr-J extinction-recovery scenarios

• Variation of ooid mineralogies serves as a new marker for ocean acidification in the equatorial realm.

Abstract

In the Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) interval, only a few continuous carbonate sections have been reported, and detailed studies about ooids and their significance are scarce. This study focuses on abundant ooids in potentially continuous T-J carbonate sections representing equatorial, shallow marine environments. Mineralogical changes of ooids are proposed as a marker for transitional marine chemistry including carbonate saturation after ocean acidification and provide information about crisis and recovery scenarios for the initial CIE (carbon isotope excursion) and subsequent positive CIE. In the Ghalilah Formation, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Sakhra Member is deposited immediately above the T-J boundary. Based on field work and thin section observation, the Sakhra Member can be divided into three coarsening-upward cycles (in ascending order, named C1–C3), each of which consists of peloidal mudstone/wackestone in the lower part and oolitic packstone/grainstone in the upper part. Petrological observation (thin section, SEM), stable isotope (inorganic carbon and oxygen) and elemental analysis suggest temporal change of original mineralogy from C1 to C3 ooids: from high-Mg calcite in C1 ooids to aragonite in C2 and C3 ooids. The mineralogical change of ooids is possibly related to variations in seawater carbonate saturation. The lower carbonate saturation indicated by C1 ooids reflects a transitional period before recovery from ocean acidification due to massive and rapid release of acidic gases (CO2 and SO2) by CAMP eruptions. Subsequently, from C1 to C3 ooids, seawater gradually experienced increasing carbonate saturation and increasing microbial carbonate precipitation. Increased microbial activities combined with elevated terrestrial influx may have significantly reduced the atmospheric CO2 concentration and restored carbonate saturation, which laid the foundation for full biotic recovery.

Continue reading ‘Short-term variation of ooid mineralogy in the Triassic-Jurassic boundary interval and its environmental implications: evidence from the equatorial Ghalilah Formation, United Arab Emirates’

New constraints on massive carbon release and recovery processes during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Recent geochemical and sedimentological evidence constrains the response of seawater chemistry to carbon injection during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM): foraminiferal boron-based proxy records constrain the magnitude and duration of surface ocean acidification, while new deep sea records document a carbonate compensation depth (CCD) over-shoot during the recovery. Such features can be used to more tightly constrain simulations of the event within carbon cycle models, and thus test mechanisms for carbon release, buffering, and sequestration. We use the LOSCAR carbon cycle model to examine first the onset of, and then recovery from the PETM. We systematically varied the mass, rate, and location of C release along with changes in ocean circulation patterns as well as initial conditions such as pre-event pCO2 and the strength of weathering feedbacks. A range of input parameters produced output that successfully conformed to observational constraints on the event’s onset. However, none of the successful scenarios featured surface seawater aragonite or calcite undersaturation at even peak PETM conditions (in contrast to anthropogenic acidification projections), and most runs featured approximately a doubling of pCO2 relative to pre-event conditions (suggesting a high PETM climate sensitivity). Further runs test scenarios of the body and recovery of the PETM against records of sustained acidification followed by rapid pH recovery in boron records, as well as the timing and depth of the CCD overshoot. Successful scenarios all require a sustained release of carbon over many tens of thousands of years following the onset (comparable to the mass released during the onset) and removal of carbon (likely as burial of organic carbon in addition to elevated chemical weathering rates) during the recovery. This sequence of events is consistent with a short-lived feedback involving the release of 13C-depleted C in response to initial warming followed by its subsequent sequestration during the cooling phase.

Continue reading ‘New constraints on massive carbon release and recovery processes during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’


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