2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 5:00 PM


NICOLO, Micah J., Earth Science, Rice University, 6100 Main St, Houston, TX 77005, DICKENS, Gerald R., Earth Science, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, MS 126, Houston, TX 77005 and HOLLIS, Chris, Institute of Geol and Nuclear Sciences, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, micahn@rice.edu

Extreme global warming and a massive input of carbon to the ocean and atmosphere occurred during a geologically brief interval at ~55.5 Ma. This event, known as the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), has been the focus of numerous studies because it may represent a past analog for current anthropogenic climate change. One outstanding and fundamental issue regarding the PETM is whether it is an isolated event requiring a unique cause, or an extreme case of a geologically common phenomenon. Recent work suggests that the PETM may be the most pronounced of a series of early Paleogene global, transient, hyperthermal events. However this interpretation lacks confirmation by multiple records from the Pacific Ocean, Tethys Ocean, and terrestrial sections. This study aims at finding and documenting one of these hypothesized secondary events, the ELMO, at a Pacific Ocean location. To accomplish this, we intend to detail the lithologic succession at a paleo-shelf section now exposed in an outcrop in the Clarence Valley on the southern New Zealand Island by mapping and generating a high-resolution carbon isotope record from an expanded early Eocene interval. These results add to the emerging body of work regarding the existence of multiple negative carbon isotopic excursions in the early Paleogene, and begin to shed light onto the question of the uniqueness of the PETM and the dynamics of its driving mechanism.