A NEW HIGH-RESOLUTION CONTINENTAL RECORD OF THE PALEOCENE-EOCENE BOUNDARY CARBON ISOTOPE EXCURSION FROM MAMMALIAN TOOTH ENAMEL
Carbon isotope values in the tooth enamel ( δ13CE) of mammalian herbivores reflect δ13C values of dietary vegetation, and can be used to track isotopic changes in local vegetation. Carbon isotope values in vegetation reflect primarily values of atmospheric carbon, although they are also influenced by environmental conditions. Thus, δ13CE can be used to track broad isotopic changes during the CIE. We present a composite isotopic curve based on δ13CE values from 214 mammal teeth representing 16 species classified in 10 genera. Teeth were collected over an area of several km2 and tied to a composite stratigraphic section using marker beds. The base of the CIE (0 m level) is well defined by a large negative shift in δ13CE of ~4.1‰. This is similar to a mean shift in δ13C of ~4.5‰ in n-alkanes from Cabin Fork, suggesting that both proxies track mean δ13C plant values. Mean δ13CE values remain low (<-14.0‰) for the first ~32 m of section, with the most negative values occurring at ~13 m. A shift to more positive values occurs at ~36 m and the excursion appears to be largely over by ~40 m. Mean δ13CE values remain more negative than late Paleocene values, however, even at 50 m. Decreases in mammalian body sizes occur in the CIE and a shift to larger body sizes occurs just after the 35 m level as the CIE wanes. This study demonstrates that carbon isotope values in mammalian tooth enamel are a useful tool for tracking isotopic changes in local vegetation, which reflect changes in the global carbon cycle.