Paper No. 220-2
The PETM was a period of abrupt climate change ~55.5 million years ago, that consisted of atmospheric and oceanic CO2
release, global warming, ocean acidification and changes to hydrological and vegetation patterns. Despite much study, high resolution records of changes over the onset of the PETM, and regional expressions of these climatic changes, are still needed (McInerney & Wing, 2011; Kender et al. 2012). In this study we present geochemical (stable isotopic, elemental, organic) and micropalaeontological environmental proxies from sediment cores in the south-central North Sea region, detailing a δ13
record that encompasses the entire PETM carbon isotope excursion (CIE) in high resolution and great detail. At the CIE onset, sediments became laminated indicating the rapid development of an anoxic North Sea–Arctic region shortly after initial carbon release. Profound vegetation changes can be traced across the North Sea region, which include a shift from dominant gymnosperm pollen to angiosperm. Of interest are ephemeral fluctuations in δ13
C and %TOC before the CIE, which may be related to regional changes associated with the trigger for the PETM itself.
(1) Kender, S., Stephenson, M.H., Riding, J.B., Leng, M.J., Knox, R, W.O’B., Peck, V.L., Kendrick, C.P., Ellis, M.A., Vane, C.H., Jamieson, R., 2012. Marine and terrestrial environmental changes in NW Europe preceding carbon release at the Paleocene–Eocene transition. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 108–120.
(2) McInerney, F.A., Wing, S.L., 2011. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum: A Perturbation of Carbon Cycle, Climate, and Biosphere with Implications for the Future. Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 39, 489–516.