Northeastern Section - 57th Annual Meeting - 2022

Paper No. 46-1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


CEPIN, Emily, DE PALMA, Maurizia, BENJAMIN, Samantha, CALDERÓN CONVERS, Liliana and CUI, Ying, Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University: Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, 1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~56Ma) was a period characterized by a significant carbon cycle perturbation, high global temperatures, and is commonly cited as the most analogous case study to contemporary global warming. There is significant evidence that suggests that large amounts of carbon emissions can impact global climate. The use of black carbon isotopes (δ13C) could help shed light on carbon emissions present during the PETM. Black Carbon (BC) samples from the Kuzigongsu section in the Tarim Basin of the eastern Tethys Ocean indicate incomplete combustion of organic matter in the study area, which was the expected consequence of global warming throughout the PETM. While some believe the incomplete combustions occurred in the form of wildfires, there is not enough evidence to fully support the theory. The BC isotope data that we produced show that the combustion events before the PETM would have been influenced by an older source of organic matter rather than wildfires. The pattern of BC isotopes during the PETM suggests that the main source of BC found in the samples was a combustion of living biomass, which would have occurred as a result of climate change. BC isotopes can help determine the extent of climate change that occurred throughout the PETM, which can then be compared to the factors driving the present contemporary climate crisis.


Moore EA, Kurtz AC. Black carbon in Paleocene–Eocene boundary sediments: A test of biomass combustion as the PETM trigger. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 2008, 267(1-2): 147-152.

  • Emily Cepin GSA 2022 Black Carbon Isotopes From the Eastern Tethys Across the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum Final Version.pdf (1.4 MB)