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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 3 | Copyright
Clim. Past, 8, 977-993, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-8-977-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 31 May 2012

Research article | 31 May 2012

Productivity response of calcareous nannoplankton to Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (ETM2)

M. Dedert1, H. M. Stoll2,3, D. Kroon4, N. Shimizu5, K. Kanamaru3, and P. Ziveri1,6 M. Dedert et al.
  • 1Cluster Earth & Climate Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2Dept. de Geologia, Universidad de Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
  • 3Geosciences Department, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA
  • 4School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • 5Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, MA, USA
  • 6ICTA, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Spain

Abstract. The Early Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (ETM2) at ~53.7 Ma is one of multiple hyperthermal events that followed the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~56 Ma). The negative carbon excursion and deep ocean carbonate dissolution which occurred during the event imply that a substantial amount (103 Gt) of carbon (C) was added to the ocean-atmosphere system, consequently increasing atmospheric CO2(pCO2). This makes the event relevant to the current scenario of anthropogenic CO2 additions and global change. Resulting changes in ocean stratification and pH, as well as changes in exogenic cycles which supply nutrients to the ocean, may have affected the productivity of marine phytoplankton, especially calcifying phytoplankton. Changes in productivity, in turn, may affect the rate of sequestration of excess CO2 in the deep ocean and sediments. In order to reconstruct the productivity response by calcareous nannoplankton to ETM2 in the South Atlantic (Site 1265) and North Pacific (Site 1209), we employ the coccolith Sr/Ca productivity proxy with analysis of well-preserved picked monogeneric populations by ion probe supplemented by analysis of various size fractions of nannofossil sediments by ICP-AES. The former technique of measuring Sr/Ca in selected nannofossil populations using the ion probe circumvents possible contamination with secondary calcite. Avoiding such contamination is important for an accurate interpretation of the nannoplankton productivity record, since diagenetic processes can bias the productivity signal, as we demonstrate for Sr/Ca measurements in the fine (<20 μm) and other size fractions obtained from bulk sediments from Site 1265. At this site, the paleoproductivity signal as reconstructed from the Sr/Ca appears to be governed by cyclic changes, possibly orbital forcing, resulting in a 20–30% variability in Sr/Ca in dominant genera as obtained by ion probe. The ~13 to 21% increase in Sr/Ca above the cyclic background conditions as measured by ion probe in dominating genera may result from a slightly elevated productivity during ETM2. This high productivity phase is probably the result of enhanced nutrient supply either from land or from upwelling. The ion probe results show that calcareous nannoplankton productivity was not reduced by environmental conditions accompanying ETM2 at Site 1265, but imply an overall sustained productivity and potentially a small productivity increase during the extreme climatic conditions of ETM2 in this portion of the South Atlantic. However, in the open oceanic setting of Site 1209, a significant decrease in dominant genera Sr/Ca is observed, indicating reduced productivity.

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