A Warm, Stratified, and Restricted Labrador Sea Across the Middle Eocene and Its Climatic Optimum.
ABSTRACT: Several studies indicate that North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation might have initiated during the globally warm Eocene (56-34 Ma). However, constraints on Eocene surface ocean conditions in source regions presently conducive to deep water formation are sparse. Here we test whether ocean conditions of the middle Eocene Labrador Sea might have allowed for deep water formation by applying (organic) geochemical and palynological techniques, on sediments from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 647. We reconstruct a long-term sea surface temperature (SST) drop from ~30°C to ~27°C between 41.5 to 38.5 Ma, based on TEX86. Superimposed on this trend, we record ~2°C warming in SST associated with the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO; ~40 Ma), which is the northernmost MECO record as yet, and another, likely regional, warming phase at ~41.1 Ma, associated with low-latitude planktic foraminifera and dinoflagellate cyst incursions. Dinoflagellate cyst assemblages together with planktonic foraminiferal stable oxygen isotope ratios overall indicate low surface water salinities and strong stratification. Benthic foraminifer stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios differ from global deep ocean values by 1-2‰ and 2-4‰, respectively, indicating geographic basin isolation. Our multiproxy reconstructions depict a consistent picture of relatively warm and fresh but also highly variable surface ocean conditions in the middle Eocene Labrador Sea. These conditions were unlikely conducive to deep water formation. This implies either NADW did not yet form during the middle Eocene or it formed in a different source region and subsequently bypassed the southern Labrador Sea.
Project description:The Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO) is a global warming event that occurred at around 40?Ma and lasted about 500 kyr. We study this event in an abyssal setting of the Tasman Sea, using the IODP Core U1511B-16R, collected during the expedition 371. We analyse magnetic, mineralogical, and chemical parameters to investigate the evolution of the sea bottom conditions at this site during the middle Eocene. We observe significant changes indicating the response to the MECO perturbation. Mn oxides, in which Mn occurs under an oxidation state around +4, indicate a high Eh water environment. A prominent Mn anomaly, occurring just above the MECO interval, indicates a shift toward higher pH conditions shortly after the end of this event. Our results suggest more acid bottom water over the Tasman abyssal plain during the MECO, and an abrupt end of these conditions. This work provides the first evidence of MECO at abyssal depths and shows that acidification affected the entire oceanic water column during this event.
Project description:Although the responses of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) is deeply connected to orbital rhythms, those under different tectonic and atmospheric boundary conditions remain unknown. Here, we report suborbitally resolved benthic foraminiferal stable isotope data from J-anomaly Ridge in the North Atlantic from ca. 26.4-26.0 Ma. Our results indicate that the formation of NADW during that time interval was increased during the obliquity-paced interglacial periods, similar to in the Plio-Pleistocene. During the late Oligocene, the interglacial poleward shifts of the stronger westerlies in the southern hemisphere, which occurred due to the higher thermal contrasts near the upper limit of the troposphere, reinforced the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and, in turn, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). However, such a response mode in deep ocean circulation did not occur during the middle Eocene because of different tectonic boundary conditions and the immature states of the ACC. Instead, the middle Eocene interglacial conditions weakened the formation of the proto-type NADW due to less heat loss rate in high-latitude regions of the North Atlantic during high obliquity periods. Our findings highlight the different responses of deep ocean circulation to orbital forcing and show that climate feedbacks can be largely sensitive to boundary conditions.
Project description:The Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO) is a global warming event that occurred at about 40?Ma. In comparison to the most known global warming events of the Paleogene, the MECO has some peculiar features that make its interpretation controversial. The main peculiarities of the MECO are a duration of ~500 kyr and a carbon isotope signature that varies from site to site. Here we present new carbon and oxygen stable isotopes records (?<sup>13</sup>C and ?<sup>18</sup>O) from three foraminiferal genera dwelling at different depths throughout the water column and the sea bottom during the middle Eocene, from eastern Turkey. We document that the MECO is related to major oceanographic and climatic changes in the Neo-Tethys and also in other oceanic basins. The carbon isotope signature of the MECO is difficult to interpret because it is highly variable from site to site. We hypothesize that such ?<sup>13</sup>C signature indicates highly unstable oceanographic and carbon cycle conditions, which may have been forced by the coincidence between a 400 kyr and a 2.4?Myr orbital eccentricity minimum. Such forcing has been also suggested for the Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Events, which resemble the MECO event more than the Cenozoic hyperthermals.
Project description:The warmest global temperatures of the past 85 million years occurred during a prolonged greenhouse episode known as the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (52-50 Ma). The Early Eocene Climatic Optimum terminated with a long-term cooling trend that culminated in continental-scale glaciation of Antarctica from 34 Ma onward. Whereas early studies attributed the Eocene transition from greenhouse to icehouse climates to the tectonic opening of Southern Ocean gateways, more recent investigations invoked a dominant role of declining atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations (e.g., CO2). However, the scarcity of field data has prevented empirical evaluation of these hypotheses. We present marine microfossil and organic geochemical records spanning the early-to-middle Eocene transition from the Wilkes Land Margin, East Antarctica. Dinoflagellate biogeography and sea surface temperature paleothermometry reveal that the earliest throughflow of a westbound Antarctic Counter Current began ~49-50 Ma through a southern opening of the Tasmanian Gateway. This early opening occurs in conjunction with the simultaneous onset of regional surface water and continental cooling (2-4 °C), evidenced by biomarker- and pollen-based paleothermometry. We interpret that the westbound flowing current flow across the Tasmanian Gateway resulted in cooling of Antarctic surface waters and coasts, which was conveyed to global intermediate waters through invigorated deep convection in southern high latitudes. Although atmospheric CO2 forcing alone would provide a more uniform middle Eocene cooling, the opening of the Tasmanian Gateway better explains Southern Ocean surface water and global deep ocean cooling in the apparent absence of (sub-) equatorial cooling.
Project description:The early Eocene greenhouse world was marked by multiple transient hyperthermal events. The most extreme was the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~56 Ma), linked to the extinction of the globally recognised deep-sea benthic foraminiferal Velasco fauna, which led to the development of early Eocene assemblages. This turnover has been studied at high resolution, but faunal development into the later early Eocene is poorly documented. There is no widely accepted early Eocene equivalent of the Late Cretaceous-Paleocene Velasco fauna, mainly due to the use of different taxonomic concepts. We compiled Ypresian benthic foraminiferal data from 17 middle bathyal-lower abyssal ocean drilling sites in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, in order to characterise early Eocene deep-sea faunas by comparing assemblages across space, paleodepth and time. Nuttallides truempyi, Oridorsalis umbonatus, Bulimina trinitatensis, the Bulimina simplex group, the Anomalinoides spissiformis group, pleurostomellids, uniserial lagenids, stilostomellids and lenticulinids were ubiquitous during the early Eocene (lower-middle Ypresian). Aragonia aragonensis, the Globocassidulina subglobosa group, the Cibicidoides eocaenus group and polymorphinids became ubiquitous during the middle Ypresian. The most abundant early Ypresian taxa were tolerant to stressed or disturbed environments, either by opportunistic behavior (Quadrimorphina profunda, Tappanina selmensis, Siphogenerinoides brevispinosa) and/or the ability to calcify in carbonate-corrosive waters (N. truempyi). Nuttallides truempyi, T. selmensis and other buliminids (Bolivinoides cf. decoratus group, Bulimina virginiana) were markedly abundant during the middle Ypresian. Contrary to the long-lived, highly diverse and equitable Velasco fauna, common and abundant taxa reflect highly perturbed assemblages through the earliest Ypresian, with lower diversity and equitability following the PETM extinction. In contrast, the middle Ypresian assemblages may indicate a recovering fauna, though to some extent persistently disturbed by the lower-amplitude Eocene hyperthermals (e.g., Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 and 3). We propose the name 'Walvis Ridge fauna' for future reference to these Ypresian deep-sea benthic foraminiferal assemblages.
Project description:Geochemical and modeling studies suggest that the transition from the "greenhouse" state of the Late Eocene to the "icehouse" conditions of the Oligocene 34-33.5 Ma was triggered by a reduction of atmospheric pCO2 that enabled the rapid buildup of a permanent ice sheet on the Antarctic continent. Marine records show that the drop in pCO2 during this interval was accompanied by a significant decline in high-latitude sea surface and deep ocean temperature and enhanced seasonality in middle and high latitudes. However, terrestrial records of this climate transition show heterogeneous responses to changing pCO2 and ocean temperatures, with some records showing a significant time lag in the temperature response to declining pCO2. We measured the ?47 of aragonite shells of the freshwater gastropod Viviparus lentus from the Solent Group, Hampshire Basin, United Kingdom, to reconstruct terrestrial temperature and hydrologic change in the North Atlantic region during the Eocene-Oligocene transition. Our data show a decrease in growing-season surface water temperatures (~10 °C) during the Eocene-Oligocene transition, corresponding to an average decrease in mean annual air temperature of ~4-6 °C from the Late Eocene to Early Oligocene. The magnitude of cooling is similar to observed decreases in North Atlantic sea surface temperature over this interval and occurs during major glacial expansion. This suggests a close linkage between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, Northern Hemisphere temperature, and expansion of the Antarctic ice sheets.
Project description:The large-scale reorganization of deep ocean circulation in the Atlantic involving changes in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) and Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) played a critical role in regulating hemispheric and global climate during the last deglaciation. However, changes in the relative contributions of NADW and AABW and their properties are poorly constrained by marine records, including ?18O of benthic foraminiferal calcite (?18Oc). Here, we use an isotope-enabled ocean general circulation model with realistic geometry and forcing conditions to simulate the deglacial water mass and ?18O evolution. Model results suggest that, in response to North Atlantic freshwater forcing during the early phase of the last deglaciation, NADW nearly collapses, while AABW mildly weakens. Rather than reflecting changes in NADW or AABW properties caused by freshwater input as suggested previously, the observed phasing difference of deep ?18Oc likely reflects early warming of the deep northern North Atlantic by ?1.4 °C, while deep Southern Ocean temperature remains largely unchanged. We propose a thermodynamic mechanism to explain the early warming in the North Atlantic, featuring a strong middepth warming and enhanced downward heat flux via vertical mixing. Our results emphasize that the way that ocean circulation affects heat, a dynamic tracer, is considerably different from how it affects passive tracers, like ?18O, and call for caution when inferring water mass changes from ?18Oc records while assuming uniform changes in deep temperatures.
Project description:The Nd isotope composition of seawater has been used to reconstruct past changes in the contribution of different water masses to the deep ocean. In the absence of contrary information, the Nd isotope compositions of endmember water masses are usually assumed constant during the Quaternary. Here we show that the Nd isotope composition of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), a major component of the global overturning ocean circulation, was significantly more radiogenic than modern during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and shifted towards modern values during the deglaciation. We propose that weathering contributions of unradiogenic Nd modulated by the North American Ice Sheet dominated the evolution of the NADW Nd isotope endmember. If water mass mixing dominated the distribution of deep glacial Atlantic Nd isotopes, our results would imply a larger fraction of NADW in the deep Atlantic during the LGM and deglaciation than reconstructed with a constant northern endmember.
Project description:The early Pliocene shoaling of the Central American Seaway (CAS), ~4.7-4.2 million years ago (mega annum-Ma), is thought to have strengthened Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The associated increase in northward flux of heat and moisture may have significantly influenced the evolution of Pliocene climate. While some evidence for the predicted increase in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation exists in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic, similar evidence is missing in the wider Atlantic. Here, we present stable carbon (δ(13)C) and oxygen (δ(18)O) isotope records from the Southeast Atlantic-a key region for monitoring the southern extent of NADW. Using these data, together with other δ(13)C and δ(18)O records from the Atlantic, we assess the impact of the early Pliocene CAS shoaling phase on deep-water circulation. We find that NADW formation was vigorous prior to 4.7 Ma and showed limited subsequent change. Hence, the overall structure of the deep Atlantic was largely unaffected by the early Pliocene CAS shoaling, corroborating other evidence that indicates larger changes in NADW resulted from earlier and deeper shoaling phases. This finding implies that the early Pliocene shoaling of the CAS had no profound impact on the evolution of climate.
Project description:While the history of taxonomic diversification in open ocean lineages of ray-finned fish and elasmobranchs is increasingly known, the evolution of their roles within the open ocean ecosystem remains poorly understood. To assess the relative importance of these groups through time, we measured the accumulation rate of microfossil fish teeth and elasmobranch dermal denticles (ichthyoliths) in deep-sea sediment cores from the North and South Pacific gyres over the past 85 million years (Myr). We find three distinct and stable open ocean ecosystem structures, each defined by the relative and absolute abundance of elasmobranch and ray-finned fish remains. The Cretaceous Ocean (pre-66 Ma) was characterized by abundant elasmobranch denticles, but low abundances of fish teeth. The Palaeogene Ocean (66-20 Ma), initiated by the Cretaceous/Palaeogene mass extinction, had nearly four times the abundance of fish teeth compared with elasmobranch denticles. This Palaeogene Ocean structure remained stable during the Eocene greenhouse (50 Ma) and the Eocene-Oligocene glaciation (34 Ma), despite large changes in the overall accumulation of both groups during those intervals, suggesting that climate change is not a primary driver of ecosystem structure. Dermal denticles virtually disappeared from open ocean ichthyolith assemblages approximately 20 Ma, while fish tooth accumulation increased dramatically in variability, marking the beginning of the Modern Ocean. Together, these results suggest that open ocean fish community structure is stable on long timescales, independent of total production and climate change. The timing of the abrupt transitions between these states suggests that the transitions may be due to interactions with other, non-preserved pelagic consumer groups.