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Early Eocene to middle Miocene cooling and aridification of East Antarctica

Early Eocene to middle Miocene cooling and aridification of East Antarctica
Early Eocene to middle Miocene cooling and aridification of East Antarctica
[1] Few high-latitude terrestrial records document the timing and nature of the Cenozoic “Greenhouse” to “Icehouse” transition. Here we exploit the bulk geochemistry of marine siliciclastic sediments from drill cores on Antarctica's continental margin to extract a unique semiquantitative temperature and precipitation record for Eocene to mid-Miocene (~54–13 Ma). Alkaline elements are strongly enriched in the detrital mineral fraction in fine-grained siliciclastic marine sediments and only occur as trace metals in the biogenic fraction. Hence, terrestrial climofunctions similar to the chemical index of alteration (CIA) can be applied to the alkaline major element geochemistry of marine sediments on continental margins in order to reconstruct changes in precipitation and temperature. We validate this approach by comparison with published paleotemperature and precipitation records derived from fossil wood, leaves, and pollen and find remarkable agreement, despite uncertainties in the calibrations of the different proxies. A long-term cooling on the order of ?8°C is observed between the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (~54–52 Ma) and the middle Miocene (~15–13 Ma) with the onset of transient cooling episodes in the middle Eocene at ~46–45 Ma. High-latitude stratigraphic records currently exhibit insufficient temporal resolution to reconstruct continental aridity and inferred ice-sheet development during the middle to late Eocene (~45–37 Ma). However, we find an abrupt aridification of East Antarctica near the Eocene-Oligocene transition (~34 Ma), which suggests that ice coverage influenced high-latitude atmospheric circulation patterns through albedo effects from the earliest Oligocene onward.
Antarctica, Cenozoic, greenhouse, icehouse, chemical index of alteration, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
1525-2027
1399-1410
Passchier, S.
2c0cb99a-b765-4906-b7a7-a22e6dec61ce
Bohaty, S.M.
af9dbe78-8b9f-44f2-ba1d-20795837d2d1
Jiménez-Espejo, F.
49a9fe24-90ce-4c0e-b73d-6e82d33e2646
Pross, J.
e6953dba-20e4-4abd-8b01-4e1ac8d1e14a
Röhl, U.
e3029111-f8cc-4bf9-9433-829590c8645d
van de Flierdt, T.
70e6bd83-6a8e-4d33-802b-527b30ec9724
Escutia, C.
0045bb05-eae3-46d8-9f6a-c8b0d2e0699c
Brinkhuis, H.
c9577a7a-c06c-44af-a641-015aacc50b57
Passchier, S.
2c0cb99a-b765-4906-b7a7-a22e6dec61ce
Bohaty, S.M.
af9dbe78-8b9f-44f2-ba1d-20795837d2d1
Jiménez-Espejo, F.
49a9fe24-90ce-4c0e-b73d-6e82d33e2646
Pross, J.
e6953dba-20e4-4abd-8b01-4e1ac8d1e14a
Röhl, U.
e3029111-f8cc-4bf9-9433-829590c8645d
van de Flierdt, T.
70e6bd83-6a8e-4d33-802b-527b30ec9724
Escutia, C.
0045bb05-eae3-46d8-9f6a-c8b0d2e0699c
Brinkhuis, H.
c9577a7a-c06c-44af-a641-015aacc50b57

Passchier, S., Bohaty, S.M., Jiménez-Espejo, F., Pross, J., Röhl, U., van de Flierdt, T., Escutia, C. and Brinkhuis, H. (2013) Early Eocene to middle Miocene cooling and aridification of East Antarctica. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 14 (5), 1399-1410. (doi:10.1002/ggge.20106).

Record type: Article

Abstract

[1] Few high-latitude terrestrial records document the timing and nature of the Cenozoic “Greenhouse” to “Icehouse” transition. Here we exploit the bulk geochemistry of marine siliciclastic sediments from drill cores on Antarctica's continental margin to extract a unique semiquantitative temperature and precipitation record for Eocene to mid-Miocene (~54–13 Ma). Alkaline elements are strongly enriched in the detrital mineral fraction in fine-grained siliciclastic marine sediments and only occur as trace metals in the biogenic fraction. Hence, terrestrial climofunctions similar to the chemical index of alteration (CIA) can be applied to the alkaline major element geochemistry of marine sediments on continental margins in order to reconstruct changes in precipitation and temperature. We validate this approach by comparison with published paleotemperature and precipitation records derived from fossil wood, leaves, and pollen and find remarkable agreement, despite uncertainties in the calibrations of the different proxies. A long-term cooling on the order of ?8°C is observed between the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (~54–52 Ma) and the middle Miocene (~15–13 Ma) with the onset of transient cooling episodes in the middle Eocene at ~46–45 Ma. High-latitude stratigraphic records currently exhibit insufficient temporal resolution to reconstruct continental aridity and inferred ice-sheet development during the middle to late Eocene (~45–37 Ma). However, we find an abrupt aridification of East Antarctica near the Eocene-Oligocene transition (~34 Ma), which suggests that ice coverage influenced high-latitude atmospheric circulation patterns through albedo effects from the earliest Oligocene onward.

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More information

Published date: May 2013
Keywords: Antarctica, Cenozoic, greenhouse, icehouse, chemical index of alteration, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
Organisations: Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 371804
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/371804
ISSN: 1525-2027
PURE UUID: 858ef781-9a5b-4c93-a501-dbb6dbf9d04f
ORCID for S.M. Bohaty: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1193-7398

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Nov 2014 16:14
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:39

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