Tropical warming and intermittent cooling during the Cenomanian/Turonian oceanic anoxic event 2: Sea surface temperature records from the equatorial Atlantic

Astrid Forster, Stefan Schouten, Kazuyoshi Moriya, Paul A. Wilson, Jaap S.Sinninghe Damsté

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Oceanic anoxic event 2 (OAE-2) occurring during the Cenomanian/Turonian (C/T) transition is evident from a globally recognized positive stable carbon isotopic excursion and is thought to represent one of the most extreme carbon cycle perturbations of the last 100 Myr. However, the impact of this major perturbation on and interaction with global climate remains unclear. Here we report new high-resolution records of sea surface temperature (SST) based on TEX86 and δ 18O of excellently preserved planktic foraminifera and stable organic carbon isotopes across the C/T transition from black shales located offshore Suriname/French Guiana (Demerara Rise, Ocean Drilling Program Leg 207 Site 1260) and offshore Senegal (Cape Verde Basin, Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 41 Site 367). At Site 1260, where both SST proxy records can be determined, a good match between conservative SST estimates from TEX86 and δ 18O is observed. We find that late Cenomanian SSTs in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean (≥33°C) were substantially warmer than today (∼27°-29°C) and that the onset of OAE-2 coincided with a rapid shift to an even warmer (∼35°-36°C) regime. Within the early stages of the OAE a marked (∼4°C) cooling to temperatures lower than pre-OAE conditions is observed. However, well before the termination of OAE-2 the warm regime was reestablished and persisted into the Turonian. Our findings corroborate the view that the C/T transition represents the onset of the interval of peak Cretaceous warmth. More importantly, they are consistent with the hypotheses that mid-Cretaceous warmth can be attributed to high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and that major OAEs were capable of triggering global cooling through the negative feedback effect of organic carbon-burial-led CO2 sequestration. Evidently, however, the factors that gave rise to the observed shift to a warmer climate regime at the onset of OAE-2 were sufficiently powerful that they were only briefly counterbalanced by the high rates of carbon burial attained during even the most extreme interval of organic carbon burial in the last 100 Myr.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberPA1219
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology

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