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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is the most pronounced global warming event of the early Paleogene related to atmospheric CO2increases. It is characterized by negative δ18O and δ13C excursions recorded in sedimentary archives and a transient disruption of the marine biosphere. Sites from the U.S. Atlantic Coastal Plain show an additional small, but distinct δ13C excursion below the onset of the PETM, coined the “pre‐onset excursion” (POE), mimicking the PETM‐forced environmental perturbations. This study focuses on the South Dover Bridge core in Maryland, where the Paleocene‐Eocene transition is stratigraphically constrained by calcareous nannoplankton and stable isotope data, and in which the POE is well‐expressed. The site was situated in a middle neritic marine shelf setting near a major outflow of the paleo‐Potomac River system. We generated high‐resolution benthic foraminiferal assemblage, stable isotope, trace‐metal, grain‐size and clay mineralogy data. The resulting stratigraphic subdivision of this Paleocene‐Eocene transition is placed within a depth transect across the paleoshelf, highlighting that the PETM sequence is relatively expanded. The geochemical records provide detailed insights into the paleoenvironment, developing from a well‐oxygenated water column in latest Paleocene to a PETM‐ecosystem under severe biotic stress‐conditions, with shifts in food supply and temperature, and under dysoxic bottom waters in a more river‐dominated setting. Environmental changes started in the latest Paleocene and culminated atthe onset of the PETM, hinting to an intensifying trigger rather than to an instantaneous event at the Paleocene‐Eocene boundary toppling the global system.

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  3. Abstract

    Cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology are now at the forefront of geologic timekeeping. While this technique heavily relies on the accuracy of astronomical calculations, solar system chaos limits how far back astronomical calculations can be performed with confidence. High‐resolution paleoclimate records with Milankovitch imprints now allow reversing the traditional cyclostratigraphic approach: Middle Eocene drift sediments from Newfoundland Ridge are well‐suited for this purpose, due to high sedimentation rates and distinct lithological cycles. Per contra, the stratigraphies of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Sites U1408–U1410 are highly complex with several hiatuses. Here, we built a two‐site composite and constructed a conservative age‐depth model to provide a reliable chronology for this rhythmic, highly resolved (<1 kyr) sedimentary archive. Astronomical components (g‐terms and precession constant) are extracted from proxy time‐series using two different techniques, producing consistent results. We find astronomical frequencies up to 4% lower than reported in astronomical solution La04. This solution, however, was smoothed over 20‐Myr intervals, and our results therefore provide constraints on g‐term variability on shorter, million‐year timescales. We also report first evidence that theg4g3“grand eccentricity cycle” may have had a 1.2‐Myr period around 41 Ma, contrary to its 2.4‐Myr periodicity today. Our median precession constant estimate (51.28 ± 0.56″/year) confirms earlier indicators of a relatively low rate of tidal dissipation in the Paleogene. Newfoundland Ridge drift sediments thus enable a reliable reconstruction of astronomical components at the limit of validity of current astronomical calculations, extracted from geologic data, providing a new target for the next generation of astronomical calculations.

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  4. The cause of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction is vigorously debated, owing to the occurrence of a very large bolide impact and flood basalt volcanism near the boundary. Disentangling their relative importance is complicated by uncertainty regarding kill mechanisms and the relative timing of volcanogenic outgassing, impact, and extinction. We used carbon cycle modeling and paleotemperature records to constrain the timing of volcanogenic outgassing. We found support for major outgassing beginning and ending distinctly before the impact, with only the impact coinciding with mass extinction and biologically amplified carbon cycle change. Our models show that these extinction-related carbon cycle changes would have allowed the ocean to absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide, thus limiting the global warming otherwise expected from postextinction volcanism.

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  5. Abstract

    A transect of paleoshelf cores from Maryland and New Jersey contains an ~0.19‐ to 1.61‐m‐thick interval with reduced percentages of carbonate during the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Outer paleoshelf cores are barren of nannofossils and correspond to two minor disconformities. Middle paleoshelf cores contain a mixture of samples devoid of nannofossils and those with rare specimens characterized by significant dissolution (i.e., etching). The magnitude of the decrease in carbonate cannot be explained by dilution by clastic material or dissolution resulting from the oxidation of organic matter during early diagenesis. The observed preservation pattern implies a shoaling of the calcite compensation depth and lysocline to the middle shelf. This reduced carbonate interval is observed during the onset of the PETM on other continental margins raising the possibility that extreme shoaling of the calcite compensation depth and lysocline was a global signal, which is more significant than in previous estimates for the PETM. An alternative scenario is that shoaling was restricted to the northwest Atlantic, enhanced by regional and local factors (eutrophication from rivers and microbial activity associated with warming) that exacerbated the impact of acidification on the shelf.

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