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Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Petrogenic Organic Carbon Mobilisation during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum
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  • Emily H Hollingsworth,
  • Felix J Elling,
  • Marcus Peter Sebastian Badger,
  • Richard Pancost,
  • Alexander Dickson,
  • Rhian L. Rees-Owen,
  • Nina Maria Papadomanolaki,
  • Ann Pearson,
  • Appy Sluijs,
  • Katherine H Freeman,
  • Allison A Baczynski,
  • Gavin L Foster,
  • Jessica Whiteside,
  • Gordon N. Inglis
Emily H Hollingsworth
University of Southampton
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Felix J Elling
Kiel University
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Marcus Peter Sebastian Badger
Open University
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Alexander Dickson
Royal Holloway University of London
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Rhian L. Rees-Owen
University of Bristol
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Nina Maria Papadomanolaki
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Ann Pearson
Harvard University
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Appy Sluijs
Utrecht University
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Katherine H Freeman
Pennsylvania State University
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Allison A Baczynski
The Pennsylvania State University
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Gavin L Foster
University of Southampton
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Jessica Whiteside
University of Southampton
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Gordon N. Inglis
University of Southampton

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was a transient global warming event recognised in the geologic record by a prolonged negative carbon isotope excursion (CIE). The onset of the CIE was the result of a rapid influx of 13C-depleted carbon into the ocean-atmosphere system. However, the mechanisms required to sustain the negative CIE remains unclear. Previous studies have identified enhanced mobilisation of petrogenic organic carbon (OCpetro) and argued that this was likely oxidised, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations after the onset of the CIE. With existing evidence limited to the mid-latitudes and subtropics, we determine whether: (i) enhanced mobilisation and subsequent burial of OCpetro in marine sediments was a global phenomenon; and (ii) whether it occurred throughout the PETM. To achieve this, we utilised a lipid biomarker approach to trace and quantify OCpetro burial in a global compilation of PETM-aged shallow marine sites (n = 7, including five new sites). Our results confirm that OCpetro mass accumulation rates (MARs) increased within the subtropics and mid-latitudes during the PETM, consistent with evidence of higher physical erosion rates and intense episodic rainfall events. The high-latitude sites do not exhibit distinct changes in the organic carbon source during the PETM. This may be due to the more stable hydrological regime and/or additional controls. Crucially, we also demonstrate that OCpetro MARs remained elevated during the recovery phase of the PETM. Although OCpetro oxidation was likely an important positive feedback mechanism throughout the PETM, we show that this feedback was both spatially and temporally variable.
02 Oct 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
17 Oct 2023Published in ESS Open Archive