Abstract

The Eocene was a time of greatly increased silica accumulation in the ocean, and the peak was in the early middle Eocene at about 50 Ma. The responsible geohistorical configuration included the following elements: extensive volcanism about 4 m.y. earlier, as part of the Chron 24 plate reorganization; early Eocene warming, with deep weathering to high latitudes and accumulation of the released silica in a sluggish ocean; and sharp cooling in the earliest middle Eocene, stimulating oceanic upwelling and biosilicification. It is possible, on the evidence of carbon and oxygen isotopic patterns, that the trigger for the exhalation of silica was a reverse greenhouse effect.

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