Abstract

The timing of initiation of continent-continent collision between Asia and India is controversial, but this major tectonic event is generally thought to have occurred in the Early Eocene, ca. 50 Ma. New and independent data from strontium isotopes, stable carbon isotopes, microfossil biostratigraphy, and mammal fossils from an Early Eocene marginal marine sequence (Cambay Shale) at the Vastan Lignite Mine of western India indicate that terrestrial faunal exchanges, and therefore continental collision, between Asia and the Indian subcontinent took place before 53.7 Ma. This age coincides with the second Eocene Thermal Maximum (ETM2), a short-lived warming episode that followed the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) ca. 55.5 Ma. Our data also document, for the first time, a clear record of the ETM2 in terrestrial organic material from a low-latitude site, which is represented by a 3‰−4‰ carbon isotope excursion (CIE) in lignite and dispersed organic carbon δ13C values. The magnitude of the CIE at this location closely matches that observed in marine cores from the Arctic Ocean, which supports an interpretation that this hyperthermal event, though of lower magnitude, was similar in character to that of the PETM, being a global phenomenon that affected both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

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