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Warming the fuel for the fire; evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum

Deborah J. Thomas, James C. Zachos, Timothy J. Bralower, Ellen Thomas and Steven Bohaty
Warming the fuel for the fire; evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum
Geology (Boulder) (December 2002) 30 (12): 1067-1070

Abstract

Dramatic warming and upheaval of the carbon system at the end of the Paleocene Epoch have been linked to massive dissociation of sedimentary methane hydrate. However, testing the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum hydrate dissociation hypothesis has been hindered by the inability of available proxy records to resolve the initial sequence of events. The cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion remains speculative, primarily due to uncertainties in the timing and duration of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. We present new high-resolution stable isotope records based on analyses of single planktonic and benthic foraminiferal shells from Ocean Drilling Program Site 690 (Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean), demonstrating that the initial carbon isotope excursion was geologically instantaneous and was preceded by a brief period of gradual surface-water warming. Both of these findings support the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate as the cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion. Furthermore, the data reveal that the methane-derived carbon was mixed from the surface ocean downward, suggesting that a significant fraction of the initial dissociated hydrate methane reached the atmosphere prior to oxidation.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 30
Serial Issue: 12
Title: Warming the fuel for the fire; evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum
Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Geological Sciences, Chapel Hill, NC, United States
Pages: 1067-1070
Published: 200212
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 23
Accession Number: 2002-079372
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
S65°09'38" - S65°09'37", E01°12'18" - E01°12'18"
Secondary Affiliation: University of California at Santa Cruz, USA, United StatesWesleyan University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200224
Program Name: ODPOcean Drilling Program
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