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The leading hypothesis for the Toarcian oceanic anoxic event (T-OAE; c. 183 Ma) and the associated negative C-isotope excursion is the massive release of 12C favouring greenhouse conditions and continental weathering. The nutrient delivery to shallow basins supported productivity and, because of O2 consumption by organic-matter respiration, anoxia development. However, several studies have shown that calcareous nannoplankton experienced a decrease during the T-OAE. Nannofossil fluxes measured in the Llanbedr (Mochras Farm) borehole, Wales, UK, were the highest prior to the negative C-isotope excursion, along with high amounts of taxa indicative of nutrient-rich environments (Biscutaceae). Such conditions attest to high productivity. Fluxes show the lowest values in the core of the event, along with a size decrease of Schizosphaerella and a peak in Calyculaceae. The recovery of nannofossil fluxes and Schizosphaerella size occurred concomitant with the return of C-isotopes to more positive values. Concomitantly, deep dwellers (Crepidolithus crassus) dominated, indicating a recovery of the photic-zone productivity. These observations demonstrate that the cascade of environmental responses to the initial perturbation was more complex than previously considered. In spite of elevated nutrient delivery to epicontinental basins in the early Toarcian, carbonate and primary productions of nannoplankton were depressed in the core the T-OAE, probably because of prolonged thermohaline seawater stratification.

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