R. J. Bailey and D. G. Smith write: Cohen et al. (2007) review the major changes in ocean chemistry in the Early Jurassic (Toarcian) and Late Palaeocene–Early Eocene, the latter corresponding to the Palaeocene–Eocene Temperature Maximum (PETM). These changes involved global carbon isotope excursions (CIEs), temperature increases, marine anoxia and biospheric crises. Their preferred explanation is the massive thermal dissociation of methane hydrates, releasing isotopically light carbon.

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What is problematical is their view that the isotopic data series from the Toarcian and Palaeocene–Eocene intervals (fig. 1a and b) record not only the amounts of change in the carbon isotopes,...

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