Seawater temperature and carbon isotope variations in belemnites linked to mass extinction during the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) in Central and Northern Spain. Comparison with other European sections



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Gómez Fernández, Juan José and Goy, Antonio and Canales Fernández, María Luisa (2008) Seawater temperature and carbon isotope variations in belemnites linked to mass extinction during the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) in Central and Northern Spain. Comparison with other European sections. Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology , 258 . pp. 28-58. ISSN 0031-0182

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The Early Toarcian mass extinction marks one of the critical events in the history of the Earth. Many of these events have been
linked to important climate changes. Two sections of the Toarcian showing high-resolution ammonite-based biostratigraphy are
studied in Central and Northern Spain. Stable isotope datasets, based on the analysis of 192 diagenetically screened belemnite
calcite and 41 bulk carbonates, allowed the construction of δ13C curves and a δ18O-based palaeotemperature. Comparison of the
extinction pattern with other sections in Europe and northern Africa shows that the Early Toarcian mass extinction boundary
occurred at the Tenuicostatum–Serpentinum transition, and that the organic-rich facies linked to the Oceanic Anoxic Event and the
associated negative δ13C excursion are diachronous.
From a latest Pliensbachian cooling interval, a first increment of seawater temperature averaging about 4.5 °C, started around
the Pliensbachian–Toarcian boundary and developed during the earliest Toarcian Tenuicostatum Biochron, marking the beginning
of the main extinction interval. From the Tenuicostatum–Serpentinum transition up to the Bifrons Biochron, a rise in seawater
temperature averaging 5.7 °C to 7.8 °C was recorded. This warming interval, which started rapidly and which seems to be
synchronous at least in Western Europe, is considered one of the main factors responsible for mass extinction. For some authors
this rapid warming was probably due to a massive injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but it does not seem to be
recorded in belemnite calcite, and the origin of these possible gases is largely debated in the literature.
Additional isotope excursions were found in the studied sections in Spain during the Middle and Late Toarcian. A negative
δ13Cbel excursion has been recorded at the latest Bifrons Biochron. Above this shift, the Illustris–Vitiosa subzones thermal peak,
which represents a 2–3 °C ΔT, could be linked to one of the tectonomagmatic activity peaks recorded in the Karoo Basin. A
renewal in the ammonite and brachipod faunas coincident with this climatic change has been recognized in NW Europe and
Western Tethys.
An interesting thermal peak has also been detected in belemnites of the Insigne Subzone. ΔT is in the order of 3 °C, and in both
sections the thermal peak is included into a δ13Cbel negative excursion of about −1.5‰. Relative synchrony with the new age for
the Karoo main magmatic activity (178–180 Ma) indicates that the δ13C negative anomaly and the warming interval could be
caused by the release of volcanogenic greenhouse gases. At this short interval, noteworthy changes in the abundance and diversity of the recorded assemblages in several faunal groups of NW Europe and Tethys are observed. The uppermost Levesquei Subzone
thermal peak has only been recognized in the deposits of the section located in Central Spain and coincides with a positive δ13C

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Jurassic; Stable isotope; Palaeotemperature; Mass extinction; Climate change
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:12246
Deposited On:15 Feb 2011 13:34
Last Modified:11 Dec 2018 08:42

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