Enhanced Terrestrial Carbon Export From East Antarctica During the Early Eocene

Gordon N. Inglis*, Jaime L. Toney, Jiang Zhu, Christopher J. Poulsen, Ursula Röhl, Stewart S.R. Jamieson, Jörg Pross, Margot J. Cramwinckel, Srinath Krishnan, Mark Pagani, Peter K. Bijl, James Bendle

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Terrestrial organic carbon (TerrOC) acts as an important CO2 sink when transported via rivers to the ocean and sequestered in coastal marine sediments. This mechanism might help to modulate atmospheric CO2 levels over short- and long- timescales (103–106 years), but its importance during past warm climates remains unknown. Here we use terrestrial biomarkers preserved in coastal marine sediment samples from Wilkes Land, East Antarctica (∼67°S) to quantify TerrOC burial during the early Eocene (∼54.4–51.5 Ma). Terrestrial biomarker distributions indicate the delivery of plant-, soil-, and peat-derived organic carbon (OC) into the marine realm. Mass accumulation rates of plant- (long-chain n-alkane) and soil-derived (hopane) biomarkers dramatically increase between the earliest Eocene (∼54 Ma) and the early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO; ∼53 Ma). This coincides with increased OC mass accumulation rates and indicates enhanced TerrOC burial during the EECO. Leaf wax δ2H values indicate that the EECO was characterized by wetter conditions relative to the earliest Eocene, suggesting that hydroclimate exerts a first-order control on TerrOC export. Our results indicate that TerrOC burial in coastal marine sediments could have acted as an important negative feedback mechanism during the early Eocene, but also during other warm climate intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021PA004348
Number of pages14
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Volume37
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research used samples and/or data provided by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). G.N. Inglis was supported by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (DHF\R1\191178). J. Bendle and J.L. Toney were supported by NERC (NE/I00646X/2). U. Röhl and J. Pross were supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation; project no. 203022934, and no. 111964030, respectively). C.J. Poulsen was supported by the Heising‐Simons Foundation (Grant nos. 2016‐05 and 2016‐12) and the National Science Foundation (NSF; Grant no. 2002397). The CESM project is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This material is based upon work supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is a major facility sponsored by the NSF under Cooperative Agreement No. 1852977. Computing and data storage resources, including the Cheyenne supercomputer ( https://doi.org/10.5065/D6RX99HX ), were provided by the Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) at NCAR. The authors thank Sarah Feakins, Emily Tibbett, Bob Hilton, and one anonymous reviewer whose comments improved this manuscript significantly.

Funding Information:
This research used samples and/or data provided by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). G.N. Inglis was supported by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (DHF\R1\191178). J. Bendle and J.L. Toney were supported by NERC (NE/I00646X/2). U. R?hl and J. Pross were supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation; project no. 203022934, and no. 111964030, respectively). C.J. Poulsen was supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation (Grant nos. 2016-05 and 2016-12) and the National Science Foundation (NSF; Grant no. 2002397). The CESM project is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This material is based upon work supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is a major facility sponsored by the NSF under Cooperative Agreement No. 1852977. Computing and data storage resources, including the Cheyenne supercomputer (https://doi.org/10.5065/D6RX99HX), were provided by the Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) at NCAR. The authors thank Sarah Feakins, Emily Tibbett, Bob Hilton, and one anonymous reviewer whose comments improved this manuscript significantly.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Authors.

Keywords

  • biomarkers
  • cenozoic
  • DeepMIP
  • greenhouse
  • leaf wax
  • lipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Palaeontology

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