Multi-proxy evidence for sea level fall at the onset of the Eocene-Oligocene transition

Marcelo De Lira Mota*, Tom Dunkley Jones, Nursufiah Sulaiman, Kirsty Edgar, Tatsuhiko Yamaguchi, Melanie J. Leng, Markus Adloff, Sarah Greene, Richard Norris, Bridget Warren, Grace Duffy, Jennifer Farrant, Masafumi Murayama, Jonathan Hall, James Bendle

*Corresponding author for this work

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Continental-scale expansion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT) is one of the largest non-linear events in Earth’s climate history. Declining atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and orbital variability triggered glacial expansion and strong feedbacks in the climate system. Prominent among these feedbacks was the repartitioning of biogeochemical cycles between the continental shelves and the deep ocean with falling sea level. Here we present multiple proxies from a shallow shelf location that identify a marked regression and an elevated flux of continental-derived organic matter at the earliest stage of the EOT, a time of deep ocean carbonate dissolution and the extinction of oligotrophic phytoplankton groups. We link these observations using an Earth System model, whereby this first regression delivers a pulse of organic carbon to the oceans that could drive the observed patterns of deep ocean dissolution and acts as a transient negative feedback to climate cooling.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4748
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2023


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