Shallow-water hydrothermal venting linked to the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Christian Berndt*, Sverre Planke, Carlos A. Alvarez Zarikian, Joost Frieling, Morgan T. Jones, John M. Millett, Henk Brinkhuis, Stefan Bünz, Henrik H. Svensen, Jack Longman, Reed P. Scherer, Jens Karstens, Ben Manton, Mei Nelissen, Brandon Reed, Jan Inge Faleide, Ritske S. Huismans, Amar Agarwal, Graham D.M. Andrews, Peter BetlemJoyeeta Bhattacharya, Sayantani Chatterjee, Marialena Christopoulou, Vincent J. Clementi, Eric C. Ferré, Irina Y. Filina, Pengyuan Guo, Dustin T. Harper, Sarah Lambart, Geoffroy Mohn, Reina Nakaoka, Christian Tegner, Natalia Varela, Mengyuan Wang, Weimu Xu, Stacy L. Yager

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was a global warming event of 5–6 °C around 56 million years ago caused by input of carbon into the ocean and atmosphere. Hydrothermal venting of greenhouse gases produced in contact aureoles surrounding magmatic intrusions in the North Atlantic Igneous Province have been proposed to play a key role in the PETM carbon-cycle perturbation, but the precise timing, magnitude and climatic impact of such venting remains uncertain. Here we present seismic data and the results of a five-borehole transect sampling the crater of a hydrothermal vent complex in the Northeast Atlantic. Stable carbon isotope stratigraphy and dinoflagellate cyst biostratigraphy reveal a negative carbon isotope excursion coincident with the appearance of the index taxon Apectodinium augustum in the vent crater, firmly tying the infill to the PETM. The shape of the crater and stratified sediments suggests large-scale explosive gas release during the initial phase of vent formation followed by rapid, but largely undisturbed, diatomite-rich infill. Moreover, we show that these vents erupted in very shallow water across the North Atlantic Igneous Province, such that volatile emissions would have entered the atmosphere almost directly without oxidation to CO2 and at the onset of the PETM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-809
Number of pages15
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume16
Issue number9
Early online date3 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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