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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Darren R. Gröcke

Huber, B. T., MacLeod, K. G., Gröcke, D. R. & Kucera, M. (2011). Paleotemperature and paleosalinity inferences and chemostratigraphy across the Aptian/Albian boundary in the subtropical North Atlantic. Paleoceanography 26(4): PA4221.

Author(s) from Durham



Geochemical analyses of extraordinarily well preserved late Aptian–early Albian foraminifera from Blake Nose (Ocean Drilling Program Site 1049) reveal rapid shifts of δ18O, δ13C, and 87Sr/88Sr in the subtropical North Atlantic that may be linked to a major planktic foraminifer extinction event across the Aptian/Albian boundary. The abruptness of the observed geochemical shifts and their coincidence with a sharp lithologic contact is explained as an artifact of a previously undetected hiatus of 0.8–1.4 million years at the boundary contact, but the values before and after the hiatus indicate that major oceanographic changes occurred at this time. 87Sr/88Sr increase by ∼0.000 200, δ13C values decrease by 1.5‰ to 2.2‰, and δ18O values decrease by ∼1.0‰ (planktics) to 0.5‰ (benthics) across the hiatus. Further, both 87Sr/88Sr ratios and δ18O values during the Albian are anomalously high. The 87Sr/88Sr values deviate from known patterns to such a degree that an explanation requires either the presence of inter-basin differences in seawater 87Sr/88Sr during the Albian or revision of the seawater curve. For δ18O, planktic values in some Aptian samples likely reflect a diagenetic overprint, but preservation is excellent in the rest of the section. In well preserved material, benthic foraminiferal values are largely between 0.5 and 0.0‰ and planktic samples are largely between 0.0‰ to −1.0‰, with a brief excursion to −2.0‰ during OAE 1b. Using standard assumptions for Cretaceous isotopic paleotemperature calculations, the δ18O values suggest bottom water temperatures (at ∼1000 –1500 m) of 8–10°C and surface temperatures of 10–14°C, which are 4–6°C and 10–16°C cooler, respectively, than present-day conditions at the same latitude. The cool subtropical sea surface temperature estimates are especially problematic because other paleoclimate proxy data for the mid-Cretaceous and climate model predictions suggest that subtropical sea surface temperatures should have been the same as or warmer than at present. Because of their exquisite preservation, whole scale alteration of the analyzed foraminifera is an untenable explanation. Our proposed solution is a high evaporative fractionation factor in the early Albian North Atlantic that resulted in surface waters with higher δ18O values at elevated salinities than commonly cited in Cretaceous studies. A high fractionation factor is consistent with high rates of vapor export and a vigorous hydrological cycle and, like the Sr isotopes, implies limited connectivity among the individual basins of the Early Cretaceous proto-Atlantic ocean.