Articles | Volume 11, issue 7
Clim. Past, 11, 1009–1025, 2015
Clim. Past, 11, 1009–1025, 2015

Research article 31 Jul 2015

Research article | 31 Jul 2015

The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum at DSDP Site 277, Campbell Plateau, southern Pacific Ocean

C. J. Hollis1, B. R. Hines2, K. Littler3,4, V. Villasante-Marcos5, D. K. Kulhanek6, C. P. Strong1, J. C. Zachos3, S. M. Eggins7, L. Northcote8, and A. Phillips1 C. J. Hollis et al.
  • 1GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • 2School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • 3Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California – Santa Cruz, California, USA
  • 4Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall, UK
  • 5Observatorio Geofísico Central, Instituto Geográfico Nacional, Madrid, Spain
  • 6International Ocean Discovery Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA
  • 7Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
  • 8National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, Wellington, New Zealand

Abstract. Re-examination of sediment cores from Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 277 on the western margin of the Campbell Plateau (paleolatitude of ~65° S) has identified an intact Paleocene–Eocene (P–E) boundary overlain by a 34 cm thick record of the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) within nannofossil chalk. The upper part of the PETM is truncated, either due to drilling disturbance or a sedimentary hiatus. An intact record of the onset of the PETM is indicated by a gradual decrease in δ13C values over 20 cm, followed by a 14 cm interval in which δ13C is 2 ‰ lighter than uppermost Paleocene values. After accounting for effects of diagenetic alteration, we use δ18O and Mg/Ca values from foraminiferal tests to determine that intermediate and surface waters warmed by ~5–6° at the onset of the PETM prior to the full development of the negative δ13C excursion. After this initial warming, sea temperatures were relatively stable through the PETM but declined abruptly across the horizon that truncates the event at this site. Mg/Ca analysis of foraminiferal tests indicates peak intermediate and surface water temperatures of ~19 and ~32 °C, respectively. These temperatures may be influenced by residual diagenetic factors and changes in ocean circulation, and surface water values may also be biased towards warm-season temperatures.

Short summary
Re-examination of a Deep Sea Drilling Project sediment core (DSDP Site 277) from the western Campbell Plateau has identified the initial phase of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) within nannofossil chalk, the first record of the PETM in an oceanic setting in the southern Pacific Ocean (paleolatitude of ~65°S). Geochemical proxies indicate that intermediate and surface waters warmed by ~6° at the onset of the PETM prior to the full development of the negative δ13C excursion.