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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-37
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-37
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  26 Mar 2020

26 Mar 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Pliocene expansion of C4 vegetation in the core monsoon zone on the Indian Peninsula

Ann G. Dunlea1, Liviu Giosan2, and Yongsong Huang3 Ann G. Dunlea et al.
  • 1Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, 02543, USA
  • 2Geology & Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, 02543, USA
  • 3Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, 02912, USA

Abstract. The expansion of C4 vegetation during the Neogene was one of the largest reorganizations of Earth's terrestrial biome. Once thought to be globally synchronous in the late Miocene, site-specific studies have revealed differences in the timing of the expansion and suggest that local conditions play a substantial role. Here, we examine the expansion of C4 vegetation on the Indian Peninsula since the late Miocene by constructing a ~ 6 million year paleorecord with marine sediment from the Bay of Bengal at Site U1445 drilled during International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 353. Analyses of element concentrations indicate the marine sediment originates from the Mahanadi River in the Core Monsoon Zone (CMZ) of the Indian Peninsula. Hydrogen isotopes of the fatty acids of leaf waxes reveal an overall decrease in the CMZ precipitation since the late Miocene. Carbon isotopes of the leaf wax fatty acids suggest C4 vegetation on the Indian Peninsula existed before the end of the Miocene, but expanded to even higher abundances during the mid-Pliocene to mid-Pleistocene (3.5 to 1.5 Ma). Similar to the CMZ on the Indian Peninsula, a Pliocene expansion or re-expansion has previously been observed in northwest Australia and in East Africa, suggesting that these tropical ecosystems surrounding the Indian Ocean remained highly sensitive to changes in climate after the initial spread of C4 plants in late Miocene.

Ann G. Dunlea et al.

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Ann G. Dunlea et al.

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Latest update: 20 Sep 2020
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Short summary
During the past 20 Myr, there was a dramatic worldwide increase in plants using C4 photosynthetic pathways. We analyze C and H isotopes in fatty acids of leaf waxes preserved in marine sediment from the Bay of Bengal to examine changes in photosynthesis in the Core Monsoon Zone of the Indian Peninsula over the past 6 Myr. The observed increase in C4 vegetation from 3.5–1.5 Mya is synchronous with C4 expansions in northwest Australia and East Africa, suggesting regional hydroclimate controls.
During the past 20 Myr, there was a dramatic worldwide increase in plants using C4...
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