09 Sep 2021
09 Sep 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Clumped-isotope-derived climate trends leading up to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction in northwest Europe

Heidi Elizabeth O'Hora1, Sierra Victoria Petersen1, Johan Vellekoop2,3, Matthew Madden Jones1, and Serena R. Scholz1 Heidi Elizabeth O'Hora et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
  • 2Analytical, Environmental, and Geo-Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
  • 3Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Abstract. Paleotemperature reconstructions linked to Deccan traps volcanic greenhouse gas emissions and associated feedbacks in the lead-up to the end-Cretaceous meteorite impact and extinction document local and global climate trends during a key interval of geologic history. Here, we present a new clumped-isotope-based paleotemperature record derived from fossil bivalves from the Maastrichtian type region, in southeast Netherlands and northeast Belgium. Clumped isotope data documents a mean temperature of 19.2 ± 3.8 °C, consistent with other Maastrichtian temperature estimates, and an average seawater δ18O value of −0.3 ± 0.9 ‰ VSMOW for the region during the latest Cretaceous (67.1–66.0 Ma). A notable temperature increase at ~66.4 Ma is interpreted to be a regional manifestation of the globally-defined Late Maastrichtian Warming Event, linking Deccan Traps volcanic CO2 emissions prior to the end-Cretaceous extinction to climate change in the Maastricht region. Fluctuating seawater δ18O values coinciding with temperature changes suggest alternating influences of warm, salty southern-sourced waters and cooler, fresher northern-sourced waters from the Arctic Ocean. This new paleotemperature record contributes to the understanding of regional and global climate response to large-scale volcanism and ocean circulation changes leading up to a catastrophic mass extinction.

Heidi Elizabeth O'Hora et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-104', Anonymous Referee #1, 28 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Sierra Petersen, 19 Feb 2022
    • AC2: 'Attachement relating to Reply on Comment 1', Sierra Petersen, 19 Feb 2022
    • AC3: 'Attachement #2 relating to Reply on Comment 1', Sierra Petersen, 19 Feb 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on cp-2021-104', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Jan 2022
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC2', Sierra Petersen, 19 Feb 2022
    • AC5: 'Attachment relating to Reply on RC2', Sierra Petersen, 19 Feb 2022

Heidi Elizabeth O'Hora et al.

Heidi Elizabeth O'Hora et al.


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Short summary
At the end of the Cretaceous Period, massive volcanism in India emitted enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to warm climate globally above an already-warm background state. We reconstruct late Cretaceous seawater temperatures much warmer than today using the chemistry of fossil oysters from the Netherlands and Belgium. Covariations in temperature and reconstructed water chemistry indicate changing ocean circulation patterns, potentially related to fluctuating sea level in this region.