11 Mar 2021

11 Mar 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Maastrichtian-Rupelian paleoclimates in the southwest Pacific – a critical evaluation of biomarker paleothermometry and dinoflagellate cyst paleoecology at Ocean Drilling Program Site 1172

Peter K. Bijl1, Joost Frieling1,a, Margot J. Cramwinckel1,b, Christine Boschman1, Appy Sluijs1, and Francien Peterse1 Peter K. Bijl et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • anow at: Department of earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road OX1 3AN, UK
  • bnow at: School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Abstract. Sea surface temperature (SST) reconstructions based on isoprenoid glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (isoGDGT) distributions from the Eocene southwest (sw) Pacific Ocean are unequivocally warmer than can be reconciled with state-of-the-art fully coupled climate models. However, the SST signal preserved in sedimentary archives can be affected by contributions of additional isoGDGT sources. Methods now exist to identify and possibly correct for overprinting effects on the isoGDGT distribution in marine sediments. We here use the current proxy insights to assess the reliability of the isoGDGT-based SST signal in 69 newly analysed and 242 re-analysed sediments ODP Site 1172 (East Tasman Plateau, Australia) following state-of-the-art chromatographic techniques, in context of paleo-environmental and paleoclimatologic reconstructions based on dinoflagellate cysts. The resulting ~130 kyr-resolution Maastrichtian-Oligocene TEX86-based SST record confirms previous conclusions of anomalous warmth in the early Eocene sw Pacific and remarkably cool conditions during the mid-Paleocene. Dinocyst diversity and assemblages show a strong response to the local SST evolution, supporting the robustness of the TEX86 record.

Soil-derived branched GDGTs stored in the same sediments are used to reconstruct mean annual air temperature (MAAT) of the nearby land using the MBT'5me proxy. MAAT is consistently lower than SST during the early Eocene, independent of the calibration chosen. General trends in SST and MAAT are similar, except for: 1) an enigmatic absence of MAAT rise during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum and Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum, and 2) a subdued middle–late Eocene MAAT cooling relative to SST. Both dinocysts and GDGT signals suggest a mid-shelf depositional environment with strong river-runoff during the Paleocene-early Eocene, progressively becoming more marine thereafter. This trend reflects gradual drying and more pronounced wet/dry seasons in the northward drifting Australian hinterland, which may also explain the subdued middle Eocene MAAT cooling relative to that of SST. The overall correlation between dinocyst assemblages, marine biodiversity and SST changes suggests that temperature exerted a strong influence on the surface-water ecosystem, probably in part through sea level changes caused by steric effects. Finally, we find support for a potential temperature control on compositional changes of branched glycerol monoalkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGMGTs) in marine sediments. It is encouraging that a critical evaluation of the GDGT signals confirms the vast majority of the generated data is reliable. However, this also implies the high TEX86-based SSTs for the Eocene sw Pacific, and the systematic offset between absolute TEX86-based SST and MBT'5me-based MAAT estimates remain unexplained.

Peter K. Bijl 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-2021-18', Chris Hollis, 16 Apr 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Peter Bijl, 14 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'R2 Comment on cp-2021-18', Anonymous Referee #2, 15 Jun 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Peter Bijl, 14 Jul 2021
      • EC1: 'Editor Reply on AC2', Erin McClymont, 23 Jul 2021
      • AC3: 'Reply on AC2', Peter Bijl, 24 Jul 2021

Peter K. Bijl et al.

Data sets

RGDGT P. K. Bijl

Peter K. Bijl et al.


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Short summary
We here use the latest insights for GDGT and dinocyst-based paleotemperature and paleoenvironmental reconstructions in Late Cretaceous –early Oligocene sediments from ODP Site 1172 (East Tasman Plateau, Australia). General trends in sea surface and air temperature are similar. We reconstruct strong river-runoff during the Paleocene-early Eocene, progressively becoming more marine thereafter, and gradual drying and increased wet/dry seasonality in the northward drifting hinterland.