Isotopic and palynological evidence for a new Early Jurassic environmental perturbation
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
This is the final version of the article. Available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
The Early Jurassic Epoch was a predominantly greenhouse phase of Earth history, but a comprehensive understanding of its climate dynamics is hampered by a lack of high resolution multi-proxy environmental records. Here we report a geologically brief (approximately several hundred thousand years) negative carbon isotope excursion (CIE) of 2-3‰ in both marine and terrestrial materials, recognised for the first time for the Late Sinemurian Substage (Early Jurassic, ~. 194. Ma) of eastern England. The Late Sinemurian carbon isotope excursion, which is termed the S-CIE herein, is accompanied by peaks in the abundance of the pollen grain Classopollis classoides and the dinoflagellate cyst Liasidium variabile. Classopollis classoides was thermophilic and is a reliable proxy for hot/warm climatic conditions. Liasidium variabile is interpreted as thermophilic and eutrophic using multivariate statistics, its fluorescence properties being similar to living heterotrophic dinoflagellate cysts, and its association with C. classoides. Moreover, the morphological and ecological similarities of L. variabile to the Cenozoic genus Apectodinium are noteworthy. The co-occurrence of the acmes of C. classoides and L. variabile with a negative CIE is interpreted here as having wide geographical significance due to the marine and terrestrial carbon isotope signals being precisely in phase within an open marine setting. This is consistent with an oceanic-atmospheric injection of isotopically-light carbon, coupled with global warming and increased marginal marine nutrient supply, possibly the result of increased precipitation due to an enhanced hydrological cycle or a seasonally-stratified water column. A probable sea level rise of at least regional extent has been identified at the L. variabile event in other records, which supports this putative phase of global warming. All these features are common to the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM, ~. 56. Ma), and there are also similarities with the Early Toarcian oceanic anoxic event (T-OAE, ~. 182. Ma). © 2012 Natural Environment Research Council.
The input of James B. Riding was completed under a BGS Individual Merit project entitled Global Jurassic dinoflagellate cyst palaeobiology and its applications. The authors sincerely thank Ian C. Harding and Robert A. Fensome for their constructive and perceptive comments on earlier drafts. Martin J. Head and an anonymous referee provided very helpful reviews of the manuscript. Sev Kender, Melanie J. Leng and James B. Riding publish with the approval of the Executive Director, British Geological Survey (NERC).
This is an open access article.
Vol. 374, 15 March 2013, pp. 16 - 27