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Episodic fresh surface waters in the Eocene Arctic Ocean
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2006 (English)In: Nature, ISSN 0028-0836, E-ISSN 1476-4687, Vol. 441, no 7093, 606-609 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It has been suggested, on the basis of modern hydrology and fully coupled palaeoclimate simulations, that the warm greenhouse conditions(1) that characterized the early Palaeogene period (55-45 Myr ago) probably induced an intensified hydrological cycle(2) with precipitation exceeding evaporation at high latitudes(3). Little field evidence, however, has been available to constrain oceanic conditions in the Arctic during this period. Here we analyse Palaeogene sediments obtained during the Arctic Coring Expedition, showing that large quantities of the free-floating fern Azolla grew and reproduced in the Arctic Ocean by the onset of the middle Eocene epoch (similar to 50 Myr ago). The Azolla and accompanying abundant freshwater organic and siliceous microfossils indicate an episodic freshening of Arctic surface waters during an similar to 800,000-year interval. The abundant remains of Azolla that characterize basal middle Eocene marine deposits of all Nordic seas(4-7) probably represent transported assemblages resulting from freshwater spills from the Arctic Ocean that reached as far south as the North Sea(8). The termination of the Azolla phase in the Arctic coincides with a local sea surface temperature rise from similar to 10 degrees C to 13 degrees C, pointing to simultaneous increases in salt and heat supply owing to the influx of waters from adjacent oceans. We suggest that onset and termination of the Azolla phase depended on the degree of oceanic exchange between Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Univ Utrecht, Palaeobot & Palynol Lab, Inst Environm Biol, NL-3584 CD Utrecht, Netherlands. Royal Netherlands Inst Sea Res NIOZ, Dept Marine Biogeochem & Toxicol, NL-1790 AB Den Burg, Netherlands. Univ London, Royal Holloway & Bedford New Coll, Dept Geol, Egham TW20 0EX, Surrey, England. Univ Utrecht, Dept Earth Sci, NL-3584 CD Utrecht, Netherlands. Rice Univ, Dept Earth Sci, Houston, TX 77005 USA. Purdue Univ, Dept Earth & Atmospher Sci, W Lafayette, IN 47906 USA. Purdue Univ, Purdue Climate Change Res Ctr, W Lafayette, IN 47906 USA. US Geol Survey, Natl Ctr, Reston, VA 20192 USA. Kyushu Univ, Dept Earth & Planetary Sci, Fukuoka 8128581, Japan. Bujak Res Inst, Blackpool FY3 8NE, England. Alfred Wegener Inst Polar & Marine Res, D-27568 Bremerhaven, Germany. Shell UK Explorat & Prod Ltd, Aberdeen AB12 3FY, Scotland. Univ Southampton, Southampton Oceanog Ctr, Sch Ocean & Earth Sci, Southampton SO14 3ZH, Hants, England. Natl Museum Nat Hist, NL-2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands. Stockholm Univ, Dept Geol & Geochem, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden. Univ Rhode Isl, Narragansett, RI 02882 USA., 2006. Vol. 441, no 7093, 606-609 p.
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Natural Sciences
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SWEDARCTIC 2004, ACEX
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URN: urn:nbn:se:polar:diva-2400DOI: 10.1038/nature04692ISI: 000237920800040PubMedID: 16752440OAI: oai:DiVA.org:polar-2400DiVA: diva2:859134
Available from: 2015-10-06 Created: 2015-10-06 Last updated: 2016-11-25

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