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Science. 1999 Nov 19;286(5444):1531-1533.

The Source and Fate of Massive Carbon Input During the Latest Paleocene Thermal Maximum.

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  • 1Department of Geological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA. Department of Geological Sciences and Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA. School of Earth Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.


Lithologic, faunal, seismic, and isotopic evidence from the Blake Nose (subtropical western North Atlantic) links a massive release of biogenic methane approximately 55.5 million years ago to a warming of deep-ocean and high-latitude surface waters, a large perturbation in the combined ocean-atmosphere carbon cycle (the largest of the past 90 million years), a mass extinction event in benthic faunas, and a radiation of mammalian orders. The deposition of a mud clast interval and seismic evidence for slope disturbance are associated with intermediate water warming, massive carbon input to the global exogenic carbon cycle, pelagic carbonate dissolution, a decrease in dissolved oxygen, and a benthic foraminiferal extinction event. These events provide evidence to confirm the gas hydrate dissociation hypothesis and identify the Blake Nose as a site of methane release.

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