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Science. 2011 Feb 18;331(6019):903-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1200803. Epub 2011 Jan 27.

The magnitude and duration of Late Ordovician-Early Silurian glaciation.

Author information

1
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. sethf@caltech.edu

Abstract

Understanding ancient climate changes is hampered by the inability to disentangle trends in ocean temperature from trends in continental ice volume. We used carbonate "clumped" isotope paleothermometry to constrain ocean temperatures, and thereby estimate ice volumes, through the Late Ordovician-Early Silurian glaciation. We find tropical ocean temperatures of 32° to 37°C except for short-lived cooling by ~5°C during the final Ordovician stage. Evidence for ice sheets spans much of the study interval, but the cooling pulse coincided with a glacial maximum during which ice volumes likely equaled or exceeded those of the last (Pleistocene) glacial maximum. This cooling also coincided with a large perturbation of the carbon cycle and the Late Ordovician mass extinction.

PMID:
21273448
DOI:
10.1126/science.1200803
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