Warming the fuel for the fire: Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum

Deborah J. Thomas, James C. Zachos, Timothy Bralower, Ellen Thomas, Steven Bohaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

236 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dramatic warming and upheaval of the carbon system at the end of the Paleocene Epoch have been linked to massive dissociation of sedimentary methane hydrate. However, testing the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum hydrate dissociation hypothesis has been hindered by the inability of available proxy records to resolve the initial sequence of events. The cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion remains speculative, primarily due to uncertainties in the timing and duration of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. We present new high-resolution stable isotope records based on analyses of single planktonic and benthic foraminiferal shells from Ocean Drilling Program Site 690 (Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean), demonstrating that the initial carbon isotope excursion was geologically instantaneous and was preceded by a brief period of gradual surface-water warming. Both of these findings support the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate as the cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion. Furthermore, the data reveal that the methane-derived carbon was mixed from the surface ocean downward, suggesting that a significant fraction of the initial dissociated hydrate methane reached the atmosphere prior to oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1070
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume30
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

Fingerprint

Hypsithermal
Paleocene
Eocene
warming
methane
carbon isotope
carbon
Ocean Drilling Program
sea surface
stable isotope
shell
surface water
oxidation
atmosphere
ocean

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology

Cite this

Thomas, Deborah J. ; Zachos, James C. ; Bralower, Timothy ; Thomas, Ellen ; Bohaty, Steven. / Warming the fuel for the fire : Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. In: Geology. 2002 ; Vol. 30, No. 12. pp. 1067-1070.
@article{ebf0513942c0444d9d4bec861759f0ae,
title = "Warming the fuel for the fire: Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum",
abstract = "Dramatic warming and upheaval of the carbon system at the end of the Paleocene Epoch have been linked to massive dissociation of sedimentary methane hydrate. However, testing the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum hydrate dissociation hypothesis has been hindered by the inability of available proxy records to resolve the initial sequence of events. The cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion remains speculative, primarily due to uncertainties in the timing and duration of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. We present new high-resolution stable isotope records based on analyses of single planktonic and benthic foraminiferal shells from Ocean Drilling Program Site 690 (Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean), demonstrating that the initial carbon isotope excursion was geologically instantaneous and was preceded by a brief period of gradual surface-water warming. Both of these findings support the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate as the cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion. Furthermore, the data reveal that the methane-derived carbon was mixed from the surface ocean downward, suggesting that a significant fraction of the initial dissociated hydrate methane reached the atmosphere prior to oxidation.",
author = "Thomas, {Deborah J.} and Zachos, {James C.} and Timothy Bralower and Ellen Thomas and Steven Bohaty",
year = "2002",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1130/0091-7613(2002)030<1067:WTFFTF>2.0.CO;2",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "30",
pages = "1067--1070",
journal = "Geology",
issn = "0091-7613",
publisher = "Geological Society of America",
number = "12",

}

Warming the fuel for the fire : Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. / Thomas, Deborah J.; Zachos, James C.; Bralower, Timothy; Thomas, Ellen; Bohaty, Steven.

In: Geology, Vol. 30, No. 12, 01.12.2002, p. 1067-1070.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Warming the fuel for the fire

T2 - Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum

AU - Thomas, Deborah J.

AU - Zachos, James C.

AU - Bralower, Timothy

AU - Thomas, Ellen

AU - Bohaty, Steven

PY - 2002/12/1

Y1 - 2002/12/1

N2 - Dramatic warming and upheaval of the carbon system at the end of the Paleocene Epoch have been linked to massive dissociation of sedimentary methane hydrate. However, testing the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum hydrate dissociation hypothesis has been hindered by the inability of available proxy records to resolve the initial sequence of events. The cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion remains speculative, primarily due to uncertainties in the timing and duration of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. We present new high-resolution stable isotope records based on analyses of single planktonic and benthic foraminiferal shells from Ocean Drilling Program Site 690 (Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean), demonstrating that the initial carbon isotope excursion was geologically instantaneous and was preceded by a brief period of gradual surface-water warming. Both of these findings support the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate as the cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion. Furthermore, the data reveal that the methane-derived carbon was mixed from the surface ocean downward, suggesting that a significant fraction of the initial dissociated hydrate methane reached the atmosphere prior to oxidation.

AB - Dramatic warming and upheaval of the carbon system at the end of the Paleocene Epoch have been linked to massive dissociation of sedimentary methane hydrate. However, testing the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum hydrate dissociation hypothesis has been hindered by the inability of available proxy records to resolve the initial sequence of events. The cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion remains speculative, primarily due to uncertainties in the timing and duration of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. We present new high-resolution stable isotope records based on analyses of single planktonic and benthic foraminiferal shells from Ocean Drilling Program Site 690 (Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean), demonstrating that the initial carbon isotope excursion was geologically instantaneous and was preceded by a brief period of gradual surface-water warming. Both of these findings support the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate as the cause of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum carbon isotope excursion. Furthermore, the data reveal that the methane-derived carbon was mixed from the surface ocean downward, suggesting that a significant fraction of the initial dissociated hydrate methane reached the atmosphere prior to oxidation.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0346403225&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0346403225&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1130/0091-7613(2002)030<1067:WTFFTF>2.0.CO;2

DO - 10.1130/0091-7613(2002)030<1067:WTFFTF>2.0.CO;2

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0346403225

VL - 30

SP - 1067

EP - 1070

JO - Geology

JF - Geology

SN - 0091-7613

IS - 12

ER -