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An early Cambrian greenhouse climate

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posted on 2018-04-10, 15:48 authored by Thomas W. Hearing, Thomas H. P. Harvey, Mark Williams, Melanie J. Leng, Angela L. Lamb, Philip R. Wilby, Sarah E. Gabbott, Alexandre Pohl, Yannick Donnadieu
The oceans of the early Cambrian (~541–509 million years ago) were the setting for a dramatic diversification of animal life. However, sea temperatures – a key component of the early Cambrian marine environment – remain unconstrained, in part because of a substantial time gap in the stable oxygen isotope (δ18O) record prior to the evolution of euconodonts. Here, we show that previously overlooked sources of fossil biogenic phosphate have the potential to fill this gap. Pristine phosphatic microfossils from the Comley Limestones, UK, yield a robust δ18O signature suggesting sea surface temperatures of 20 to 25 °C at high southern paleolatitudes (~65 to 70 °S) between ~514 and 509 million years ago. These sea temperatures are consistent with the distribution of coeval evaporite and calcrete deposits, peak continental weathering rates, and also our climate model simulations for this interval. Our results support an early Cambrian greenhouse climate comparable to those of the late Mesozoic and early Cenozoic, offering a framework for exploring the interplay between biotic and environmental controls on Cambrian animal diversification.

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Citation

Science Advances, 2018, 4 (5), eaar5690

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/School of Geography, Geology and the Environment

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  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Science Advances

Publisher

American Association for the Advancement of Science

eissn

2375-2548

Acceptance date

2018-03-23

Copyright date

2018

Publisher version

http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/5/eaar5690

Language

en

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