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End-Cretaceous Extinction in Antarctica Linked to Both Deccan Volcanism and Meteorite Impact via Climate Change

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End-Cretaceous Extinction in Antarctica Linked to Both Deccan Volcanism and Meteorite Impact via Climate Change

Sierra V Petersen et al. Nat Commun.

Abstract

The cause of the end-Cretaceous (KPg) mass extinction is still debated due to difficulty separating the influences of two closely timed potential causal events: eruption of the Deccan Traps volcanic province and impact of the Chicxulub meteorite. Here we combine published extinction patterns with a new clumped isotope temperature record from a hiatus-free, expanded KPg boundary section from Seymour Island, Antarctica. We document a 7.8±3.3 °C warming synchronous with the onset of Deccan Traps volcanism and a second, smaller warming at the time of meteorite impact. Local warming may have been amplified due to simultaneous disappearance of continental or sea ice. Intra-shell variability indicates a possible reduction in seasonality after Deccan eruptions began, continuing through the meteorite event. Species extinction at Seymour Island occurred in two pulses that coincide with the two observed warming events, directly linking the end-Cretaceous extinction at this site to both volcanic and meteorite events via climate change.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Late Cretaceous temperature and δ18Ow at Seymour Island.
(a) Δ47-derived temperature and (b) δ18Ow versus age. The timing of Deccan Traps volcanism (orange rectangle) and two extinction pulses (black/orange stars) are shown for comparison. Coloured error bars on individual points represent 1 s.e. of the mean of many replicates or the long-term reproducibility of carbonate standards, whichever is larger (see Methods). Horizon averages in a,b were calculated as the inverse variance weighted mean, to account for variable reproducibility of samples, with thick grey error bars showing the inverse variance weighted error on the mean (see Methods). Black line connecting horizon means is dashed to represent extrapolation of temperature and δ18Ow trends between measured horizons. Samples within ±3.5 m stratigraphic position of another sample were combined into a single horizon for horizon means (see Methods). Grey horizontal line in a represents the freezing point (0 °C) and in b represents the ice free, latitude-adjusted seawater value of −1.2‰ (ref. 30). Vertical grey dashed line denotes the KPg boundary (labelled KPB). Age model construction is described in Methods. Data for this figure can be found in Supplementary Data 5 and 6.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Position-specific differences.
Differences in (a) temperature, (b) δ13C and (c) δ18Ow for Lahillia and Cucullaea versus age. All differences calculated as the umbo minus the ventral margin value (umb-vm), with the horizontal grey line at 0 representing no difference between positions. Error bars are 1 s.e. for temperature and δ18Ow and 1 s.d. for δ13C, propagated through the difference calculation. Lahillia consistently shows warmer temperatures, and higher δ13C and δ18Ow in the umbo relative to the ventral margin (+ difference). Cucullaea generally shows the opposite, with warmer temperatures, and higher δ13C and δ18Ow in the ventral margin relative to the umbo (– difference), although this pattern is less consistent. After the pre-KPB warming spike, the position-specific differences in temperature and δ18Ow for both Lahillia and Cucullaea decrease to within error of zero and remain low until the end of the study interval. Differences in δ13C remain fairly constant through the section. Vertical grey dashed line represents the KPg boundary (labelled KPB) and orange dotted line represents the timing of the first extinction event. Age model construction is described in Methods.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Comparison of Δ47-derived and δ18O-derived temperature records.
Horizon mean Δ47-derived temperature shown in black with grey error bars (same as Fig. 1a). Horizon mean was calculated as the inverse variance weighted mean, to account for variable reproducibility of samples, with error bars showing the inverse variance weighted error on the mean (see Methods). Line connecting horizon means is dashed to represent extrapolation of temperature trends between measured horizons. Samples within ±3.5 m stratigraphic position of another sample were combined into a single horizon for horizon means (see Methods). δ18O-derived temperature calculated from horizon mean δ18O (this study) shown in dark turquoise circles with error bars representing 1 s.d. on δ18O, propagated through the δ18O-T-δ18Ow relationship. Published δ18O-derived temperature record from Tobin et al., with age model updated to match this study, shown in light green triangles with error bars representing 1 s.e. on the mean of all sample replicates within a given time bin. Both δ18O-derived temperature records assume a δ18Ow value of −1.0‰ (ice-free, globally constant). If δ18Ow was instead assumed to be −1.2‰ (ice-free, latitude-adjusted), the shape of the δ18O-derived curves would be identical but shifted ∼1 °C colder. The two δ18O-derived temperature curves miss the million-year cool/warm/cool temperature structure, underestimate the magnitude of the pre-KPB warming event and infer an earlier timing for the onset of warming, and do not capture the full range of temperatures seen in the Δ47-derived temperature record. Vertical grey dashed line represents the KPg boundary (labelled KPB) and orange dotted line represents the timing of the first extinction event. Age model construction is described in Methods.

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