Paleohydrological and paleoenvironmental changes recorded in terrestrial sediments of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (Normandy, France)

Abstract : The Paleocene-Eocene boundary (55.8 Ma) is associated with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is characterized by a negative Carbon Isotope Excursion (CIE), reflecting a major perturbation of the carbon cycle, and by an extreme and rapid global warming. The Cap d'Ailly area (Upper Normandy, France), in which previous studies have revealed the Paleocene-Eocene transition, is a reference locality for organic-rich terrestrial and lagoonal deposits of the "Sparnacian" stage, widespread in Northwestern Europe. In this study, we focus on the organic matter content of the Vasterival section. Organic data (Rock-Eval, palynofacies, biomarker analyses and compound specific isotope analyses) were acquired in order to constrain the paleoenvironmental and paleohydrological changes that occurred at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Stable carbon isotope compositions of higher plant leaf wax n-alkanes reveal a CIE of − 4.5 ‰, extending throughout the second half of the studied section. Palynofacies observations reveal: (i) an abrupt shift from a closed, quiescent marsh pond to an open eutrophic swamp subjected to algal blooms, concomitant with the onset of the CIE; and (ii) the evolution from a swamp to a tidal flat due to the marine transgression that occurred during the PETM. Higher plant biomarkers and their hydrogen isotopic composition compared to nitrogen analyses suggest: (i) dry episodes just before the PETM that may help to understand the triggering of this hyperthermal event; (ii) a moister climate associated with a stronger seasonality during the early PETM.
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Sylvain Garel, Johann Schnyder, Jérémy Jacob, Christian Dupuis, Mohammed Boussafir, et al.. Paleohydrological and paleoenvironmental changes recorded in terrestrial sediments of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (Normandy, France). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Elsevier, 2013, 376, pp.184-199. ⟨10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.02.035⟩. ⟨insu-00801796⟩

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