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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-231
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-231
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 30 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 30 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Biogeosciences (BG) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Phytoplankton community disruption caused by latest Cretaceous global warming

Johan Vellekoop1, Lineke Woelders1, Appy Sluijs2, Kenneth G. Miller3, and Robert P. Speijer1 Johan Vellekoop et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Division of Geology, KU Leuven, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Marine Palynology and Paleoceanography, Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht University, 3584CB, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA

Abstract. Phytoplankton responses to a ~ 350 kiloyear long phase of gradual late Maastrichtian (latest-Cretaceous) global warming starting at ~ 66.4 Ma can provide valuable insights into the long-term influences of global change on marine ecosystems. Here we perform micropaleontological analyses on three cores from the New Jersey paleoshelf, to assess the response of phytoplankton using cyst-forming dinoflagellates and benthic ecosystems using benthic foraminifera. Our records show that this Latest Maastrichtian Warming Event (LMWE), characterized by a 4.0 ± 1.3 ⁰C warming of sea-surface waters on the New Jersey paleoshelf, resulted in a succession of nearly monospecific dinoflagellate cyst assemblages, dominated by the species Palynodinium grallator. This response, likely triggered by the combination of warmer and seasonally thermally-stratified seas, appears to have been more intense at offshore sites than at nearshore sites. The LMWE, and related dinoflagellate response, is associated with an impoverished benthic ecosystem. A wider geographic survey of literature data reveals that the dominance of P. grallator is a marker for the LMWE throughout the northern mid-latitudes. While the dinocyst assemblage returned to a stable, normal marine community in the last tens of thousands of years of the Maastrichtian, benthic foraminiferal diversity remained slightly suppressed. Increased ecosystem stress during the latest Maastrichtian potentially primed global ecosystems for the subsequent mass extinction following the K-Pg boundary Chicxulub impact.

Johan Vellekoop et al.
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Interactive discussion
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Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Johan Vellekoop et al.
Johan Vellekoop et al.
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Short summary
Our micropaleontological analyses on 3 cores from New Jersey (USA) show that the Late Maastrichtian Warming Event (66.4–66.1 million years ago), characterized by a ~ 4.0 ⁰C warming of sea waters on the New Jersey paleoshelf, resulted in a disruption of phytoplankton communities and a stressed benthic ecosystem. This increased ecosystem stress during the latest Maastrichtian potentially primed global ecosystems for the subsequent mass extinction following the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary impact.
Our micropaleontological analyses on 3 cores from New Jersey (USA) show that the Late...
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