Climate of the Past (Jan 2024)

Paleocene–Eocene age glendonites from the Mid-Norwegian Margin – indicators of cold snaps in the hothouse?

  • M. L. Vickers,
  • M. T. Jones,
  • M. T. Jones,
  • J. Longman,
  • D. Evans,
  • D. Evans,
  • D. Evans,
  • C. V. Ullmann,
  • E. Wulfsberg Stokke,
  • M. Vickers,
  • J. Frieling,
  • D. T. Harper,
  • V. J. Clementi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20
pp. 1 – 23


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The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 396 to the mid-Norwegian margin recovered > 1300 m of pristinely preserved, volcanic-ash-rich sediments deposited during the late Paleocene and early Eocene from close to the centre of the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP). Remarkably, many of these cores contain glendonites, pseudomorphs after the purported cold-water mineral ikaite, from sediments dated to the late Paleocene and early Eocene. These time intervals span some of the hottest climates of the Cenozoic, including the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Global deep-ocean temperatures are not thought to have dropped below 10 ∘C at any point during this time, making the occurrence of supposedly cold-water (near-freezing temperature) glendonite pseudomorphs seemingly paradoxical. This study presents a detailed sedimentological, geochemical, and microscopic study of the IODP Exp. 396 glendonites and presents an updated model for the ikaite-to-calcite transformation for these glendonites. Specifically, we show that early diagenesis of basaltic ashes of the NAIP appear to have chemically promoted ikaite growth in the sediments in this region. Together with existing knowledge of late Paleocene and early Eocene glendonites from Svalbard to the north and early Eocene glendonites from Denmark to the south, these new glendonite finds possibly imply episodic, short-duration, and likely localized cooling in the Nordic Seas region, which may have been directly or indirectly linked to the emplacement of the NAIP.