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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-36
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-36
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 17 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Clay mineralogical evidence for mid-latitude terrestrial climate change from the latest Cretaceous through the earliest Paleogene in the Songliao Basin, NE China

Yuan Gao1, Youfeng Gao2, Daniel E. Ibarra3,4, Xiaojing Du5, Tian Dong1, Zhifei Liu6, and Chengshan Wang1 Yuan Gao et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology, School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
  • 2Key Lab for the Evolution of Past Life and Environment in Northeast Asia, Ministry of Education, Jilin University, Changchun 130026, China
  • 3Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720 USA
  • 4Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912 USA
  • 5Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
  • 6State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China

Abstract. From the latest Cretaceous (late Campanian to Maastrichtian, ~ 76−66 Ma) through the earliest Paleogene, a fluctuating greenhouse climate prevailed and climatic changes were linked to catastrophic geological events and massive biotic extinction. Paleoclimate reconstructions during this time period primarily rely on marine sediments, with limited high-resolution terrestrial records. Here we present a high-resolution clay mineralogical record from the Sifangtai Formation and the Mingshui Formation of the Songliao Basin, northeast China, which are continuously deposited fluvial to lacustrine strata, and have been tightly age constrained as late Campanian to early Danian. Smectite and illite are the dominant clay species, whereas kaolinite and chlorite are minor components. Clay minerals are derived from the weathering of parent rocks and/or paleosols, and their relative weight percentages are primarily controlled by regional paleoclimate and sedimentary environment. We use three clay mineralogical proxies, including the percentage ratio of smectite and illite, illite chemistry index and the percentage ratio of phyllosilicate clay minerals and quartz in clay fractions, for paleoclimatic reconstruction. We correlate these proxy timeseries with basin-scale and global paleoclimate timeseries. Our results show that from the latest Cretaceous through the earliest Paleogene, values of all three clay mineralogical proxies in the Songliao Basin are generally higher during warming intervals than those during cooling intervals. We interpret this dataset to suggest that warming caused strengthened moisture delivery from the Pacific, increasing precipitation and intensified chemical weathering, whereas cooling was accompanied by increasing dryness and physical weathering. Before the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary (approximately 66.4 Ma to 66.0 Ma), the warming likely related to Deccan volcanism and the transient cooling afterwards are characterized by paleosol carbonate stable isotopic excursions and changes in the illite chemistry index recorded in the Songliao Basin sediments, reflecting fluctuations in precipitation and weathering intensity. However, changes in clay mineral assemblages are not clear before and at the K-Pg boundary. This is probably due to the relatively long-response time of terrestrial weathering regimes (up to 500 kyrs) to the short duration of the K-Pg boundary impact and the degassing by the preceding Deccan Traps volcanism (~ 200 kyrs). In the earliest Paleogene, after the K-Pg boundary, all clay mineralogical and stable isotopic proxies indicate a warmer and more humid climate with stronger chemical weathering. Our work demonstrates that terrestrial climate and weathering intensity in the mid-latitude Songliao Basin fluctuated during the latest Cretaceous through the earliest Paleogene and sensitively responded to global climate changes.

Yuan Gao et al.

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Short summary
We present a high-resolution clay mineralogical record in continental Songliao Basin of NE China from the latest Cretaceous through the earliest Paleogene. Three clay mineralogical proxies are used for paleoclimatic reconstructions and are correlated with marine records. Fluctuations in terrestrial climate occurred during the latest Cretaceous and across the K-Pg boundary when warming (cooling) caused increasing (decreasing) precipitation and intensified (weakened) chemical weathering.
We present a high-resolution clay mineralogical record in continental Songliao Basin of NE China...
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