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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-2020-48
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-48
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 14 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Exploring a link between the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum and Neotethys continental arc flare-up

Annique van der Boon1, Klaudia F. Kuiper2, Robin van der Ploeg1, Margot J. Cramwinckel1, Maryam Honarmand3, Appy Sluijs1, and Wout Krijgsman1 Annique van der Boon et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2Dept. of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS), P.O. Box 45195-1159, Zanjan, Iran

Abstract. The Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO), a ~500 kyr episode of global warming that initiated at ~40.5 Ma, is postulated to be driven by a net increase in volcanic carbon input, but a direct source has not been identified. Here we show, based on new and previously published radiometric ages of volcanic rocks, that the interval spanning the MECO corresponds to a massive increase in continental arc volcanism in Iran and Azerbaijan. Ages of Eocene extrusive volcanic rocks in all volcanic provinces in Iran cluster around 40 Ma, very close to the peak warming phase of the MECO. Based on the spatial extent and volume of the volcanic rocks as well as the carbonaceous lithology in which they are emplaced, we estimate the total amount of CO2 that could have been released at this time corresponds to between 1500 and 11 300 Pg carbon. This is compatible with the estimated carbon release during the MECO. Although the uncertainty in both individual ages, and the spread in the compilation of ages, is larger than the duration of the MECO, a flare-up in Neotethys subduction zone volcanism represents a plausible excess carbon source responsible for MECO warming.

Annique van der Boon et al.

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Annique van der Boon et al.

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Short summary
40.5 million years ago, Earth's climate warmed, but it is unknown why. Enhanced volcanism has been suggested, but this has not yet been tied to a specific region. We explore an increase in volcanism in Iran. We dated igneous rocks and compiled ages from literature. We estimated the volume of igneous rocks in Iran in order to calculate the amount of CO2 that could have been released due to enhanced volcanism. We conclude that an increase in volcanism in Iran is a plausible cause of warming.
40.5 million years ago, Earth's climate warmed, but it is unknown why. Enhanced volcanism has...
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