EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Onset of Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 in the Lower Saxony Basin – Insights fromhigh-resolution stable isotope stratigraphy and geochemical modelling

Pia Müller1, Ulrich Heimhofer1, and Christian Ostertag-Henning2
Pia Müller et al.
  • 1Institute of Geology , Leibniz University Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • 2Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany

The Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE) 2 spanning the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary (93.5 Ma)
represents a major perturbation of the global carbon cycle and is marked by organic-rich
sediments deposited under oxygen-depleted conditions. In many studies the eruption of the
Caribbean LIP is considered to be the cause for rapidly increasing CO2 concentrations and
resulting global warming accompanied by widespread oceanic anoxia. In the Lower Saxony
Basin of northern Germany, the deposits of the OAE 2 are exposed in several industry drill
cores. In this study, the lower part of the OAE 2 has been studied in the HOLCIM 2011-3 drill
core. Sedimentary rocks are composed of limestones, marly limestones, marls and black
shales and have been analysed with a high-resolution stable isotope approach
(approximately one sample every 2 cm) combined with geochemical modelling. Using stable
carbon isotopes, bulk rock parameters and petrographic analysis, the onset of OAE 2 has
been investigated in detail. The high-resolution δ13C curve exhibits overall stable values
around 3 ‰ before the onset of the Plenus event. This background level is interrupted by
three short-lived and small but significant negative carbon isotope excursions (CIEs) down to
δ13C values of 2.5 ‰, 2.7 ‰ and 1.9 ‰. Immediately before the main rise in the Plenus bed,
a longer-lasting negative CIE down to 2.8 ‰ is observed, preceding the large positive CIE of
the OAE 2 to values of 5.2 ‰ over 33 ka. Thereafter, the δ13C values decrease to 3.5 ‰ over
a period of approximately 130 ka. The results can be correlated with the lower-resolution
data set of Voigt et al. (2008) but enable a more accurate characterization of the subtle
features of the CIE and hence events before and during this time interval. Carbon cycle
modelling with the modelling software SIMILE using a model based on Kump & Arthur (1999)
reveals that the negative excursion before the Plenus bed can be explained by a massive
volcanic pulse releasing of 0.95*1018 mol CO2 within 14 ka. This amount corresponds to only
81 % of the calculated volume of CO2 release during emplacement of the Caribbean LIP by
Joo et al. (2020). In the model the volcanic exhalation increases atmospheric CO2
concentrations. This will increase global temperatures, intensify the hydrological cycle and
thus increase nutrient input into the ocean, resulting in an expansion of the oxygen minimum
zone, the development of anoxic conditions and an increase in the preservation potential for
organic material. In the model enhanced primary productivity and organic matter preservation
can be controlled by the implemented riverine phosphate input and the preservation factor for
organic matter. For the positive anomaly, the riverine phosphate input must be nearly
doubled (from 0.01 μmol/kg PO4 to 0.019 μmol/kg) for the period of the increasing δ13C
values (app. 33 ka), with a concomitant rise of the preservation factor from 1 % to 2 %. This
model scenario accurately reproduces the major features of the new high-resolution δ13C
record over the onset of the OAE 2 CIE.

How to cite: Müller, P., Heimhofer, U., and Ostertag-Henning, C.: Onset of Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 in the Lower Saxony Basin – Insights fromhigh-resolution stable isotope stratigraphy and geochemical modelling, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8748,, 2021.


Display file

Comments on the display

to access the discussion