EGU23-2714, updated on 14 Aug 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Exploring links between the North Atlantic Igneous Province and Paleocene–Eocene climate change using sedimentary mercury

Joost Frieling1, Tamsin Mather1, Morgan Jones2, Isabel Fendley1, Weimu Xu3, Christian Berndt4, Sverre Planke2, Carlos Alvarez Zarikian5, and the IODP Expedition 396 scientists*
Joost Frieling et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 2Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 3School of Earth Sciences, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 4GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany
  • 5Texas A&M University, International Ocean Discovery Program, College Station, United States
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP), a large igneous province (LIP), was emplaced between ~62 and 50 million years ago (Ma), with a voluminous burst of volcanic activity centred around 56-54 Ma. Global paleoclimate reconstructions from this Paleocene and Early Eocene interval indicate progressively warmer conditions, with several superimposed warming events or ‘hyperthermals’, such as the PaleoceneEocene Thermal Maximum (PETM; 56 Ma). These hyperthermals represent transient massive perturbations to the carbon cycle, marked by substantial global warming, ocean acidification and negative stable carbon isotope excursions. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 396 to the Mid-Norwegian continental margin recovered a suite of PaleoceneEocene sedimentary and igneous materials. This notably includes a unique and extremely expanded succession comprising of up to ~80m of PETM (ash-rich) sediments and volcanic ash layers infilling a hydrothermal vent crater. The craters on the Mid-Norwegian margin and similar structures associated with other LIPs were previously identified as surface expressions of a potent carbon release mechanism: the venting of thermogenic carbon generated in the thermal aureoles around volcanic dikes and sills intruded into the underlying sedimentary basins.

In recent years, much progress has been made towards understanding the role of deep earth processes and particularly LIP volcanism on paleoclimate through the application and refinement of proxies as sedimentary mercury (Hg) content. Large scale and especially LIP volcanism are considered important Hg emitters that may result in increased sedimentary Hg content. Here, we present high-resolution bulk sedimentary Hg content data from the sedimentary strata within the hydrothermal crater, spanning the PETM. We use our new data with biostratigraphic, stable carbon isotope, and lithological constraints, to shed light on the timing of hydrothermal crater formation, duration and re-activation of hydrothermal activity within the crater after formation. Finally, these new findings are placed in a global Hg and carbon cycle framework to assess the timing, characteristics, and impact of NAIP activity during the PETM.

IODP Expedition 396 scientists:

Alvarez Zarikian, Carlos Berndt, Christian Planke, Sverre Agarwal, Amar Andrews, Graham Betlem, Peter Bhattacharya, Joyeeta Brinkhuis, Henk Clementi, Vincent Chatterjee, Sayantani Christopoulou, Marialena Filina, Irina Ferre, Eric Frieling, Joost Guo, Pengyuan Harper, Dustin Jones, Morgan Lambart, Sarah Longman, Jack Millett, John Mohn, Geoffroy Nakaoka, Reina Scherer, Reed Tegner, Christian Varela, Natalia Wang, Mengyuan Xu, Weimu Yager, Stacy

How to cite: Frieling, J., Mather, T., Jones, M., Fendley, I., Xu, W., Berndt, C., Planke, S., and Alvarez Zarikian, C. and the IODP Expedition 396 scientists: Exploring links between the North Atlantic Igneous Province and Paleocene–Eocene climate change using sedimentary mercury, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2714,, 2023.