Evaluation of clumped isotope paleotemperatures across carbon isotope excursions from lacustrine strata of the Aptian Xiagou Formation, China
Abstract:Carbon cycle perturbations associated with Ocean Anoxic Event 1a have been implicated in global climate and environmental changes in the Early Aptian, in particular evidence for high sea surface temperatures (SST) and carbonate platform drowning. Records of environmental changes in the terrestrial realm remain sparse. This study provides additional data on clumped isotope derived temperatures (T(Δ47)) from lacustrine carbonates of the Xiagou Formation, Gansu Province, China. In addition, Vitrinite reflectance and the Rock-Eval parameter Tmax were used to evaluate the potential for 13C-18O bonds in the carbonates to have experienced reordering. Clumped isotope derived temperatures range from 28.8 °C to 45.9°C. Vitrinite reflectance values range from 0.67 to 0.72 and Tmax ranges from 429 °C to 443 °C.
The warmest temperature, derived from a very fine-grained calcareous sandstone, is at the upper limit of known modern Earth surface temperatures, and prompts concern that the T(Δ47) may be shifted to warmer temperatures as a result of burial diagenesis. Vitrinite reflectance and Tmax values indicate the samples have reached early maturity for oil generation (oil window from 60 °C to 150°C), so may have reached the lower end of temperatures for bond reordering to have occurred (~100 °C for ~100 million years). Despite this, the T(Δ47) are consistent with summer temperatures in a warm Cretaceous. In addition, temperature variations are similar to TEX86 records, especially from SST of the tropical Pacific. Two temperature increases and decreases occur, with the first peak in temperature occurring at the negative carbon isotope excursion (C3) associated with the initiation of the Selli Event (OAE1a).
This study provides evidence that climate variations occurring during the Selli Event were experienced in terrestrial environments, and provides maximum summer temperatures for this part of the Asian continent during the Cretaceous. While it was intended that thermal maturity parameters such as vitrinite reflectance and Tmax would help to rule out alteration due to burial diagenesis, the results are somewhat ambiguous. More rigorous data will be needed in future studies to screen clumped isotope samples for burial diagenesis.