Impacts of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province on the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle in Western Pangea

Monday, 15 December 2014
Celina A Suarez and Todd Knobbe, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States
Carbon isotope analysis of bulk organic and inorganic carbon preserved in the lacustrine deposits of the late Triassic to Jurassic Moenave Formation were analyzed to construct a carbon isotope chemostratigraphic profile of western Pangea. Negative carbon isotope excursions (NCIE) are characteristic of the Late Triassic and are attributed to the effects of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) on climate and the global C-cycle. The aerial extent of the CAMP basalts is the largest in Earth’s history spanning four continents with an area of ~ 7 x 106 km2 and a volume of 3 to 11 x 106 km3. Carbon isotope and paleontological evidence has shown that the end Triassic extinction is near synchronous to the CAMP and likely spurred on the extinction event as well as an increase in global temperatures of 2 – 2.5°C. Global correlations of NCIEs between marine and terrestrial strata provide a connection between the CAMP basalts and the end-Triassic extinction. Preliminary data collected at Potter Canyon, Arizona reveal a 5.5 ‰ decrease in δ13Corganic and a 2.75‰ decrease in δ13Ccarbonate in the lower portion of the Whitmore Point Member. These NCIEs indicate the global carbon cycle perturbation caused by the CAMP is recorded in lacustrine sediments of the Whitmore Point Member in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Additional samples collected at high sampling frequencies at other locations in the Whitmore Point Member will corroborate the terrestrial impacts of the CAMP perturbation at these locations across the region. Correlation of NCIES associated with the CAMP and any identified microfossils of the Whitmore Point Member will also illustrate the global effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on the terrestrial environment and biota.