Pollen and palynofacies analyses of Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum sediments from the North American continental shelf

Monday, 15 December 2014
Debra A Willard1, Marci M Robinson1, Jean M. Self-Trail1, Gregory A Wandless1 and Appy Sluijs2, (1)USGS, Reston, VA, United States, (2)Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584, Netherlands
Analyses of pollen and palynofacies from Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) sediments from three cores collected on the Atlantic Coastal Plain provide insights into the timing of vegetation and hydrologic changes associated with the PETM in eastern North America. The Mattawoman Creek-Billingsley Road (MCBR2), South Dover Bridge (SDB), and Bass River (ODP Site 1074AX) cores were collected at progressively greater distances from the paleoshoreline in continental shelf deposits in Maryland and New Jersey, USA. The PETM carbon isotope excursion (CIE) at each site is accompanied by sharp increases in pollen and spore concentrations, as well as changes in terrestrial palynomorph assemblage composition. In the two sites proximal to the paleoshoreline in Maryland, CIE fern spore abundance was two- to three times greater than in pre-CIE assemblages. At the distal site at Bass River, fern spores are present in CIE sediments and absent in pre-CIE sediments. Angiosperm pollen is most common in CIE sediments at all three sites. Palynofacies analyses, which quantify contributions of organic material from marine and non-marine sources, indicate that terrestrial influx increased sharply at the CIE onset. This observation is consistent with seasonally increased runoff from the continent.