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Rapid changes in the redox conditions of the western Tethys Ocean during the early Aptian oceanic anoxic event

Westermann, S., Stein, M., Matera, V., Fiet, N., Fleitmann, D., Adatte, T. and Follmi, K. B. (2013) Rapid changes in the redox conditions of the western Tethys Ocean during the early Aptian oceanic anoxic event. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 121. pp. 467-486. ISSN 0016-7037

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2013.07.023


The early Aptian (125 to 121 Ma) records an episode of severe environmental change including a major perturbation of the carbon cycle, an oceanic anoxic event (OAE 1a, 122.5 Ma), a platform drowning episode and a biocalcification crisis. We propose to trace changes in the oxygenation state of the ocean during the early Aptian anoxic event using the redox-sensitive trace-element (RSTE) distribution, phosphorus accumulation rates (PARs) and organic-matter characterization in three different basins of the western Tethys. The following sections have been investigated: Gorgo a Cerbara (central Italy) in the Umbria Marche basin, Glaise (SE France) in the Vocontian basin and Cassis/La Bédoule (SE France) located in the Provencal basin. In the Gorgo a Cerbara section, RSTE distributions show a low background level along the main part of the section, contrasted by different maxima in concentrations within the Selli level. In the Glaise section, the Goguel level displays a weak increase in RSTE contents coeval with moderate TOC values. At Cassis/La Bédoule, no significant RSTE enrichments have been observed in sediments equivalent to the Selli level. These differences in the records of the geochemical proxies of the Selli level or its equivalent indicate the deposition under different redox conditions, probably related to the paleogeography. Our data indicate the development of anoxic–euxinic conditions in the deeper part of the Tethys during OAE 1a, whereas in the shallower environments, conditions were less reducing. Moreover, at Gorgo a Cerbara, the Selli level is characterized by rapid changes in the intensity of reducing conditions in the water column. Ocean eutrophication seems to be a major factor in the development and the persistence of anoxia as suggested by the PAR evolution. Higher PAR values at the onset of OAE 1a suggest an increase in nutrient input, whereas the return to lower values through the first part of the OAE 1a interval may be related to the weakened capacity to retain P in the sedimentary reservoir due to bottom-water oxygen depletion. This general pattern is contrasted by the data of Gorgo a Cerbara, where the sediments deposited during the OAE 1a interval show P-enrichments (mainly authigenic P). This is associated with maxima in TOC values and Corg:Ptot ratios, suggesting that a part of the remobilized P was trapped in the sediments and as such prevented from returning to the water column.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Past Climate Change
ID Code:40235

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