The Eurasian epicontinental sea was an important carbon sink during the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum

Mustafa Y. Kaya*, Guillaume Dupont-Nivet, Joost Frieling, Chiara Fioroni, Alexander Rohrmann, Sevinç Özkan Altıner, Ezgi Vardar, H. Tanyaş, Mehmut Mamtimin, Guo Zhaojie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (ca. 56 million years ago) offers a primary analogue for future global warming and carbon cycle recovery. Yet, where and how massive carbon emissions were mitigated during this climate warming event remains largely unknown. Here we show that organic carbon burial in the vast epicontinental seaways that extended over Eurasia provided a major carbon sink during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. We coupled new and existing stratigraphic analyses to a detailed paleogeographic framework and using spatiotemporal interpolation calculated ca. 720–1300 Gt organic carbon excess burial, focused in the eastern parts of the Eurasian epicontinental seaways. A much larger amount (2160–3900 Gt C, and when accounting for the increase in inundated shelf area 7400–10300 Gt C) could have been sequestered in similar environments globally. With the disappearance of most epicontinental seas since the Oligocene-Miocene, an effective negative carbon cycle feedback also disappeared making the modern carbon cycle critically dependent on the slower silicate weathering feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
Early online date31 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022




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