Re-evaluating modern and Palaeogene GDGT distributions: Implications for SST reconstructions

Kyle W. R. Taylor*, Matthew Huber, Christopher J. Hollis, Maite T Hernandez Sanchez, Richard D. Pancost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

85 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we review the TEX86 palaeothermometer for sea surface temperature (SST) and evaluate its application to the Palaeogene, with a focus on the principal ecological, physical or chemical processes that can bias glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) distributions. Recent investigations of Palaeogene sediments have revealed temperature offsets between two different GDGT-based approaches, TEX86L and TEX86H, with the former agreeing with SST estimates derived from inorganic proxies (Hollis et al., 2012). These are surprising observations because the two GDGT approaches, although based on two distinct groups of compounds, apparently agree at SSTs > 15 degrees C in modem oceans. Here we reassess the relationship between raw GDGT distributions and the ratios used to construct TEX86H and TEX86 in both the modem core-top dataset and a new compilation of Palaeogene data. We show that the offset between TEX86H and TEX86L (Delta H-L) is a function of the GDGT-2/GDGT-3 ratio ([2]/[3] ratio), and that this can be used to separate low- and high-latitude GDGT distributions in the modern core-top dataset: a range of [2]/[3] ratios and Delta H-L values occur in polar regions, whereas [2]/[3] ratios are high and Delta H-L values are small at temperatures >15 degrees C. However, in the Palaeogene dataset, we observe a wide range of [2]/[3] ratios, even for SST estimates above 15 degrees C. Crucially, we find that water depth is a better discriminator of Delta H-L values and [2]/[3] ratios than SST in the combined modem and Palaeogene dataset: Delta H-L values are low (5.0) where water depth is >1000 m.

Modern water column studies show that the [2]/[3] ratios in suspended particulate matter (SPM) increase with depth, suggesting that high [2]/[3] ratios reflect a contribution from Archaea living in the deeper water column. This suggests that export dynamics influence GDGT-derived SST estimates. We argue for new approaches to SST reconstruction: 1) continued use of core-top calibrations, in which export dynamics have been implicitly incorporated into the current core-top calibration datasets, but with the influence of water depth taken into account; and 2) use of SPM or mesocosm-based calibrations, with water depth and palaeo-export dynamics independently assessed. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-174
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume108
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Keywords

  • TEX86
  • Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers
  • Palaeogene
  • Sea surface temperatures
  • Organic geochemistry
  • Proxy development
  • Palaeoceanography
  • Palaeoclimate
  • SEA-SURFACE TEMPERATURES
  • EOCENE THERMAL MAXIMUM
  • GLYCEROL TETRAETHER LIPIDS
  • CORE-TOP CALIBRATION
  • COLUMN PARTICULATE MATTER
  • MARINE ARCHAEA PATTERNS
  • SOUTHWEST PACIFIC-OCEAN
  • SANTA-BARBARA CHANNEL
  • GROUP-I CRENARCHAEOTA
  • MEMBRANE-LIPIDS

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