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Evidence for rapid weathering response to climatic warming during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event.

Them, T.R. and Gill, B. C. and Selby, D. and Gröcke, D.R. and Friedman, R.M. and Owens, J.D. (2017) 'Evidence for rapid weathering response to climatic warming during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event.', Scientific reports., 7 (1). p. 5003.


Chemical weathering consumes atmospheric carbon dioxide through the breakdown of silicate minerals and is thought to stabilize Earth’s long-term climate. However, the potential influence of silicate weathering on atmospheric pCO2 levels on geologically short timescales (103–105 years) remains poorly constrained. Here we focus on the record of a transient interval of severe climatic warming across the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event or T-OAE from an open ocean sedimentary succession from western North America. Paired osmium isotope data and numerical modelling results suggest that weathering rates may have increased by 215% and potentially up to 530% compared to the pre-event baseline, which would have resulted in the sequestration of significant amounts of atmospheric CO2. This process would have also led to increased delivery of nutrients to the oceans and lakes stimulating bioproductivity and leading to the subsequent development of shallow-water anoxia, the hallmark of the T-OAE. This enhanced bioproductivity and anoxia would have resulted in elevated rates of organic matter burial that would have acted as an additional negative feedback on atmospheric pCO2 levels. Therefore, the enhanced weathering modulated by initially increased pCO2 levels would have operated as both a direct and indirect negative feedback to end the T-OAE.

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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:26 May 2017
Date deposited:07 June 2017
Date of first online publication:10 July 2017
Date first made open access:No date available

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