Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Geologists Pinpoint Source Of Major Global Warming Event More Than 55 Million Years Ago

Date:
November 22, 1999
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
For the first time, a team of scientists has identified the possible methane release site and critical sequence of events that precipitated Earth’s bout with global warming, and the extinction of many deep-sea species and appearance of new mammalian orders, more than 55 million years ago.

For the first time, a team of scientists has identified the possible methane release site and critical sequence of events that precipitated Earth’s bout with global warming, and the extinction of many deep-sea species and appearance of new mammalian orders, more than 55 million years ago.

Related Articles


The research project is part of the international Ocean Drilling Program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a consortium of international partners.

In an article to be published this week in the journal Science, geologists Miriam Katz and Kenneth Miller of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, provide support for a link between the mass extinction millions of years ago and the massive release of methane and carbon dioxide into the earth’s oceans and atmosphere, which is not unlike the present input of fossil fuels into the environment. "We haven't studied these major carbon influxes before because we didn't know about them," says NSF's Paul Dauphin, associate program director for ODP.

In what is known as the latest Paleocene thermal maximum (LPTM), Earth’s climate and oceans warmed significantly about 55.5 million years ago. Numerous mammalian orders appeared while many deep-sea species became extinct as water temperatures soared by 4 to 8 degrees Celsius. Since the 1980s, scientists have tried to explain the rapid climate warming apparent in geochemical records from around the world.

"One approach to unraveling the possibilities of future climate change is to study analogs from the Earth’s past," says Katz. "We have examined clues in the geologic record of an ancient massive release of carbon into the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere." The clues came from analyzing certain geochemical and faunal changes in a group of microfossils known as foraminifera - essentially amoebas with shells - in order to reconstruct ancient oceanographic and climatic conditions.

Working as part of an international scientific team onboard the Ocean Drilling Program’s vessel the JOIDES (Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep-Earth Sampling) Resolution, the researchers recovered ocean sediments from the Blake Nose, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Tallahassee, Florida. Katz and her co-authors have pinpointed this region as the first location to be identified as a possible LPTM methane release site, where methane appears to have escaped from a pressure zone created by an underlying ancient reef.

Katz says "the triggering mechanism for methane release is still open to debate," making it impossible for scientists to predict whether a massive release from today’s 14,000 gigaton marine gas hydrate reservoir could occur again.

"We know that 55.5 million years ago, carbon dioxide was added to the atmosphere at a rate comparable to present-day fossil fuel input, providing the potential for using past changes in carbon dioxide levels to shed light on future climate change possibilities," Katz believes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Geologists Pinpoint Source Of Major Global Warming Event More Than 55 Million Years Ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991122081430.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (1999, November 22). Geologists Pinpoint Source Of Major Global Warming Event More Than 55 Million Years Ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991122081430.htm
National Science Foundation. "Geologists Pinpoint Source Of Major Global Warming Event More Than 55 Million Years Ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991122081430.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Looted and Leaking, South Sudan's Oil Wells Pose Health Risk

Looted and Leaking, South Sudan's Oil Wells Pose Health Risk

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) Thick black puddles and a looted, leaking ruin are all that remain of the Thar Jath oil treatment facility, once a crucial part of South Sudan&apos;s mainstay industry. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Rescued Butterflies Get New Home at San Diego Zoo

Rare Rescued Butterflies Get New Home at San Diego Zoo

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) Workers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park help to save rare butterfly pupae. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Volcano Villarrica Erupts in Southern Chile, Villages Evacuated

Volcano Villarrica Erupts in Southern Chile, Villages Evacuated

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) Chile&apos;s Villarrica volcano gives a spectacular display of lava as it erupts in the early morning hours, prompting several thousand to evacuate. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Fire Burns Iconic SAfrica Mountain

Raw: Fire Burns Iconic SAfrica Mountain

AP (Mar. 3, 2015) Cape Town&apos;s iconic Table Mountain was engulfed by an orange blaze on Monday and Tuesday, blowing thick smoke to the city below, as a wildfire burned across the city&apos;s southern peninsula. (March 3) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins