Bolide summer

The Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum as a response to an extraterrestrial trigger

Benjamin S. Cramer, Dennis Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The standard paradigm that the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) represents a threshold event intrinsic to Earth's climate and connected in some way with long-term warming has influenced interpretations of the geochemical, climate, and biological perturbations that occurred at this event. As recent high-resolution data have demonstrated that the onset of the event was geologically instantaneous, attempts to account for the event solely through endogenous mechanisms have become increasingly strained. The rapid onset of the event indicates that it was triggered by a catastrophic event which we suggest was most likely a bolide impact. We discuss features of the PETM that require explanation and argue that mechanisms that have previously been proposed either cannot explain all of these features or would require some sort of high-energy trigger. A bolide impact could provide such a trigger and, in the event of a comet impact, could contribute directly to the shape of the carbon isotope curve. We introduce a carbon cycle model that would explain the PETM by global warming following a bolide impact, leading to the oxidation of terrestrial organic carbon stores built up during the late Paleocene. Our intention is to encourage other researchers to seriously consider an impact trigger for the PETM, especially in the absence of plausible alternative mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-166
Number of pages23
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Volume224
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2005

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bolide
Hypsithermal
Paleocene
Eocene
heat
summer
climate
catastrophic event
carbon sinks
global warming
isotopes
carbon cycle
researchers
comet
carbon isotope
oxidation
warming
organic carbon
perturbation
carbon

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

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abstract = "The standard paradigm that the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) represents a threshold event intrinsic to Earth's climate and connected in some way with long-term warming has influenced interpretations of the geochemical, climate, and biological perturbations that occurred at this event. As recent high-resolution data have demonstrated that the onset of the event was geologically instantaneous, attempts to account for the event solely through endogenous mechanisms have become increasingly strained. The rapid onset of the event indicates that it was triggered by a catastrophic event which we suggest was most likely a bolide impact. We discuss features of the PETM that require explanation and argue that mechanisms that have previously been proposed either cannot explain all of these features or would require some sort of high-energy trigger. A bolide impact could provide such a trigger and, in the event of a comet impact, could contribute directly to the shape of the carbon isotope curve. We introduce a carbon cycle model that would explain the PETM by global warming following a bolide impact, leading to the oxidation of terrestrial organic carbon stores built up during the late Paleocene. Our intention is to encourage other researchers to seriously consider an impact trigger for the PETM, especially in the absence of plausible alternative mechanisms.",
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Bolide summer : The Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum as a response to an extraterrestrial trigger. / Cramer, Benjamin S.; Kent, Dennis.

In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 224, No. 1-3, 15.08.2005, p. 144-166.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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