Zinc isotope evidence for paleoenvironmental changes during Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event 2

Xi Chen*, Bradley B. Sageman, Hanwei Yao, Sheng Ao Liu, Kaibo Han, Yi Zou, Chengshan Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Paleoclimate during the Cenomanian-Turonian Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE 2, 94.5-93.9 Ma) was characterized by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations and peak global temperatures. In this study, we employ δ66Zn measured on samples spanning OAE 2 in an expanded hemipelagic section in Tibet to trace changes in the major fluxes that influence biogeochemical cycles. The prominent feature of the δ66Zn record in the studied section is a continuous decrease from ~1% at the onset of OAE 2 to a minimum of ~0.2% within the Plenus Cold Event (ca. 94.3 Ma), followed by a stepwise recovery through the upper part of OAE 2. The negative shift in δ66Zn corresponds with higher terrigenous inputs, as revealed by previously published detrital index and TOC/TN (total organic carbon to total nitrogen) ratio records, and covaries with a notable decreasing trend recorded in compiled pCO2 data of different basins. We propose that influx of isotopically light Zn from weathered volcanic rocks associated with submarine large igneous provinces and/or (sub)tropic Indian continental volcanics is likely responsible for the δ66Zn decrease. We infer that the recovery of δ66Zn was caused by continued high primary production and an inevitable decline in the flux of light Zn as volcanic terrains were progressively weathered. The ultimate cessation of OAE 2 may have been a consequence of the same effect, with the nutrient supply from weathering reaching a minimum threshold to maintain productivity-anoxia feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-416
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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