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Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems






AGU and the Geochemical Society


Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (ETM2; ∼53.7 Ma) occurred approximately 2 Myr after the Paleocene‐ Eocene Thermal Maximum (∼55.5 Ma) and was characterized by a deep‐sea warming of >3°C, associated with massive release of carbon into the ocean‐atmosphere system. We performed single‐specimen stable isotope analyses of the planktic foraminiferal genera Acarinina (surface dweller) and Subbotina (thermocline dweller) from Ocean Drilling Program Sites 1265, 1267, and 1263 (Walvis Ridge, SE Atlantic Ocean) and compared high‐resolution planktic and benthic stable isotope records to constrain the surface warming and the bathymetric pathway of the carbon isotope excursion during ETM2. Tests of the thermocline dweller Subbotina are absent from sediment deposited during the peak of ETM2. The Acarinina carbon and oxygen isotope records of Sites 1263, 1265, and 1267 are strikingly similar, despite some test recrystallization and large differences in burial depths. Sea surface temperature (SST) estimates based on d18O isotope values of Acarinina indicate a SST increase of ∼2°C, significantly less than the >3°C estimated for bottom water warming. The maximum negative carbon isotope excursion for Acarinina was ∼1.7‰, slightly more than in the deep sea (∼1.4‰). The planktic and benthic isotope records do not show time lags, indicating that during ETM2 the isotopically depleted carbon injected into the ocean‐atmosphere system was rapidly mixed within all oceanic carbon reservoirs.