Sedimentary, climatic, and biotic impact of an ancient greenhouse warming episode on the Chinese mainland

Royal Academy of Sciences – Joint Research Project – China Exchange Programme

Project Leaders: dr Hemmo A. Abels (TU Delft) and Prof Hanlie Hong (China University of Geosciences)

The study of ancient episodes of extreme greenhouse warming has revealed the severe impact of global warming on Earth’s System. Continental rock records of such episodes are scarce, especially so on the Asian mainland. In this project, we study the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, the largest known greenhouse warming event in the distant past, in the Hunan province, China.

FIELDWORK January 2018

A field campaign was performed in January 2018 to the Hengyang Basin to sample and describe the Paleocene-Eocene sedimentary interval. Despite the cold weather, the campaign was very successful as multiple freshly excavated outcrops were dug by construction works. Several gaps remain in the record, but a sufficient complete view of the strong impact of the greenhouse warming event on the local sedimentary environments has been gained. Dating of the record using stable carbon isotopes on pedogenic carbonate has to reveal now the detailed position of the event within the logged stratigraphy. This will be part of the MSc-thesis by Matthias Mäder at TU Delft. A detailed clay mineralogical record is being contructed at CUG Wuhan under supervision of dr Chaowen Wang.

Crew in the Hengyang Basin field campaign from left to rigth: Chaowen Wang (CUG Wuhan), Youwei Wang (TU Delft), Hemmo Abels (TU Delft), Matthias Mäder (TU Delft), Joep Storms (TU Delft), Kaipeng Zhi (CUG Wuhan)